Green Bay Packers

Randall Cobb's Return Has Done More Than Just Appease Rodgers

Photo credit: Dan Powers (USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin)

The Green Bay Packers and their fans have a lot to be thankful for at this point in the season. The heavily injured Packers beat the all-in Los Angeles Rams in a matchup between two NFC titans. Their 9-3 record currently gives them the No. 2 seed in the NFC, and they have as many wins as the rest of the NFC North combined. To top it off, this team finally gets a much-needed bye week to heal and prepare for the rest of the season.

But watching the Green Bay offense makes one thing particularly clear: The Packers should be especially thankful for the return of Randall Cobb. Not only did Cobb’s return create a pathway for Aaron Rodgers‘ reconciliation with the team (for now), but Cobb has carved out a significant role in the offense as one of the most reliable safety blankets in the passing game.

In a season marred by injury and off-field drama, Cobb brought a steady and reliable presence to Matt LaFleur’s offense that cannot be understated.

It all seemed unlikely when rumors arose before training camp that the Packers were preparing for a reunion with Cobb. Brian Gutekunst had moved on and has a history of avoiding veterans he believes are past their prime. He’d just drafted Amari Rodgers, a player thought to be a younger Randall Cobb-type receiver.

But Gutekunst brought the former Packer back home, and Rodgers returned to the team. With a crowded wide receiver room at the time, it was uncertain what role Cobb might play. But a few things were clear. Rodgers was happy to have his friend back. Cobb was thrilled to be back, describing his experience coming home like getting out of prison. And the Packer faithful were delighted to see a fan-favorite return.

Fast forward to today. The sixth-round pick Gutekunst sent to the Houston Texans has more than paid off in Green Bay. Cobb looks as explosive as he did in 2014, having found the fountain of youth on his return to the promised land. He climbed his way up the depth chart by being one of the most reliable targets on the field.

Cobb may not have fantasy football numbers, but he’s the closest thing Green Bay has to a WR2. Over 12 weeks, Cobb has 28 receptions on 39 targets, good for 375 yards (13.4 YPR) and five touchdowns. Twenty-one of those catches were first downs. He’s also rushed once for a yard, and his 72 PFF grade is his highest since his dominant 2014 season.

Cobb has looked like a different man compared to his years in Dallas and Houston. In 15 games with the Dallas Cowboys, Cobb caught 55 out of 83 targets for 831 yards and three touchdowns. In 10 games in Houston, he had 38 receptions on 48 targets, 441 yards, and three TDs (71.6 PFF grade).

He may have fewer yards so far, but Cobb’s been much more efficient and a much more significant contributor beyond the numbers. Cobb is often open when Rodgers chooses to go for the big play. It’s clear that the connection with Rodgers hasn’t weakened after spending time apart.

Cobb’s TD numbers are the best since 2015 when he had six with Green Bay. However, they’ve all come in three games this year. Cobb played a significant role against Pittsburgh with two TDs. On Thursday Night Football against the then-undefeated Arizona Cardinals, Cobb played WR1 for an extremely thin receiving core and had two more scores.

Cobb had the best day of his second stint with the team this past Sunday against the Rams. Cobb had four receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown. That would be good for a full game, but that was all in the first half (he exited with a groin injury after halftime).

Cobb had a major special teams gaffe, muffing a punt return that let the Rams get the ball back. I’m willing to chalk this up to special teams being cursed rather than a true knock against the veteran receiver.

While the passing offense will always run through Davante Adams, the dominant WR1 commands so much extra attention that it sets up his teammates for success, something he acknowledged following Sunday’s victory. This week, it was Cobb who had a major contribution.

Cobb has rivaled Marquez Valdes-Scantling for WR2 status. Cobb is third on the team in receptions, after Adams and Aaron Jones. He’s second in yards and tied for first in touchdown receptions. Not a bad return on investment for a 31-year-old sixth-round pick.

Cobb brings a unique element to the offense. Rodgers will always push for the big play, but Cobb is there for a reliable target — and he’s pretty good on big plays too. He’s been one of Green Bay’s best off-season acquisitions. Cobb’s return is something we can all be thankful for.

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