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The next two Weeks Present the best time for Cook, Packers to Reunite

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The next two Weeks Present the best time for Cook, Packers to Reunite

After the last two years, high ankle sprains aren't a joke in Green Bay.

Ty Montgomery fell victim to one early in 2015 and never rebounded from it in the same season. Eddie Lacy and Davante Adams were also two skill position players who spent a majority of 2015 rehabbing and playing through less-severe ankle injuries.

The Packers feared their newest acquisition in Jared Cook may have been the latest to join the infamous club, and with high-ankle sprains, it's difficult to set out a specified return time. Wednesday was his first day back in padded practice, offering a glimmer of hope that Cook would be available on offense for the Packers come Sunday.

If so, Cook would be lining up against the team who originally drafted him in 2009. It'll be just the third meeting between the Tennessee Titans and the Packers since 2008, and the second since a 55-7 routing at Lambeau Field in 2012 in favor of the home team. If the stars were to align and put this scenario into action, Cook couldn't have picked a better time to be a tight end in Green Bay.

Tight ends have, for the most part, seen a higher source of production during the second half of the season for the Packers. Coincidentally, the second half of the season begins this Sunday in Tennessee.

Jermichael Finely's 2009 campaign saw 31 total targets in the first half of the season, as opposed to a heightened amount of 41 in the second half. It was just his second year aiming to get on the same page with Aaron Rodgers, who was in his second year as the team's primary starting quarterback.

2011 wasn't as much of a vast difference. Finely was targeted 44 times during the first half of the season and 48 during the second. In a year where Rodgers was spreading the ball around to his hoard of targets and posting what has gone on to become one of the best single passer seasons in NFL history, Finley was a key contributor.

Finley may have seen a small decrease in targets during the second half of 2012, as well, but nevertheless, his yards per reception skipped up from 9.86 in the first half of the season to 12.27 in the latter stage. The same can be said of Richard Rodgers' rookie season in 2014 where he began seeing more opportunities down the stretch of the season as opposed to the first several weeks.

2016 tells a different story offensively, however. The Packers, on film, don't look like the powerhouse offensive superpower that the NFL has come to recognize over the last few seasons. With Rodgers under center, anything less than success is an excuse for panic. Rodgers has missed certain throws that would normally be textbook in his sleep, and that can no longer be attributed to receivers failing to get open.

With Cook back in the lineup and a newfound sense of urgency as a 4-4 team hitting the final eight games of the season, the Packers may finally be able to do what they initially spent $2.75 million to see. Getting Cook to vertically spread the field and provide another target for opposing defensive coordinators to account for in the aerial attack. Cook's only set of statistics in Green Bay include just 11 targets through the first three games of the season, six catches and 53 yards before suffering his injury in the week three home-opener.


Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (24) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Gonna need Cook vs. Washington and Philly, so I'm inclined to give him another week since I think we can beat Tenn w/o him. But then, I thought we could beat Indy w/o him as well. Hmmm... I guess it is a medical decision.

Edit: I read that Cook was a full participant in practice.

Nick Perry's picture

I agree with every word of your comment. When the schedule came out I thought the only "Tough Game" of this stretch was maybe Washington. If this team was who we all thought they were I'd say the Titans weren't going to be a problem at all. But the Titans run the ball extremely well with Murray and Mariota could really give GB fits, especially if Matthews doesn't play again this week.

The Packers need to put together a strong all around game this week to build some confidence. Losing to Washington and/or Philly would really hurt the Packers playoff chances if you think they can even make the playoffs.

They've lost to Minnesota, Dallas, and Atlanta already. That's 3 NFC Teams that own the Tie-Breaker over the Packers already, adding Philly and / or Washington to the list might be too much to overcome for this team.

carusotrap's picture

Considering our performance against IND, I'm curious what makes you think we can so easily beat TEN.

dobber's picture

Exactly. I don't go for the "must win" mantra very often, but from this point onward, the Packers need to approach every game as a must-win. They need to start playing with a chip on their shoulder on a consistent basis. Some of these guys are playing for contracts...I'd like to see them act like it.

rdent's picture

Dobber,I am listening to 107.5 The Fan and after being asked if this weeks game is a must win AR said he never liked the term and went on to say "World War ll was a must win,"I don't know what to make of that comment do you? It appears to me there's still no sense of urgency with AR and that is a bit concerning to me,as a leader one would think he would lead the call to try and turn this season around, maybe it's just that laid back California dude thing but I would like to hear more out of him than that.

dobber's picture

I personally would like the leader of your offense and a potential HOF player to recognize some kind of a sense of urgency. It could be that there's plenty in the locker room and that he's really just deflecting it (taking a que from his HC and GM). But the RELAX game comes to mind in that regard...

rdent's picture

Your right there, surely there is a sense of urgency, eg: Daniels rallying the D to play angry and AR may be keeping it in the locker room and not feeding the media. We can only imagine what is going on behind closed doors.

dschwalm's picture

Based on their last 3 performances, the Pack will be fortunate to keep it close. My prediction is Tennessee -36; Packers -15. When you have a porous pass defence against an accurate QB, and a declining run defence against one of the best running back tandems in the NFL, the above score may be kind to the Packers. The only glimmer of hope is that the Titans have a losing record, and the Packers usually do well again teams with losing records.

Nick Perry's picture

I think that's the point, I don't think any game for the Packers especially against a team like Tennessee with a power run game is an "Easy Win". Before the season started absolutely, easy win. Today, 50-50??

Is Matthews back? Cook or Starks? Lang? Is McCarthy going back to his bombs away offense of 3rd and 1??

Tundraboy's picture

The days of easy wins are in hibernation.

Finwiz's picture

Never, ever....assume the Packers can beat anyone this year. There are no sure wins with this team in 2016. People need to face the facts - they aren't that good.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Mea culpa, at least a little, but essentially I stand by my post. GB is close to being in must-win territory, which I failed to acknowledge. We can probably lose 1 more game, perhaps 2 (but who knows what record we need to win the division at this point - maybe 9-7 is good enough?), and we still have 8 games to play.

Yes, I think we can beat Tenn w/o Cook. Tenn (4-5) has beaten Cleveland, Jacksonville, Miami, and Detroit - all fairly bad teams (11-23 inc. 0-9 Browns, but Miami and Detroit are 9-8 at least). They've lost to Houston, Indy, San Diego, Oakland, Minnesota (25-18, inc. the 7-2 Raiders). But I acknowledged that I (and all of the CHTV authors) thought we'd beat Indy, so I clearly hedged a bit.

I don't think we can afford another set back with Cook. I don't think we are too likely to beat Washington and Philly w/o an infusion of receiving talent, and modest blocking ability, nor do I think we have much chance of making noise during the playoffs, if we get there, without Cook being what we all hoped he'd be when he was signed.

Razer's picture

Having a TE and knowing how to use him may be the bigger issue. I am hopefully that Cook gives us another dimension but if we flair him out into the flats or wait for him to get open 30 yards downfield then it will be business as usual.

Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers need to adapt to a new reality. No backfield and teams playing you a certain way means you need to be more creative. Plug Cook into a new system.

RCPackerFan's picture

I agree.

The key to the season IMO is for McCarthy to be creative in game planning the offense. Changing personnel, using different formations, the use of Montgomery out of the backfield.

IMO, 1 of the biggest reasons why the offense struggled in the 2nd half of the Falcons game and the first 3 quarters in the Colts game was the fact he tried using Richard Rodgers and Perillo as much as they did.

They are not good enough players to be used as much as they have been.
Getting Cook back will definitely help as he is a big time upgrade over those 2 players. But when Cook comes back I don't want them to strictly use him as a TE on the end of the OL. Spread him out, moving around.

Since '61's picture

Cook's return should open some things up in the passing game. The Titans will have very little film on Cook so MM should have a significant role for him in his return. Hopefully, Cobb and Monty are at 100% as well. That said, Rodgers needs to get the ball out quickly and stop waiting to see a defensive holding or PI flag to come out. He seemed to have gotten passed it during the Bears and Falcons games but went back to it during the Colts game until the 4Q when it was too little too late. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

RCPackerFan's picture

Cooks return will drastically improve the TE position. Richard Rodgers and Perillo wouldn't make most teams rosters. Rodgers has really taken a step backwards this year so far. Neither player can block very well. While they can catch, they are no threat after they catch the ball.

Cook may not be regarded as one of the best TE's in the league, but he is a viable starter. He brings a matchup problem also that they have not had since Finley has left.

If Cook can come back this week even in a limited role, I hope McCarthy schemes him into the offense. In Cooks last game he started spreading him out and taking advantage of his speed/size. Hopefully we see more of that.

dobber's picture

Monty in the backfield, Cook (either in-line or split out), Cobb, Nelson and Adams/Janis/Davis. Play fast.


RCPackerFan's picture

I like it...
Something that could be really good is Cook in at TE with Montgomery in the backfield. Whether the passing game or Running game Cook improves that formation from Rodgers and Perillo.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I like Cook at TE in-ine with Monty in the backfield, Nelson (or Cobb - I like Nelson better) in the slot, with Davis (or Nelson if we have Cobb in the slot instead) and Adams split wide. We could run out of this formation, such that defenses would like to match up with a LB, or more likely a safety. How much of an advantage this is for us depends on the personnel the defense has at LB and S. We could also pass out of this, either keeping Monty in to block (well, he is a bit of an adventure pass blocking, but still) or motioning Monty out with say 5-8 seconds left on the play clock to turn it into 4 WR plus TE set. MM could also have Cook lined up not in-line but as an H back, and keep Monty as a RB or motion Monty out as a receiver. Lots of possibilities.

I still like the idea of Rip being in as a lead blocker for Monty. If you want, you can motion Monty out to act as a WR perhaps in the slot or flanker, and still have Rip for pass pro or for a delayed handoff etc., as a surprise/keep them honest thing.

Handsback's picture

I hope Cook can make a difference. The problem is how they use him. If they keep the same scheme as last week...I'm not sure he'll make any difference. If they go to their "make people account for Monty (or substitute other RB) out of the backfield and move the chains offense then he will make a difference.
This team has proven to be average over the past calendar year. It's time they prove to themselves if they are legit playoff team or just average pretender.

RCPackerFan's picture

I agree and disagree.. I think Cook simply helps because he is that much of an upgrade over Rodgers. Cook doesn't trip over his feet while running.

But I hope to see them keep using Montgomery out of the backfield. And I hope they don't keep trying to have Montgomery stay in to block when they are passing. That is a complete waste of his talents.

Tundraboy's picture

"The next two Weeks Present the best time for Cook, Packers to Reunite"

Must admit that I laughed when I read the title of this article. Let's see there's 8 more games left and I'm going to guess that Cook sits out one more game, comes back the following week, is then used sparingly for the next two games, which leaves five games for him to play the rest of the year. Then its anyone's guess how many snaps, targets he'll see and whether he is slowly inserted into a rotation with RRod and Perillo. Then he will be ready for the playoffs assuming we make it that far this year.

Not being pessimistic, just following MMs typical pattern.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

LOL. I agree with your scenario as being the most likely. Unless MM is cornered.

Tundraboy's picture

I was just thinking, maybe he could take a few weeks leave of absence and we could right the ship. It would answere a lot of questions about rest of staff on in game management abilities.

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