Cory's Corner: Randall Cobb continues to do it all

The Packers offense has been an easy target this season.

They’ve only converted 36 percent of their third downs and on third-and-1 they’re only moving the chains 48 percent of the time. Also this team cannot move the ball down the field as quarterback Aaron Rodgers is tied for 28th in the league with Joe Flacco by passing for a pedestrian 6.76 yards per attempt.

Ever since Jordy Nelson was lost for the season, everyone has examined how much added pressure would be placed on Rodgers’ shoulders.

However, the person that has been forgotten is wide receiver Randall Cobb.

Let’s not forget that Cobb is the perfect complement to Nelson. Nelson is the guy that stretches the defense and in the past has forced defenses to choose and at times, which wideout to double team. Cobb is the perfect underneath guy that can catch the ball in space, make a few moves and quickly turn a 10-yard pass into a 60-yard touchdown. And that's why Ted Thompson and the Packers rewarded Cobb with a four-year, $40 million contract last March. 

Take away Nelson and now Cobb has been forced to carry the torch for a wide receiving crew that has been hard to watch at times.

But Cobb isn’t just a receiver. He’s arguably the best athlete on the Packers. In addition to wide receiver, he also played some quarterback in the “WildCobb” formation and also was a punt and kick returner at the University of Kentucky.

And the Packers are trying to find any way possible to inject Cobb’s speed and athleticism into the gameplan. Late in the third quarter at Oakland, Cobb either got a handoff or was a targeted receiver on three of four plays. And on the third play of the fourth quarter, it was Cobb that ran four yards on third-and-1.

“It’s just something that (defenses) have to plan for,” Cobb said, whose 11 carries this season have tied a career high. “Something that they have to practice and worry about. We try to change up packages and do different things to try and create matchup issues and find different ways to exploit the defense.”

But Cobb has been the consummate pro this year even though his receiving numbers have dipped. Through the 14 games last year, Cobb was targeted 108 times and this year it’s 118. He’s getting over a game’s worth of targets from a year ago. Teams have made life miserable for him by rolling a safety over or bracketing a linebacker with a cornerback most of the time. 

Everyone thinks that Rodgers is the X-factor to the offense. And while there is some truth to that, the most important person on the offensive side of the ball is Cobb. He can do so many different things and has been asked to lead a group of receivers that all have the same thing in common — none of them will get past the secondary very often.

And that makes Cobb all the more valuable. When most of the offensive plays are in the 10-15 yard range, he is the one that’s needed to make a move and peel off a huge gain.

Yet, Cobb gets criticized for not being a No. 1 receiver. He wasn’t brought to Green Bay to be a No. 1 wideout. He’s arguably one of the best slot receivers in the game and it’s why he posted career highs in receptions (91), yards (1,287) and touchdowns (12) en route to his first Pro Bowl appearance last year by being paired perfectly with Nelson.

Cobb may be the one of most criticized players on offense, but he’s also one of the most important. 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (33)

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ray nichkee's picture

December 26, 2015 at 07:07 am

Good article cory. Keep it up. Thanks for using the term "strech the defense"
Ive watched a million games+/- a bunch and i have never seen the field streched. It always stays the same size. I hear people say cobb isnt a number one and slam him. He isnt a number one but he is a swiss army knife on the field so to speak. Go pack.

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marpag1's picture

December 26, 2015 at 10:16 am

METONYMY /met-AH-nuh-mee/ n. A common figure of speech in which one word is substituted for another word with which it is closely associated, EXAMPLES: the use of "suits" in the place of "businessmen," or "press" in the place of "journalists" or "crown" in the place of "king."

This figure of speech is brought to you by the letters G and B, and the number 1.

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ray nichkee's picture

December 26, 2015 at 11:20 am

Please, if you are replying to my opinion on the use of stretch the field i get it. I dont like it. Now can we go on as happy packer fans? I love the sesame st reference. I use it all the time with a grover voice. To mix it up i use yoda phrasing. Frank oz is greatness.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

December 26, 2015 at 01:22 pm

I think the effects of stretching the field would really show if players would actually catch the passes and/or Rodgers threw better balls.

Ty's 1st quarter and first play of the 49ers game should have been a bomb.

Davante's drop against the Raiders should have been a bomb.

Randall Cobb dropped a potential bomb, or you can say Rodgers threw a horrible ball against the Broncos. Either way, plays like that need to be completed.

Rodgers overthrew Cobb against the Panthers (against Norman)

Those are just a few that I remember off the top.

Bottom line, the WRs do get behind their defender, but after that it's either a drop or a bad pass. Once Rodgers and the WRs start connecting then this Offense will look like the Packers we're familiar with.

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CoryJennerjohn's picture

December 26, 2015 at 08:30 pm

Thanks Ray. I appreciate it.

The main wide receiver question for next year is how healthy Jordy Nelson will be? Can he get back to his All-Pro form?

Have a memorable and enjoyable New Year.

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Dan Stodola's picture

December 26, 2015 at 11:01 pm

I would say the main WR question isn't if Jordy can be healthy. I have no doubts about him whatsoever. The main WR question is, is Davante Adams a complete bust or can he rebound and gain back the confidence he totally lost this year. Thats much more debatable than Jordy's ACL. ACL is pretty cut and tried rehab at this point. But a headcase like Adams has? That's a big, BIG question!

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NickPerry's picture

December 26, 2015 at 08:07 am

I've never viewed Cobb as a number one WR, as Cory said quite well he's the absolute perfect "Robin" to Jordy Nelsons "Batman", both are much better with the other. Cobb is the perfect complement to a #1 WR like Jordy Nelson or anybody like him.

The Packers banked on Adams taking the vaunted 2 year leap McCarthy always talks about, when he didn't the Packers didn't have anybody with any experience or anybody for that matter to step in. I understand most teams don't have a guy sitting around to replace a Jordy Nelson, but more could have been done to bring someone in before the trade deadline for example. Maybe Montgomery could have been that guy but thats a lot to ask of a rookie in this offense, even from a smart Stanford guy. James Jones was a godsend for the Packers and frankly, I don't understand some of the criticism HE'S received. Could you imagine where this offense would be WITHOUT James Jones?

In 2010 the Packers had built the offense around Finley based on what he'd done the second half of 2009. When Finley went down the Packers had Jennings, Jones, DD, and Nelson to fall back on. All players who had one thing this WR group doesn't, EXPERIENCE. I still have hope for this season because anything CAN happen. But if it's going to happen, it needs to start very soon.

GO PACK GO!

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Jimmy Ryan's picture

December 26, 2015 at 08:04 am

Well said Nick Perry.

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Jimmy Ryan's picture

December 26, 2015 at 08:05 am

Quarless comes back this week doesn't he? That should help.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 26, 2015 at 09:54 am

Randall Cobb is the 11th highest paid WR in the NFL. GB paid him #1 WR money. He is certainly a nice player and I give credit to him for playing with an injury. I supported his signing, since I did not like what I saw behind him, and liked his red zone ability, an area of difficulty for GB. I'd suggest that he has proven what I thought: that he is a slot-only WR who can not get vertical. The truth is GB could have handled a season ending injury to Cobb much better than one to Nelson.

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ray nichkee's picture

December 26, 2015 at 10:10 am

Tgr, with my respect, you need to be corrected. Cobb is not a slot WR only. Read the article again. He is 10x better than kordell stewart-the original slash. Jordy is still missed greatly though.

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NickPerry's picture

December 26, 2015 at 11:56 am

Hey Reynaldo, i agree with what you said and I understand $11 million is a hell of a lot of money, especially when Cobb is pretty much a Slot Receiver. Thompson was in a tough spot because teams like the Jags and Raiders had something like $69 million in Cap Space waiting to pounce. I think Ted was afraid of what might happen if he didn't get Cobb signed in those first 3 days and where the dollars might have went from there. The numbers Nelson and Cobb put up last season put TT in a spot where he really HAD to sign him. Just think if Cobb had signed elsewhere AND Jordy was hurt, Christ there would have been a lynching, especially with the way Adams has played. I'm aware you couldn't predict Nelson's injury, just saying it would have been ugly.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

December 26, 2015 at 12:34 pm

"$11 million is a hell of a lot of money"

I'll be interested to evaluate that in the middle of the deal. I bet by then it won't seam so expensive compared to the other top ten slot receivers in 2017. There is talk of the cap hitting 160 million next year. Who knows where how high it will go as the NFL expands it's international revenue stream.

Some mediocre players are going to cash in.

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NickPerry's picture

December 27, 2015 at 05:17 am

That's partly what I"m talking about. When a teams FA is about to hit the market the team he's been with has those first 3 days to see what type of offers the player might receive. Look at the contracts House and Williams received? Look at the contracts MANY average players received. Most of Cobbs money was paid in the first 2 years, here's the link.

http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/green-bay-packers/randall-cobb/

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Dan Stodola's picture

December 26, 2015 at 12:33 pm

Not quite season ending but when Cobb missed 10 wks w/ the broken bone in his leg the offense didn't suffer much if at all. Nelson even played some in the slot and made some really BIG plays from the slot.

Everyone screamed at me when I said Cobb was a terrific slot and#2, but not a #1. Where are all those people now?

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marpag1's picture

December 26, 2015 at 03:32 pm

To be fair, DS, I don't think it's nearly that simple. Cobb's 2013 injury largely coincided with ARod's injury and the Packer offense most assuredly DID suffer during that time, dropping in points per game from 30.3 to 21.5. Obviously a lot of that had to do with the QB situation, but I'd say that's introducing a pretty gigantic variable into what is supposed to be an apples-to-apples comparison.

In 2013, in games when Randall Cobb was playing, Nelson averaged 107.5 yards per game. In the games when Cobb wasn't playing, he averaged 66.9

If it had been Cobb who went down this year, and Nelson was left to do it with no other credible receiving threats and with ARod misfiring as much as he has this year, do you really think that Nelson's numbers wouldn't take a major hit? Defenses would have a deep safety over him on literally every single play. And even if he did get open, ARod ALMOST NEVER missed a receiver open deep last year. This year he's missing with frustrating regularity.

In my opinion, people make far too much of this "only a slot receiver" business. Cobb had 90 catches for 1300 and 12 TDs in 2014. If that's "only a slot receiver," I'd like to have a few more of them. It's true that outside deep threats open up the field for guys to work the middle and the underneath, but it is equally true that the slot guys (just like a good running game) open up the field for speedsters to get deep.

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Dan Stodola's picture

December 26, 2015 at 07:18 pm

I said a terrific slot and #2. Didn't say "just a slot WR", that was someone else. It did coincide w/ Rodgers and Jordy still made alot of plays from the slot. Says more about Jordy, than Cobb (negatively or positively).

Either way, Cobb plays 90+% of his snaps and a higher % of his production from the slot. So you tell me what that makes him if not a slot WR. Might be the best in the NFL there, but still in the slot.

Rodgers wouldn't be misfiring (which I don't acknowledge) because he would still have a credible deep threat to stretch the field. Rodgers issues are directly tied to the lack of receivers that can get open AND catch the ball, let alone run routes correctly and on time.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 27, 2015 at 01:06 am

I wrote that Cobb is "just a slot WR" w/o a vertical threat and stand by it. It is fine if others disagree: that is one reason to have this site. I am not down on Cobb other than for some drops, nor do I think we overpaid. His contract was for the market at the time, possibly a bit less than market.

IF Cobb can play as a #1 outside WR and provide a deep threat, then I wonder if GB will ever line him up out there. The book on Abby and Montgomery was that they would be slot WRs in the NFL, but Montgomery got injured, and I don't know where Abby has practiced the most this year. I prefer Abby outside myself, and don't think JJ, Janis or Adams are best suited to play the slot.

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Dan Stodola's picture

December 27, 2015 at 12:39 pm

I'm not disagreeing w/ you TGR. Cobb is a slot WR, which I clearly stated. As for his contract, I have no issues w/ that either.

If Cobb could provide a deep threat you can bet he would have been put into position to provide it. The fact he hasn't just accentuates that he isn't a deep threat.

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marpag1's picture

December 27, 2015 at 03:04 pm

To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever argued about where Randall Cobb lines up. Why on earth would they?? Everyone with eyes ought to know that he takes most of his snaps from the slot. And with a career per catch average of 13 yards, I don't think anyone has spoken of him as a great deep threat, either. Is someone arguing about these things?

The point that I've been arguing about is the relative value of a slot guy, which Cobb so obviously is, in comparison to an outside guy who whose game is much more predicated on getting deep. The common perception seems to be that outside guys are one-man wrecking crews, while slot guys are by definition a bunch of JAGs who merely pick up the scraps that fall from the table. Or to be more specific, people seem to think that Cobb is having a down year because "he's just a slot guy, after all," and couldn't possibly be expected to perform now that his great benefactor, Jordy Nelson, is down for the year. But those same people seem to think that if Cobb had gone down, then Nelson would continue to put up mind-boggling numbers all on his own... because after all he's a superhero who "can get deep,"

I dispute that notion. I think Nelson would probably look just about as sucky without Cobb as Cobb looks without Nelson.

If you only have ONE GUY who is worth anything, every defense in the league will shut him down and take him out of the game, regardless of where he lines up on the field - inside, outside or wherever. If it were only Nelson, every team would double him incessantly (or maybe triple) and he WOULD NOT be getting deep, and his numbers would take a major hit.

It doesn't always have to be "an outside guy" or a "deep threat" (or worse, the horribly ill-defined cliche "a true #1" - whatever that means) who makes an offense go. The Patriots haven't had a deep threat since Randy Moss. They have always had a collection of shifty little slot guys... and, of course, Rob Freakin' Gronkowski. We all know that it's Gronkowski who stirs the drink over there. Last I heard Gronk was a tight end who doesn't spend a lot of time on the perimeter, and who only averages 14 yards per catch.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

December 26, 2015 at 11:01 am

Cobb is a really nice player but he needs to improve his route running. It is just not as crisp or precise as it could be, and it makes a big difference in his ability to seperate from good CB's in space.

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4thand1's picture

December 26, 2015 at 04:28 pm

Cobb has had his share of drops too. But I give him the benefit of the doubt with a bad shoulder. Cobb is the one guy you can count healthy or not.

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Dan Stodola's picture

December 26, 2015 at 07:22 pm

That shoulder is a non issue. Doesn't take 3 months to heal. 4-6 weeks would be the norm.

I think Cobb runs very good routes, but he's getting all the attention Jordy drew and has less room to work, that's the reason for his lack of production.

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4thand1's picture

December 27, 2015 at 07:34 am

Lang's shoulder seems to come up every week on the injury report. I think the Packers don't list Cobb's so he won't be targeted.

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Dan Stodola's picture

December 27, 2015 at 12:46 pm

Lang's shoulder takes a jolt and is irritated every time he tries to block someone, practice included. Cobb didn't have that kind of issue at WR on a daily basis.

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Tundraboy's picture

December 26, 2015 at 12:18 pm

Cobb will be an old man before MM uses Cobb as a QB in certain plays or anything exotic. Would be nice to see tho.

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Dan Stodola's picture

December 26, 2015 at 12:35 pm

Why the heck would McCarthy ever take the ball out of Rodgers hands for Cobb? Makes no sense whatsoever! None...

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Tundraboy's picture

December 26, 2015 at 01:41 pm

No different than him handing off. What's the big deal for a play or two.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

December 26, 2015 at 02:57 pm

They handed off to Cobb last week.

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Dan Stodola's picture

December 26, 2015 at 07:25 pm

Rodgers is still a threat before the handoff. With Cobb at QB would anyone be afraid of his passing? Hell no. Question answered?!

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DrealynWilliams's picture

December 26, 2015 at 01:24 pm

"Cobb may be the one of most criticized players on offense, but he’s also one of the most important"

'Nuff said...

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4thand1's picture

December 27, 2015 at 07:35 am

I think your balls dropped off.

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CallingIt's picture

December 27, 2015 at 04:47 am

Nobody is having a stellar year on offense this year. Cobb's work isn't as good as in past years. His numbers are down from last year but not terrible. Without him, the offense would probably be a train wreck. I guess it shows just how important Jordy is to the Packers.

Just being healthy again next year makes the offense much better. I see another TE and WR on the slate for TT in the draft along with some more heavies up front to develop but that's another topic for another day.

For now, I see the Pack pulling out all the stops and getting RC the ball as often as possible. Its nitty gritty time. Today we see what the guys have in them. Today they go in as the dog, hope its the junk yard dog that shows up, not the pocket pooch. Go Pack!

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