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Separation won't be a Problem in Dallas for Randall Cobb, Packers

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Separation won't be a Problem in Dallas for Randall Cobb, Packers

Since coming into the league in 2011 as primarily a kick return specialist for the Packers, Randall Cobb has been renowned as one of the league's best slot receivers. This was well before he was on the recipient end of a Hail Mary and making headlines for it. It was for the most part hidden under wraps how inefficient he was without a clear No. 1 receiver ahead of him on the depth chart.

When the Packers lost Jordy Nelson for the season in 2015, Cobb struggled. Both through a shoulder injury suffered in the preseason, but with finding ways to get open as well. Defensive coordinators had no problem scheming their players to picking Cobb up on his standard routes and limiting one of Aaron Rodgers' options. It's one of the reasons why the team struggled so much offensively down the stretch. A struggle so prominent, it carried over into the early stages of the 2016 campaign. The trust between Rodgers and his receivers were in a bind, and 2015 seemed as if it shell-shocked him. 

He was antsy in the pocket, had a problem with scanning through his progressions and had an ongoing tendency to extending plays when they didn't have to be. Something he was praised for doing throughout his career ended up being one of his biggest weaknesses in 2016.

He can't revert back to that.

It'll take a formidable performance from Cobb and fellow receiver Davante Adams in Dallas on Sunday to avoid that from happening. The Packers didn't have a healthy, smarter Adams through a majority of the 2015 season due to an ankle injury he battled through, despite the chagrin of fans who preferred Adams find his rightful spot on the team's bench.

With the emergence of Geronimo Allison and Ty Montgomery's physicality, allowing him to play the boundary, Cobb can remain in the slot for a majority of the team's Divisional round match-up with the Cowboys. It should provide an outlet for him to find success against a Cowboys defense that, despite the team's 14-2 overall record, hasn't exactly been much to write home about. 

Cobb, however, could do nothing but commend them based off of their performance in the first meeting between the two teams in week six.

"They're a great secondary," Cobb said after practice on Wednesday. "We played them earlier in the year. I think that gives us a better feeling for the play style that they have and the way that they play their coverages. But we were a different team back then when we played them, so we're looking forward to this opportunity."

Cobb had himself a day against that secondary in the first meeting, tallying seven catches for 53 yards and a touchdown. He caught 63.6 percent of his 11 targets.

Despite his big individual day, the Packers' turnover margin in that game was minus three - a possible, but looming factor as to why the Cowboys became the first team to beat the Packers at Lambeau Field this season.

"It changes the game, you don't know what happens with those turnovers... We always preach the importance of ball security and the turnover margin."

"It definitely could've been a different game."

Cobb has caught 60 of his 84 targets this season, putting together a 71.4 catch percentage. It was the fewest amount of receptions he's recorded since 2013, albeit he missed 10 games due to injury that year. He's been the only Packers receiver not to drop a pass this season with more than 29 targets. In fact, he hasn't dropped a pass since leaving the 2015 NFC Divisional game early against the Arizona Cardinals.

Sans Nelson, it's vital that the Packers somehow create a bigger role for Cobb, who is coming off of a performance in which he tied the NFL postseason record for most touchdown receptions in a game. Much like his colleague Adams has done in the last two seasons, some players naturally leap onto another level when January rolls around.

"We have the numbers where it can be a different guy any week. We all prepare the same way, and it kind of goes with the rhythm and the flow of the game."

A rhythm and flow will be something the Packers look to get into come Sunday. Their playoff lives - and likely several jobs - depend on it.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (34) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

croatpackfan's picture

I agree with many that this Sunday game will be completely different from the game played this season at Lambeau.
Also, it is interesting that it is not uncommon how teams with free week can drop off of their level of playing, like they need some time to find right rythm or "working temperature" while other teams which played WCG, even banged, are more dangerous and hot.
I hope this week of rest will make some problems to young guys, like Dak and Elliot.

Nick Perry's picture

No matter what the Packers can't start as slowly as they did last weekend or even in week 6. The Packers started out against the Giants having 7 yards in the 1st quarter and what, 5 straight punts? They looked a whole lot like the Packers team that started out the season struggling.

I really believed and stressed last week they'd need Cobb to play big and he did. This week I think they'll need Cook, Montgomery, and Michaels to play well and Allison to play like he did the last few weeks of the regular season.

The Cowboys played a lot of 3-2-6 defense against GB in week 6. With RB's as quick or fast as Michaels and Monty they could be to the 2nd or 3rd levels of the defense in a blink running the ball. The Packers also didn't have Cook in week 6. If the Packers can get that running game early (And Should) against a defense with 6 DB's on the field, it's only going to make Rodgers more effective. If Rodgers becomes MORE effective, I see a 40 burger coming.

RCPackerFan's picture

I heard on a local radio station this week, that the Giants game pretty much was a summary of their season. They started very slow but caught fire at the end of the game. That does pretty much summarize their season.

I agree, that they can't afford to start that slowly this week. I want to see them play a full 4 quarters. I would love to see them get out to a decent lead early. That being said, i don't think its necessarily a good thing for them to get out to a monster lead early and then to take their foot off the gas. Something like the first Lions game.

Nick Perry's picture

I hear your concern but the way McCarthy was still passing the ball up 31-13 gives me hope the Packers won't let up. Maybe just maybe he'll keep his foot to the floor. I believe if he does my #1 wish will come true...

Skip Bayless will CRY!

RCPackerFan's picture

Yeah, I'm not really saying as far as the coaches go. But naturally when teams get a big lead they tend to relax a bit. And thats when teams start making their come backs.

Don't worry. Skip will find some other way to rip on the Packers.

Finwiz's picture

By 40 burger, I presume you mean "points" and not the price of a hamburger at Jerry World. There is no chance in hell GB is scoring 40+ on Dallas, simply because their running game will limit their number of possessions and control GB's time of it. I put the over/under on GB's point total at 25. They are going to have to win this one something like 24-16 / 24-20. It's on the defense to slow down Dallas running game, and I don't like the odds.

RCPackerFan's picture

While they may not put up 40+ points. Don't dismiss the ability of the Packers offense to put up points.

In the last 7 games they have averaged almost 32 points per game. In the last 5 games they have averaged 35 points per game. And in 3 of those 5 games they scored 38 points. Also in those 3 games, those teams ranked #2, #3 and #6 in scoring defenses.
Dallas ranks #5.

Bearmeat's picture

Yeah, it's reasonable when you look at Dallas #2 TOP throughout the year. Until you consider that GB is #5 TOP.

Dallas isn't getting 35 mins TOP on Sunday. And their defense is, how shall I say this delicately, WAY WORSE than many of the teams we've just slaughtered in the past 7 weeks.

If we can put up 38 on Seattle and NYG, we can certainly do 35 on Dallas.

Finwiz's picture

Exactly DPF......this is what Dallas did to the Pack in Lambeau. Kept them off balance all day with Elliot and mixed in key passes to Beasley. As soon as those safeties cheat up in run support, the middle of the field will be wide open. It always is anyway. I just don't like our defense compared to past championship years. No Shields, Matthews injured, no Raji, Randall injured.
They will control the clock unless there's turnovers. There were so many dropped passes by both the Lions and Giants, I'd be very worried they won't be dropped by Dallas wideouts in better conditions. Don't like the forecast, but I wish I did.

Finwiz's picture

Not to mention Zenner and Perkins were making me nervous and Rawls had his moments too. Elliott will be gashing the Packers just like he did in Lambeau and that creates big problems for how it controls time of possession and opens up the passing game. I hope I'm wrong because I'd sure like to be.

Bearmeat's picture

I'm not saying that they're not going to be able to run the ball. On the contrary, I think they'll probably get north of 150 yards rushing as a team.

What I DO think will happen is that ARod will pick their defense apart.

Nick Perry's picture

Who would downvote what Bearmeat said here??

Nick Perry's picture

Perkins was making you nervous??? HUH, that guy gained 30 yards in 10 carries. I'll take a 3 YPC average all day long.

Nick Perry's picture

Green Bay actually had the edge in TOP in the first meeting, and that was with Green Bay giving the ball away 4 times. Last week when the Giants scored and made it 14-13 the Packers went 63 yards on 4 plays in a 1:38. The next TD was a long one, 10 plays, 80 yards in 5:14, and the final TD drive they went 55 yards in 9 plays in 5:48, that final TD drive they were actually TRYING to use clock. That's 21 points in 12;40 seconds.

Give the Packer some credit, they can score often and fast. Dallas is going to score points no doubt about it, But so are the Packers, against a defense not as strong as some of the defenses the Packers have played recently. I expect Dallas to win the TOP, just not the game.

Rossonero's picture

History is not on Dallas' side. For rookie QBs going to to the playoffs, they have lost their first playoff game. Examples include Andrew Luck and RG3. Let's continue that trend!

I'm confident that the Packers staff will watch the film of the previous game, as well as film from the Giants beating the Cowboys twice, and make the necessary adjustments. The staff did just that when we had the rematch vs. Arizona last year. Packers 27, Cowboys 26.

RCPackerFan's picture

Also with the Cowboys they haven't really played a meaningful game for almost a month now. The starters haven't played a full game for 3 weeks.

While the Cowboys may have had the better season, there isn't any team that is hotter then Green Bay right now.

Finwiz's picture

I don't think Garrett will hesitate to dust off Romo if they get behind by 10-14 points. That's the wild card here, they don't have to stick with Prescott.

RCPackerFan's picture

What amuses me is this article essentially is talking about how big of a role Cobb needs to have against Dallas.
The amusing part is how just 1-2 weeks ago most fans on here and elsewhere have been talking about how the Packers need to get rid of Cobb.
Well which is it? Is he a vital part of the offense or do we need to get rid of him?

Cobb was huge for us last week against the Giants. And mostly after Nelson got hurt. Assuming Nelson won't play and even if he were to play he will be very limited, we need contributions from everyone. The 3 biggest targets need to be Adams, Cobb and Cook. Also add in Allison and Montgomery to that mix as well.

Compared to last year when we played without Nelson, the offense is much better equipped to play without him. Adams is a different player from last year. We now have Cook, Montgomery, Allison who all are better.
Also, Rodgers is playing possibly the best ball that he has ever played.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Glad you're amused. Quite a few people suggested getting rid of Cobb, including some respected commenters, though most of those thought perhaps he could be traded during the off-season for a decent draft pick rather than just cutting him. I know I posted that his contract precludes such thinking. I don't remember people writing that Cobb was washed up.

I view your post as a straw man argument: what was said is that Cobb has not produced at the level his contract suggests he ought to. He has been vastly overpaid - so far. I think that is pretty undeniable. If it is due to injuries, that is one thing, especially if the player is going to return to form when he heals. The other thing that has been noted is that Nelson is vastly superior to Cobb as a slot receiver. I think that is pretty close to undeniable. Many of us noted that though Nelson is a better slot receiver, we need production outside from 2 receivers, and it is not like Cobb isn't a perfectly acceptable alternative to play in the slot for us. The issue then was which is better: Jordy/Adams outside with Cobb in the slot or is Adams/Allison (or someone else - maybe Cook, maybe a draft choice or FA) outside with Jordy in the slot. I think the drop off from Jordy to Allison is large (I am not as high on Allison as many - he does not look like a deep threat and appears to be a nice #4 WR to me). I voted for Cobb in the slot. Without Nelson, things have changed.

So, your larger point that we need Cobb to produce now in the absence of Nelson is somewhat contradicted in your own post. It would be nice. Your point that Cobb produced after Jordy got hurt just 16 snaps into the game is a good one: so far so good. I do realize that Cobb had 116 yards last game, 74 yards w/o the hail Mary (yes, I put an asterisk on hail Mary yardage as it is not a sustainable way of gaining yards, not to mention Cobb's pushing off Hall to make the catch).

As for the Dallas game, I do remember that Monty had 6 receptions for 52 yards as a running back and an additional 4 receptions for 48 yards as a WR. It would be nice if Cobb has a big game, but Adams, Cook, Allison and Monty also should be receiving options. Cobb at the least needs to contribute.

Personally, I don't see Cobb's 4.46 combine speed anymore. He has some quickness. I doubt that Cobb is a top 3 slot receiver anymore, but I do think a healthy Cobb is still top 10 or so slot guy. Here's to hoping Cobb rejoins the 1000 yard club next season.

DrealynWilliams's picture

"The amusing part is how just 1-2 weeks ago most fans on here and elsewhere have been talking about how the Packers need to get rid of Cobb."

Lol, don't act brand new, RC, You already know how people are here.

"What have you done for me lately?!"

Lphill's picture

RC is correct many here said Cobb was washed up , apparently injuries play a huge role when it comes to performance , the guy is a gamer he played hurt last year and this year also, personally I hope Cobb stays a Packer for life.

BaldingersBentDigit's picture

I am surprisingly confident that The Mighty Green Bay Packers will win this weekend and proceed all the way to the Super Bowl. No reason in particular, just a quiet confidence. We could have a surprise player rise to the occasion.

pacman's picture

I'm guessing we have a lot of Montgomery out of the backfield targeted as primary receiver. There have been many times where he seems to be left alone as outlet. I hope AR doesn't resort forcing it downfield when we need to move the chains. We have enough weapons on offense. Can we play 12 men on D and 10 on O<g>?

porupack's picture

I agree seems that many times I saw an open outlet receiver when Rodgers went for a deeper pass. Not complaining, since it is important to stretch the field even if risks are higher for incompletion. So Monty should have his chances at for receiving out of the backfield.

cuervo's picture

I don't know that anyone said we should get rid of Cobb, but the fact is we didn't miss him when he was injured before the last game....Allison picked up his slack.

Did he perform in the last game...absolutely, and for what he's being paid it would be nice if he could perform like that all the time. I like Cobb, he's tougher then hell and he's a good reciever. That said, he's also massively overpaid...there are numerous slot recievers that are much more productive than him (we're playing one this week).

That said, it's good he's relatively healthy because we'll need another stellar performance from him.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

You make good points. I think Beasley is better suited for a rookie QB and for Prescott in general than for Romo. I'd guess this is a career year for Beasley, who is only 5'8" tall. I don't think Beasley would fare as well had Romo been the QB. Still, 75 receptions for 833 yards is a really nice year, particularly when you're the 41st highest paid WR in the NFL, having signed for just $3.4M AAV. I do think Cobb clearly has been, and is likely to be in the future, the better slot receiver.

Handsback's picture

Green Bay will be going against 7 DBs right off the bat and probably have Lee (Dallas's best LB) shadowing Monty or Rodgers coming out of the backfield. That means an even bigger role for Cook and running the ball by Rip and Michaels. The Cowboys have won by making teams one dimensional and pounding the ball without mercy.

The Packers can't let their Dline and LBs get out of their assigned lanes for this game. If they do.....Zek will get his yards and keep Rodgers on the bench. Make Dallas face those 3rd and 4-5 yards to go when they have the ball.

Keep the chains moving for the Packer's offense and use the running game to keep them honest. Separation won't be an issue if they move the ball in small chunks verses going for the home run on third and 2 situations.

As I stated will be a great coaching victory if the Pack pulls this game out and sets them up nicely for another playoff run to the SB.

Bearmeat's picture

Rodgers will have time to throw. Their DL has an inflated ranking against the run due to always being in the lead this year. We have more weapons (and higher quality players) on the perimeter than they do cover guys. We're about to flip the script on them.

Let's see if they stick to the run when they're down 14 in the 2nd quarter. It's going to happen.

porupack's picture

How many screen plays have GB offense run against Giants? How many against Detroit?

I can only recall 1 or 2, and one of those was well defensed. Whatever happened to the GB screen play, that announcers used to laud as the team who ran it the best?

ironman3169's picture

That was the Favre Holmgren era, I believe.

LayingTheLawe's picture

Dallas has a balanced offense that can run and throw well and looks like a scary matchup. But on defense I don't really see anything that can slow down the Packer offense the way it has been playing.

You hope Dallas forgets how to switch the intensity back on after not playing for weeks now. They had clinched everything by week 16 and were cruising. In week 17 they played it like a preseason game. And then they were off for a week. Now they have to go from that to playing at playoff intensity against a team that has been in survival mode for 2 months now. It may be a shock to them.

Samson's picture

Dallas is completely healthy.
Dallas can run the ball at will against anyone.
The Dallas "D" is better than any GB has faced since, well, the Dallas "D". (during the regular season)
Dallas is rested and playing at home.

All this is just to somewhat counter the silly homerism above. -- Come on, the Pack could pull out a "V" in Dallas, but they will need some breaks and another 'lights out' game from AR. -- Please, stop with the BS!!

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I don't see anything in the body of the article that supports the headline's suggestion that Cobb won't have any trouble getting separation.

marpag1's picture

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