Packers Playbook: Randall Cobb on the Reverse?

Randall Cobb

Could we see Packers KR/WR Randall Cobb on the reverse in 2012?

I was wandering around my usually Green Bay Packers news and blog sites the other day, when I happened across this article on Bleacher Report from our very own Michael Dulka. It’s a list of “5 Ways to Utilize Randall Cobb’s Skill Set,” and one way in particular really intrigued me. This is what Michael had to say about Cobb being used in the running game:

Cobb is undeniably fast. The Packers can take advantage of his speed by directly handing him the ball. With a weak running game, this is a way to give the defense a different look and force them to adapt to a non-passing look.

In the past, Donald Driver has had success running reverses because his speediness allows him to get to the edge quickly. Cobb perfectly fits the mold of a receiver ideal for running reverses. Any way to get Cobb in space should be effective.

Last season, Cobb had two running opportunities, though none of them actually came on a reverse. His first chance was on a handoff from Rodgers in the shotgun formation. It was during a Week 7 game against the Minnesota Vikings, and it only managed to gain the offense a yard. (Though to be honest, having Cobb motion to the backfield was kind of a giveaway.)

Cobb got another shot at running the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 15. It was the Packers’ second play of the third quarter, and Cobb received a direct handoff as the quarterback (Rodgers was on the sidelines). The Packers were in a Wildcat/Joker formation with four wideouts (including TE Tom Crabtree) and TE D.J. Williams lined up as a fullback. They managed 4 yards on the play as Cobb took off running directly after the snap.

Though none of these plays highlighted Cobb on a reverse route, Michael makes a great point about Cobb’s speed. Along with instinctive vision for finding running holes, this could make him a big play threat on the reverse.

But why stop there? As a part-time Pittsburgh Steelers fan, I can’t help but recall a play from Super Bowl XL that could fit Cobb’s skillset. Here’s the video from YouTube:



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

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.