The Green Bay Packers have a lethal weapon in wide receiver/running back/punt returner/kick returner Randall Cobb, and they are still trying to utilize his full potential.
Put an emphasis on the word "trying."
Let's go back to Sunday. With 5:26 remaining in the third quarter, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers took the snap on 3rd-and-3 from the New Orleans 4-yard line and rolled out to the right.
During this process, Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins poked Rodgers in the right eye as he grabbed his face mask, forcing Rodgers out of the game.
Green Bay now had a fresh set of downs, a 21-17 lead and four chances to punch it in and extended its lead to 11 points. In stepped backup quarterback Graham Harrell, who on the very next play proceeded to trip in the process of handing the ball off to Cedric Benson, fumble and watch Jenkins redeem himself by covering up the ball.
That’s not exactly how you make a statement, Graham.
While it was kind of a freak accident, such an unfortunate incident never should have occurred, and the game should have been put away at that moment instead of the Packers having to sweat out the result.
Graham Harrell shouldn't have entered the game at quarterback—Randall Cobb should have.
It makes sense. Cobb fits the blueprint for quarterbacks in the Wildcat offense, and only having two yards to go was the perfect situation to insert Cobb and allow him to matriculate the ball into the end zone, in some shape or form.
As a former quarterback—Cobb was an SEC All-Freshman performer at Kentucky under center—it's not as if Cobb couldn't surprise the defense and drop back for a pass in a goal-line situation. And I'm sure he wouldn't have a problem handing the ball off to Benson, which is another possibility defenses would have to account for.
Cobb is one of the most versatile players in the NFL and is the most dangerous weapon in the open field for the Packers.
Quite frankly, Green Bay hasn't been using Cobb's skills to its ultimate benefit. It's not as if the Packers should remove Rodgers throughout the course of a game, but having Cobb in the backfield gives Green Bay so many more options.
We have already seen it firsthand. Cobb has only rushed the ball twice this season, but for 20 and 28 yards apiece. At one point against the Saints, Rodgers shovel-passed to Cobb up the middle for a large gain.
Cobb has yet to attempt a pass, but it could only be a matter of time—he did attempt one pass in his rookie season, an incompletion.
What were Cobb's passing numbers like in college? Rather subpar. Cobb threw for five touchdowns and five interceptions while completing just over 50 percent of his passes for a total of 689 yards over his three years at Kentucky.
Even so, throwing the football isn't the reason why Cobb should be backing up Rodgers.
Should the unfortunate occurrence of Rodgers exiting the game due to injury happen again, the Packers aren't going to want to throw the football as often as usual, regardless of who enters the game.
That's why the man who should come in is Randall Cobb.
Yes, this would seem to make Green Bay rather one-dimensional, but that depends how you define one-dimensional. With Cobb taking snaps in the backfield, he can take off running himself, hand it off or pitch it outside to Benson, or on the rare occasion, drop back to pass.
But here's the catch: Whenever the Packers find themselves in an obvious passing down, such as 3rd-and-10 or 2nd-and-17, that's where Graham Harrell steps in.
So really, this would be a co-backup situation. Does anyone really feel comfortable with Harrell holding that distinction alone based on his rap sheet?
Cobb's prior experience as a quarterback is enough to keep defenses semi-honest, and with what we have seen him do this season, there is no reason to believe Cobb can't pick up some positive yardage despite defenses keying on the run. Maybe it would look a little something like this?
Nobody wants to see Aaron Rodgers come out of the game at any point, but the Packers have to be prepared for such a possibility. To get Cobb some reps at quarterback in practice each week would just be oiling another dimension in an already dangerous offense.
He's been a wide receiver, kick returner, punt returner and even a running back. It's time for Randall Cobb to add "quarterback" to his job description.
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