Randall Cobb in Green Bay – The Beginning of the End Around?

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While most Packers fans have high hopes for Randall Cobb this year as a kick returner and/or receiver, I’m taking it a step further. Cobb could be the answer to my end-around dreams.

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.


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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.


28 thoughts on “Randall Cobb in Green Bay – The Beginning of the End Around?

  1. I am excited at the potential dimensions Cobb will allow McCarthy to add to the offense this year. And that’s not even counting the punt return game…

  2. Al, that would indeed be a welcome addition to the play book. They have used it sparingly in the past with some success. I’d like to see a scheme similar to the UW offense where variations which at time include the TE be installed.

    And of course, you knew this was coming, to be successful the end around penetration of the Oline is not to be allowed. Hence, MM must improve the performance at LG. Whoever that may be.

  3. More end arounds would be fine, but I’d also be fine with mixing in a jet sweep with Cobb every now and then. There’s not much of a difference, but the jet sweep isn’t quite as much of a trick play compared to the end around. It’s designed more to get a quick player into space.

      1. A lot of college teams run it and the Vikings run it w/ Harvin. In a multi-receiver set, the nearest slot receiver “jets” to the backfield, takes the handoff and follows a pulling lineman upfield. It develops quicker than an end-around and isn’t necessarily designed as a trick play. It’s designed more like a traditional running play, only you’re giving the ball to a speedy WR with a full head of steam instead of your RB.

  4. Al, great minds think alike. I also like Jernigan and here’s what I wrote on May 4th to a Matt Boewen piece at NFP:

    Matt, another option you didn’t mention Cobb could excel at and has been non existent in the Packer arsenal is the reverse…then add a pass off the reverse…yikes!!!

    I also included an even further stretch:
    “Wildcat: I know the argument is you never want to take the ball out of an elite QB’s hands like Aaron Rodgers (AR) and I’m not convinced you should but here’s another reason to use the “wildpack” besides the obvious of making the opposing DC game plan for it.
    There’s roughly 40 offensive plays in a game. If Cobb is the QB for 5 per game that’s 80 over a 16 game season (2 games worth). That’s 80 less chances for AR to get hurt, 80 less plays of wear and tear prolonging what most feel barring injury is potentially a HOF career. It’s a QB league and this may be an additional way to protect AR. I know there’s drawbacks but the upside may be worth it.”

    AND I also say Shields should have a 5-6 play sub pckg. at WR. Eerie, I don’t remember having a Vulcan mind meld done, do you?

    1. Bubba, you state:

      “That’s 80 less chances for AR to get hurt, 80 less plays of wear and tear prolonging what most feel barring injury is potentially a HOF career”.

      This isn’t exactly true. One of the reasons pro teams started to re-think the use of the wildcat formation in the NFL after the Dolphins took the league by storm with its use… is because after a while teams started to realize a major risk in running it: Once your starting QB is no longer taking the snap, he’s subject to all of the physical contact every other player on the field has to endure (or can dish out) without any of the protections and rules designed to keep him safe.

      Teams started to realize that on a wildcat snap, if the star QB is lined up in the slot or acting as a RB- whatever- the second they see he’s not taking the snap they can physically abuse him in bump and run, during a pass rush, etc, and the entire defense savors the opportunity to bowl him over en route to the ball carrier..

  5. I remember those days AL,as I watched my brothers and those who caught my eye between plays do that every weekend while my girl friends and I stood and watched in the humid heat in thirst,being entrusted to watch over the lemmonade,kool-aid,the drinks of our football heros of the era or that weekend at least.

    However,I think those plays and days of them are gone as the players today on both sides of the ball are equal in speed and are more apt to be flaged by penalty or induce an injury.

    On another note,any stats available as to attempts and effect they had in positive/negative for the team who tried them and the positive/negative for the teams that defended them i;e turnovers,penaltys,injuries.

    As much as I understand your yearning for some days gone bye,as I do also,it may be best to let those particular parts remain…gone bye.

  6. Not a fan of Cobb in the wildcat (takes the possibility of our best player, 12, touching the ball), but reverses and the such would be an added element. Even if it only happened 4-5 times a season, it’s a new wrinkle we hardly ever see. The Packers have given the ball to a receiver just 4 times in the past 3 years.

      1. Just looked up rushing stats from the past three years. Driver had two attempts, Jennings one.

  7. ahhh…sandlot football. you brought back fond memories of summer days and arguments over whether the catch was made in bounds, if the knee was down or if that was a legitimate “7 apple count” before the blitz. no, we are not using “7 banana” padre(the fat kids nickname), that is for girls.

    i am a fan of the reverse in certain situations. when you play a team like the colts that want to line up their ends wide and speed rush mixing in a reverse or even some fake reverses can really help your OTs. I am excited to see Cobb in space though.

    1. the light pole is the goal line, but what is the back of the endzone? is it the bush or is it the fence? yesterday you said it was the bush but now this week you say it is the fence? losers walk.

    2. Hmmmm, I’ve never heard of counting fruit. We always counted “Mississippis”, I guess because the word was long enough to ensure a full second went by with each one. And oh, the arguments. Sometimes they took more time than the game…

        1. MM,

          I’d like to ask you something by email. If that’s OK, please send me an email to ” jerseyalgbp at gmail”



    3. I was thinking the same thing, FMMN. One or two real reverses could really open up the fake ones.

  8. HUGE boner. And that’s putting it politely.

    The formation I really, really want to see is 5 wide with Cobb as a WR, then motioning Cobb to the backfield. You can hand him the ball, you can PA, you can Wildcat… Now add the other dimention Rodgers brings as a runner.

    It’s like College football, but with elite talent all around, and with a QB that can make more than 1 read. That formation would be absolutely unstoppable. Too much talent with too much versatility.

  9. I’m sure you remember Blvd East on the Hudson,where most of the field was grass except for a ten foot piece of sidewalk that ran down the middle and we had to two hand touch the ball carrier there.I’m shocked no one got killed. I guess that’s why I have a bridge to replace my missing teeth.

    1. Welcome back Pete! That’s the exact place I was talking about. You know it well… Amazing nobody ever cracked their head on the curb or broke an ankle going from Grass to concrete to Grass.

      Going to the Giants game? I picked up a couple of tickets…

  10. DJ Williams, Finley, and Jennings split out wide, blocking for Cobb on a reverse…
    I like the thought of MM showing the Wildcat. I used to be against it. During the pre-season…use it and give D-coaches something to worry about. Much like the Okey and Psycho…give ’em something to think about and spend planning time on.
    As for it’s use during the regular season, if the time is right, use it.

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