Randall Cobb – is it time to worry about the Green Bay Packers receiver?
The latest Green Bay Packers victory over the Detroit Lions has quelled many of our concerns about a Green Bay Packers’ offense that appeared out of rhythm during the first two weeks of the regular season.
When it comes to Randall Cobb and his on-field production is the fact that he hasn’t gained more than 60 yards receiving since Week 13 of last season.
Though last year’s across-the-board statistical slide can be attributed to both a preseason shoulder injury he never quite recovered from and the season-long absence of partner-in-crime Jordy Nelson due to injury, the same can’t be said in 2016.
So what’s the cause of Cobb’s pedestrian output to date?
First off, Cobb’s current regular-season sample size of production is too small to be indicative of an overall diminishing role in the offensive scheme.
His outing versus the Jaguars in Week 1, in fact, was a solid one in which No. 18 led his team in targets, catches and receiving yards, as well as carrying the ball three times for 11 yards in the running back position.
Cobb’s ineffectiveness versus the Vikings the following week was very much the result of the entire offense being in a state of disarray against arguably the top defense in football.
But if that’s the case, where was he then in the home-opener versus the Lions? Why was he targeted only three times in a game in which Rodgers and his surrounding cast were firing on all cylinders for much of the contest?
The 34-27 victory over Detroit was all about erasing all the doubts surrounding the Packers’ attack by swiftly hitting the opponent in the mouth by scoring on each of their first five possessions.
Nelson was getting open on deep and intermediate routes and when given the choice to throw it downfield or toss it to his underneath guy, Rodgers will always opt for the former.
Mike McCarthy’s squad went into the second half with a 31-10 lead and elected to bleed the clock with Lacy to keep Detroit’s resurgent passing game off the field for much of the third and fourth quarters.
The fact remains that Cobb is the No. 2 receiver and no one has come close to supplanting him, including Davante Adams, who despite showing the ability to the make the spectacular play, too often can’t master the routine ones.
Also playing in Cobb’s favor is the injury to Jared Cook who’s been diagnosed with a high ankle sprain that could take anywhere between four to six weeks to heal.
At some point, moreover, teams are going to start focusing their coverages on Nelson, which will leave the former Kentucky Wildcat with more opportunities to get the ball in his hands on shorter routes that will require him to use his run-after-catch skills to maximize those plays.
Therefore, the real question remains: Will Cobb return to being the same weapon he was two years ago when Pro Football Focus (PFF) proclaimed him the a “top five or top 10” receiver in 2014 when he led all pass catchers with 10 scores out of the slot position?
Rodgers posted an NFL-best 136 passer rating when targeting Cobb two seasons ago, according to PFF, which went down to 112 when distributing the ball to others.
Cobb has developed into a security blanket of sorts for Green Bay’s franchise quarterback and has made him a better player in the past given the receiver’s ability of not allowing defenders to get between him and the ball.
With the exception of 2015, the converted college quarterback has produced catch rates of 66-percent or better.
There’s no reason to believe that 5-foot-10 run-after-catch specialist has suddenly lost a step at the tender age of 26. Any injuries he incurred in the recent past were in his upper body and not in an area where his speed and short-area quickness might have been compromised.
It shouldn’t be long before we start seeing Cobb showcasing his trademark sharp cuts he makes when running in a straight line that have thrown a number of defensive backs off balance in an attempt to shadow the elusive athlete.
Now that Nelson seems to be all the way back, Rodgers will make it a point of not leaving his other premier pass-catching target in the dark. The signal-caller knows that though Cobb is the ultimate team player, he also has a competitive side that wants to be fed the ball.
That wish should be fulfilled soon enough.
Dinner is about to be served.