Vikings Will Think outside the Box with Aaron Jones

Aaron Jones, Jonathan Greenard, Jordan Addison and Cam Bynum spoke with reporters after mandatory minicamp on Wednesday, June 5th, 2024, at TCO Performance Center. The Vikings signed Jones during the 2024 free agency period, a replacement for Alexander Mattison, who joined the Las Vegas Raiders roster.

Over the last two years, the Minnesota Vikings have quietly slowed down their practice of throwing the football to running backs.

Vikings Will Think outside the Box with Aaron Jones

Indeed, since Kevin O’Connell took over in 2022, the operation has primarily focused on targeting wide receivers and tight ends, with a lesser emphasis on halfbacks as pass-catchers out of the backfield.

vikings roster
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that may all change with Aaron Jones in the house; at least that’s the strategy in June, with the regular season about 11 weeks away.’s Craig Peters mentioned the inevitability this week when sizing up Minnesota’s recent tendencies. “Jones has 272 career receptions and 18 touchdowns through the air to go along with his career rushing average of 5.0 per carry (5,940 yards on 1,177 rushes),” Peters wrote. “He will be a threat as a receiving target, especially when defenses will direct so much of their attention toward other Vikings skill players. He also has demonstrated skills in blitz pickup.”

Jones served as a true-blue pass-catching threat in Green Bay for seven seasons, working with Aaron Rodgers most of the time and Jordan Love last year. Now, with a conglomerate of Sam Darnold and J.J. McCarthy at quarterback, Jones will continue his dual-threat style.

Different Story
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Again via, offensive coordinator Wes Phillips opined on Jones’ talents, “And then obviously, the playmaking ability on the field. He can pass protect, he can run routes out of the backfield, and he can obviously run the football, so a really big pickup for us.”

Consider this stat for the Vikings offense in the last five years.

Total Number of Receptions,
by Vikings’ RBs,
Last 5 Seasons:

2023 = 69
2022 = 66
2021 = 94
2020 = 75
2019 = 98

aaron jones
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) runs the ball at training camp practice on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022, at Ray Nitschke Field in Ashwaubenon, Wis. Samantha Madar/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin. © Samantha Madar/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK.

At the peak of Dalvin Cook’s powers — so 2019 through 2021 — Minnesota thrived on his pass-catching abilities. But those dwindled when O’Connell took over in 2022, and Cook left the club about one year ago. Minnesota will hope to rekindle prime Cook, to a degree, with Jones in 2024.

Packers players were surprised to lose Jones in March, too. “Yeah, it was very tough. Aaron Jones is such a special player. Special guy in this locker room since I’ve been here. Everyone loved Aaron, and it was very tough. It was one of those things that you can’t control,” Love told reporters at organized team activities (OTAs) in May.

Vikings 2023 Super Bowl Odds
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota has finished 27th per rushing DVOA in back-to-back seasons since O’Connell took over as head coach two years ago. The franchise desperately needs to fix its ground game or risk never fully unlocking the offense. It will hope Jones is the cure-all.

Jones will turn 30 in December.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by