It sounds like Packers WR Randall Cobb fractured his fibula on this hit from Ravens S Matt Elam and will miss 6-8 weeks.
As Cobb withered on the ground, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers raced to the scene and expressed his displeasure with Elam for striking one of his favorite targets low. After the game, Rodgers had this to say:
“I just thought from my vantage point, he had plenty of time to not take out a guy’s legs in that situation. I thought he could have hit in the proper hitting zone and that’s what I told him.”
It’s good to see the former MVP all fired up, but his ire is misfocused in this situation. The hit that Elam laid on Cobb wasn’t dirty.
Elam, a rookie, is listed at 5-foot-10, 206 pounds. Cobb, in his third year and known for being fearless inside and dangerous after the catch, is listed at 5-foot-10, 192 pounds.
This wasn’t a linebacker lining up a defenseless and diminutive wide receiver. This was a rookie defensive back trying to stop a legit NFL playmaker. From a very young age, football players are taught to get low when tackling. It’s a lot easier to bring down a guy roughly your size or bigger if you go at him low instead of high.
Leverage wasn’t the only reason for Elam to go low in that situation. There’s also the issue of a blow-to-the-head penalty and fine. If Elam hits Cobb high and there’s even the slightest appearance that a blow to the helmet area occurred, it’s 15 yards extra yards an automatic first down for the Packers. Not only was Elam making a logical decision to tackle Cobb low on the play, he was also taking the necessary precaution to avoid a blow-to-the-head personal foul that would’ve hurt his team, and a possible fine that would have shrunk his bank account.
To Rodgers’ point about having plenty of time to hit Cobb in the “proper hitting zone”: Since when are a wide receiver’s legs not part of the proper hitting zone? It’s fine to hit a player with the ball low as long as it’s not the quarterback while he’s in the pocket. It’s unfair to ask Elam to decide in a fraction of a second that he should aim higher, but not too high.
By the time he decides to not go low and sets his sights somewhere on Cobb’s torso, Cobb would likely be skipping into the end zone and Elam’s coaches would chew him out for not being aggressive or decisive enough.
And if Elam does square up and nail Cobb in the chest area, who’s to say the impact wouldn’t have cracked one of Cobb’s ribs? This is football. Unfortunately, injuries happen in football. Every play where a player gets injured isn’t necessarily a dirty play.
I admire Rodgers’ passion and his dedication to his teammate in this situation, but he’s wrong on this one. It wasn’t a dirty hit, or even a questionable hit. By confronting Elam, Rodgers forced T.J. Lang to intervene and Lang got flagged for a 15-yard personal foul. Mason Crosby missed a 44-yard field goal on the following play.
It sure would’ve been nice to have those extra 15 yards for Crosby to work with. Rodgers wasn’t happy when Mike McCarthy mistakenly threw a challenge flag against the Vikings last season. He shouldn’t be happy with himself after his actions led to a 15-yard penalty and contributed to a blown field goal.
In the end, the Packers won the game and now have to move on without Cobb for a while. Plays like this make for interesting discussions in the aftermath of a tough game, but as the season rolls on, this moment will be lumped in with all the other ups and downs that occur throughout 16 regular season games and (hopefully) who knows how many playoff contests.
The Packers can help us all forget about it by regrouping without Cobb and putting themselves in a good position to make a run once No. 18 returns.——————
Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .