See, I’ve always been a fan of the end around and it’s even cooler cousins, the reverse and double reverse. It probably goes back to my childhood, when I was that kid who spent hours in his room diagramming plays for our sandlot football team. “Team” being used here as a loose term for a motley bunch of adolescents who would play for the neighborhood “championship” against other groups of motley kids from around the block.
I would diagram the plays on loose leaf paper and then put them all in a folder with “confidential” stamped all over it. I would bring it with me to “practice” which took place on this little patch of grass we called a park that had a concrete sidewalk cutting right through the middle of our “field.”
The reason I mention all of this is because if there were fifty plays in the “playbook”, at least twenty were some form of end-around or reverse. Anyone could draw up a slant pass or a pitch out, but turning that pitch out into a triple reverse, that required my special brand of football genius.
My love for pigskin trickery probably has it’s genesis in the American Football League (AFL), which I was a fan of even before I became a Packers fan. The league was obsessed with bringing a different approach to football, and flea flickers and trick plays were a big part of that.
Through the ensuing years, I don’t ever remember trick plays being a big part of the Packer’s offense, regardless of the coach. The last few years, however, have been a veritable wasteland for lovers of football trickery like myself.
It always seemed a bit ironic that Mike McCarthy, a supposed offensive mastermind, never saw fit to make an occasional end around or reverse a part of the Packer’s offense. In his defense, however, the recent Packers have not really had a player that seemed to be any good at it. The few times we did see it tried did not result in much more than failure.
Perhaps that trend ended when Ted Thompson selected Randall Cobb in the second round of the 2001 NFL draft.
For the last three NFL drafts, I have been pining (like the dead parrot) for the Packers to select a different type of receiver for their team. One that is as comfortable running with the ball, as he is being a receiver. This last draft. I was hoping for one of two players, Jerrell Jernigan or Randall Cobb. I envisioned a big boost to the special teams as well as the potential to indulge my guilty pleasure – adding the end-around or reverse to the offensive war chest.
I’ve been so desperate to add this dimension to the Packers offense, I even suggested last summer that possibly undrafted rookie Sam Shields could be used in that role. I wrote at the time, ”
How about getting the ball into Shields’ hands on offense for a few plays a game? He can line up as a wide receiver and be used to stretch the field. Or used as a decoy to force a safety to commit sooner they they might like, creating open spaces underneath. Or perhaps he could be used to bring the end-around or reverse back to the Packers playbook (you all remember what those plays look like don’t you?).
Certainly teams would have to respect his incredible speed, I thought, and who knows, he may even be good at it. Well, Shields’ performance returning kickoffs showed he doesn’t really have the natural instincts for running with the ball. So much for that idea. But that’s how much I wanted to see those plays return to the Packers offense. I was desperate.
Enter Randall Cobb. I have heard practice reports from three different fans and a sportswriter that the Packers have been working on end-arounds and reverses with Cobb as the final recipient of the ball.
Music to my ears…
But wait, there’s more. Some of these flea flickers reportedly have ended with a run/pass option, further taking advantage of the former quarterback’s skill set. Seems that Mike McCarthy is excited to have a new playmaker in this offense and is looking for ways to get the ball in his hands.
As the line in the Semisonic song “Closing Time” goes, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” This could be the end of the flea flicker-less era in Green Bay and the start of a new dawn where defensive coordinator’s heads are made to explode with even more to worry about.
All I can say is, finally.——————
Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.