Green Bay Packers desperate for a Randall Cobb breakout


The Green Bay Packers should exit their week seven bye in better shape than they entered it. The return of Davante Adams will help to spread the offensive wealth while a week of rest will benefit the banged-up Eddie Lacy and James Jones. Above all else, though, the Packers will need Randall Cobb to return to his old form.

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Still just 25 and in the first year of a new deal, Cobb has struggled to find downfield opportunities without running mate Jordy Nelson drawing coverage across the field. Cobb produced a surprising number of deep plays in 2014, good for a yards-per-reception of 14.1 to go along with 12 touchdowns. Through the first six games of 2015, that number has fallen to 11.7.

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In large part, this can be linked to a shoulder injury that Cobb suffered at the beginning of the season. While it seems counterintuitive to think that an upper-body injury inhibits a receiver from getting open, it’s particularly difficult for a player of Cobb’s skill set. As a smaller receiver that operates in short bursts and small areas, often across the middle of the field, many of Cobb’s routes are heavy on contact within the first five yards.

Having Jones and Adams on the outside should allow the Green Bay Packers to shift Cobb around the slot positions more frequently, and especially facing defenses like Denver and Carolina over the next two weeks, that quick-hit option over the middle will be critical. This should help tight end Richard Rodgers, as well. Perhaps the key to getting the most out of Cobb in 2015 is realizing that, without Nelson, he needs to be used differently.

In Cobb’s best game of the season, with seven receptions for 91 yards and three scores in week three against the Kansas City Chiefs, Rodgers creatively got the ball to Cobb in space and allowed him to do the rest. This can’t be the only strategy with Cobb, but given the limitations of the offense currently, that needs to earn a greater share. Doing so could also cover for the running game as Eddie Lacy looks to make some sense of his season.

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Over the past three games, Cobb has caught 10 of his 19 targets for 105 yards and zero touchdowns. The factors of supporting weapons and health now appear to be moving in his favor, and when Cobb is right, Rodgers shows little hesitation to run the offense through him.

Expect to see Cobb shifted into the backfield at some point over the coming games, as well, another benefit of Adams’ return. Against these defenses, the Packers will need every inside edge that they can get. That starts with Cobb.