Five things worth watching in the Green Bay Packers’ final four games.
The Green Bay Packers are essentially out of playoff contention at 4-7-1, and head coach Mike McCarthy has already been fired. Interim coach Joe Philbin, despite Mark Murphy’s insistence, probably isn’t a realistic candidate for the full-time head coaching job either.
But there’s still plenty of things worth watching as the Packers play out their 2018 string. The players know that they are under Brian Gutekunst’s microscope, and these last four games could play a big role in determining the general manager’s strategy for 2019 and beyond.
Here are five things in particular to pay attention to:
1. The slot receiver position
Outside of Davante Adams, the Packers’ receiver situation is a jumbled mess of talent, injuries, experience, potential, and disappointment.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling has solidified himself as a starter on the perimeter, setting up a battle with the less explosive but more refined Geronimo Allison for next training camp. The slot position holds a bit more intrigue this year.
After dealing with a hamstring injury for much of the middle part of the season, Randall Cobb is healthy. He hasn’t produced much this year since his sensational Week 1 performance.
But Cobb still has more time with Rodgers than any other pass-catcher, and he looked a bit rejuvenated in Week 13, even if that didn’t show in the stat line. He’s nowhere close to being worth his $8.6 million base salary, but that contract expires after the season.
He’s still just 28, meaning that a strong performance in the season’s final quarter could convince Gutekunst to bring Cobb back next season on a cheaper deal.
The preliminary challenger is Equanimeous St. Brown. While Cobb’s best work comes in small spaces, St. Brown gains separation more on downfield routes and crossing patterns where he can outrun defenders. The biggest difference is their catch radius, as St. Brown’s six-foot-five height and long arms make him a much more viable downfield threat.
And, of course, preseason darling Jake Kumerow can’t be discounted. Kumerow is less than two years younger than Cobb, but Rodgers has oodles more confidence in him than any of the rookies.
The play of St. Brown, Kumerow and Cobb in these next four games will go a long way in determining who has the inside track on the starting slot receiver job when training camp kicks off in 2019.