The two most significant moves the Green Bay Packers made this offseason were on display against the Detroit Lions on Monday night. Aaron Jones had himself a career night with four touchdowns and appeared to quell some of the chatter about whether or not it is worth it to pay your running backs big money. He looked every part unstoppable against the Lions, who were coming off a surprising Week 1 performance that ended in a loss despite an effective offensive showing.
The other big move of the offseason was the decision to reacquire Randall Cobb from the Houston Texans. At the time, the optics of the move did not make much sense. The Packers did it to make Aaron Rodgers happy. Green Bay had a full complement of pass-catchers ready to start the season, with new additions Devin Funchess and rookie Amari Rodgers looking to step up in a big way for a team that needed all the help it could get behind Davante Adams. Cobb was brought in to take the role of a mentor for the position group and help mold Amari Rodgers into a great slot receiver.
However, Cobb turned back the clock on Monday night and showcased exactly why Rodgers wanted him back. The trust that the two forged during a large part of the last decade was on full display on some critical downs in the second half.
It was vintage Aaron Rodgers. He snapped the ball quickly as the Lions were making a defensive substitution to earn a free play. The free plays have become a Rodgers trademark, and the ambition to catch teams slacking was absent in the Week 1 loss to the New Orleans Saints. Before Dan Campbell’s Lions knew what hit them, Cobb was 14 yards upfield with his first catch of the game.
Rodgers almost had another free play opportunity later in the same drive, which he also completed to Cobb. The unspoken connection between the two players is unmatched by everyone else on the roster not named Davante Adams. Even after his years away from Green Bay, it speaks volumes to Cobb’s role on the team that Rodgers was looking for him first on each of those opportunities.
This trust in Cobb is where the team is getting the value out of his contract. Cobb is, at best, the fourth-best receiver on the team and is making over $8 million this year. He only caught one pass in the season opener, which was from Jordan Love after the game was already out of reach. At a glance, this is terrible value for a team whose looming financial struggles are well-documented.
Cobb’s three receptions for 26 yards this week are nothing to necessarily write home about on their own, though they came at crucial moments and helped maintain the momentum that led the Packers to completely shut out the Lions in the second half. As annoying as it can sound, his impact went beyond a simple box-score metric. Cobb was one of the most critical players on the day as Rodgers recaptured some of his magic.
Even though his involvement has been relatively minimal so far, expect the upward trend to continue as Cobb gets reacclimated to the team. This week proved that his connection with Rodgers is still there, a significant boon for a team that lacks consistency and clutch play behind Adams. Cobb returns to a Packers team with a brand new head coach and offensive system, so it will take some time for him to mesh.
Cobb, 31, isn’t getting any younger. His best years are behind him, but he has displayed that he still has enough left in the tank to help this Green Bay team in many ways. If the defensive woes get addressed, and the Packers find themselves in position to make another run at the Super Bowl, Cobb will likely be an integral part of it.
Rodgers knew what he was doing lobbying to get Cobb back. The early signs point towards the team and fans being rewarded for trust in their quarterback. It’s great to have Cobb back in green and gold. Look for him to continue to have a compelling second honeymoon season with Green Bay.