I was wandering around my usually Green Bay Packers news and blog sites the other day, when I happened across this article on Bleacher Report from our very own Michael Dulka. It’s a list of “5 Ways to Utilize Randall Cobb’s Skill Set,” and one way in particular really intrigued me. This is what Michael had to say about Cobb being used in the running game:
Cobb is undeniably fast. The Packers can take advantage of his speed by directly handing him the ball. With a weak running game, this is a way to give the defense a different look and force them to adapt to a non-passing look.
In the past, Donald Driver has had success running reverses because his speediness allows him to get to the edge quickly. Cobb perfectly fits the mold of a receiver ideal for running reverses. Any way to get Cobb in space should be effective.
Last season, Cobb had two running opportunities, though none of them actually came on a reverse. His first chance was on a handoff from Rodgers in the shotgun formation. It was during a Week 7 game against the Minnesota Vikings, and it only managed to gain the offense a yard. (Though to be honest, having Cobb motion to the backfield was kind of a giveaway.)
Cobb got another shot at running the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 15. It was the Packers’ second play of the third quarter, and Cobb received a direct handoff as the quarterback (Rodgers was on the sidelines). The Packers were in a Wildcat/Joker formation with four wideouts (including TE Tom Crabtree) and TE D.J. Williams lined up as a fullback. They managed 4 yards on the play as Cobb took off running directly after the snap.
Though none of these plays highlighted Cobb on a reverse route, Michael makes a great point about Cobb’s speed. Along with instinctive vision for finding running holes, this could make him a big play threat on the reverse.
But why stop there? As a part-time Pittsburgh Steelers fan, I can’t help but recall a play from Super Bowl XL that could fit Cobb’s skillset. Here’s the video from YouTube:
Antwaan Randle El makes an amazing throw to Hines Ward for a touchdown in the biggest game of the year. As I said, big play potential. Granted, Bill Cowher’s Steelers were known for pulling these “gadget” or “trick” plays at the most unexpected and opportune times, but they served a purpose in the keeping the defenses honest.
I’m also not sure if Cobb has the arm-strength / accuracy for a 45-yard pass, but this type of play can go a number of ways. First off, it could very well be used as an option play, where Cobb can either throw or run. Secondly, they could simply fake the reverse and have the running back keep the ball. (This could be more effective if the reverse had been run earlier in the season.)
Either way, Cobb’s unique combination of speed, vision, and throwing ability could make the reverse option a rewarding play for the Packers. Taking the ball out of Rodger’s hands is somewhat of a risk, but as Michael noted in his article, it helps to add a hint of unpredictability to the offense from time to time.