Assessing how the NY Jets could use a Dalvin Cook and Breece Hall backfield

What would a Breece Hall/Dalvin Cook backfield look like?

NY Jets, Dalvin Cook
NY Jets, Dalvin Cook / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

It looks increasingly likely that the NY Jets will sign Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook before the weekend ends. The former Minnesota Vikings running back has played against new Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers plenty of times in their NFC North battles, and now they want to team up.

This would be a great move for the Jets to add another dynamic playmaker to their offense in late July. The only question is how the offense works with both Cook and Breece Hall.

New offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett does have some experience utilizing two running backs during his time in Green Bay. Rodgers himself said the Jets offense this year will be "one he’s had success in," with some "West Coast flavor," but ultimately, it’s "Hackett’s offense."

So let’s examine how two running backs were used during Hackett’s time with Rodgers in Green Bay.

2019 and 2020

In 2019 and 2020, there was a clear RB1 and RB2 distinction between Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. Jones saw about double the number of carries as Williams did.

Over those two seasons, Jones saw the 10th and 15th most carries amongst running backs in the NFL, respectively, while Williams received the 43rd and 36th most.

Jones was also a top receiving target. In both 2019 and 2020, Jones saw the second-most receiving targets for the Packers, trailing only Davante Adams. Jones was even in the top 10 in the NFL for receiving targets as a running back in both seasons.

Williams was also targeted a fair amount for a backup running back — he was the seventh and sixth target for the Packers in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

This seemed to be how many thought the Jets would approach the running back room in 2023. Breece Hall, assuming he is healthy, would receive the bulk of the carries and get a good amount of receiving targets.

Either Michael Carter, Zonovan Knight, or maybe even Israel Abanikanda would win the second running back spot and still have a productive season.

With Cook possibly in the fold, you would think the workload would be more evenly divided between the two.

2021 

In 2021, Williams would leave the Packers, and second-year player A.J. Dillon would take on a much larger role. Dillon actually wound up with 16 more rushing attempts, although Jones still had four more yards (803 to 799), and that was with Jones missing two games. Dillon ranked 20th in attempts in the NFL, while Jones was just four spots behind at 24.

Jones was still heavily utilized in the passing game, again finishing second on the Packers in targets. Dillon was targeted 37 times, comparable to Williams' numbers the two years prior.

The workload was much more evenly split, and it seems like this was the plan for Hackett to take with him to Denver last season. However, after a season-ending injury to Javonte Williams and eventually Melvin Gordon, that was not in the cards.

2023?

Each running back pair wound up with extremely similar results: 1,602 yards combined in 2021, 1,609 in 2020, and 1,544 in 2019. Also, in receiving yards combined with 704 in 2021, 591 in 2020, and 727 in 2019.

However, it was in 2021 that the Packers saw the highest Pro Football Focus run grade with a 91.1 grade — good for third in the NFL. In 2020, they were also third in the NFL, but with a slightly worse 87.7 grade, and in 2019, they ranked eighth with a 79.2.

With Hall coming off of a torn ACL, the Jets likely want an easier workload for him and some added insurance in case he is not ready to go come Week 1.

Hall and Cook would combine for one of, if not the best, running back duos in the NFL. Both excel as rushers and receivers, and although Hall is probably the better of the two at this point, there is room in this offense for both players.

manual