21

December

The Birth and Death of the Packers’ Wildcat Formation

Aaron Rodgers Tom Clements Packers

Rodgers and QB coach Tom Clements likely not talking about the Wildcat formation. (Photo: Evan Siegle, GBPG)

We may have witnessed the birth and death of the Green Bay Packers “Wildcat” formation, or at least a certain Packers quarterback made it sound like it yesterday.

Before we talk about its potential mortality, let’s document the birth of the Wildcat in the Packers offense.

On Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Packers lined up Randall Cobb, a former college quarterback at Kentucky, in the formation on the second play from scrimmage to start the second half.

Cobb took the direct snap and ran off right tackle for a gain of four yards.

(For those who don’t know, the Wildcat is a single-wing formation in which, more recently, a skill player lines up in the shotgun with some kind of pre-snap motion. Once the ball is snapped, the runner has the option of running directly, handing off to the motion man or throwing, with the latter being the rare exception. However, that player usually has some kind of throwing experience or prowess in order to keep the defense honest to the pass. The Miami Dolphins, with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, ran the formation successfully during portions of the 2008 season. There are different variations of the formation, but the one listed above is which most fans are now familiar.)

The possibility of running Cobb in the Wildcat formation was briefly discussed after the Packers drafted him in the second round last April. Cobb started nine games at quarterback during his freshman season at Kentucky, throwing for two scores and running for another seven. He moved to receiver full time the next season, later becoming one of Kentucky’s best all-time players. Despite the switch, Cobb obviously possessed the kind of versatility to pull off that kind of formation on occasion in the NFL.

But after just one snap in the formation, that page in the Packers playbook might have been torn out.

While nothing catastrophic happened during the Packers’ trail run at the formation, Jason Wilde’s weekly interview with quarterback Aaron Rodgers suggests that Sunday’s appearance of the Wildcat may be a one-time deal.

“I’m not crazy about it,” Rodgers said matter-of-factly when asked about the formation.

26

April

Packers Prospect Profile – WR Randall Cobb, Kentucky – 2011 NFL Draft

1) Profile:

Randall Cobb

College: Kentucky

Position: WR

Height: 5’11″ Weight: 191 lbs.

Born: August 22, 1990 From: Alcoa, TN

2) High School / College Highlights: At Aloca High School, Cobb was a standout both on and off the field. As a four-year member of the track team, Cobb finished third in Tennessee in the 100-meter dash his senior season with a time of 10.75 seconds. He also was an All-District basketball player his junior and senior years, and a member of the academic honor roll.

Even with all those accolades, football was still the sport where Cobb excelled the most. He earned All-State honors during his last two years, quarterbacking the Tornadoes to a 27-3 over that span. His senior year, the dual-threat quarterback was picked as Tennessee’s “Mr. Football.” Rivals still only rated him as the 18th best prospect in Tennessee, and Scout.com gave him just a two-star rating.

Once at Kentucky, however, Cobb proved his worth. He made the SEC All-Freshman team in 2008 by playing at quarterback, receiver, running back and returner. Cobb was named All-SEC First Team his final three seasons at Kentucky, and an All-American his senior year (2010).

3) College Stats: 144 catches for 1661 yards and 13 TD’s; 228 rushes for 1313 yards and 22 TD’s; 44 kick returns for 1081 yards; 63 punt returns for 619 yards and 2 TD’s; 62 completions for 689 yards and 5 TD’s

4) NFL Combine Results: 4.46-second 40-yard dash, 16 bench-presses at 225 pounds, 33.5″ vertical leap, 115″ broad jump, 7.08-second 3-cone drill, 4.34-second 20-yard shuffle, 11.56-second 60-yard shuffle

5) Strengths/Weaknesses: Cobb is as versatile a player as there is in the 2011 NFL Draft. While his main position in the NFL will be receiver, Cobb has the ability to line up at running back, punt and kick returner or quarterback in the Wildcat formation.

As strictly a receiver, Cobb is best suited to play in the slot. He never shies away from contact and isn’t afraid to go over the middle to make plays. Once he gets the ball in his hands, Cobb is tough to get down. His history at running back and compact frame allow him to break tackles and gain yards after the catch.