For the Green Bay Packers, WR Amari Rodgers seemed to be a perfect fit when the NFC’s second-place team this past season took the Clemson product in the third round of this year’s draft. He fit the slot receiver role that needed to be filled last season, and he had a highly respected mentor within the Packers’ organization. Rodgers’ father, Tee Martin, had coached QB/WR Randall Cobb at the University of Kentucky, who later became one of the most successful receivers in Packers history.
Cobb, who left the organization in free agency after the 2018 season, was with the Houston Texans at the time of Rodgers’ selection. However, someone who should be a part of the big decisions in the Packers organization recently directed the team to bring back the slot receiver for what could be one last great season in Northern Wisconsin.
As reigning league MVP and Packers QB Aaron Rodgers arrived in Green Bay, it almost seemed like he walked right by the media, the coaching staff, and his teammates on his way to the Packers front office to express his desires for this season. Not only did he demand a contract where he gets most of the leverage, but he also wanted extra perks for being the longest-tenured Packer ever. One of these perks was to have a say on who is on the field with him, something that directly affects his job.
Green Bay heard Rodgers’ list of mistreated players from his first press conference back and snatched one of the few active players included in the list. That player happened to be Cobb, and he joined the team on the second day of training camp. Other players on the Rodgers’ rapsheet include a 2021 Hall of Fame inductee in CB Charles Woodson, a likely future Hall of Fame inductee in LB Julius Peppers, the Packers’ all-time sack leader in LB Clay Matthews, as well as others.
Although the story of Amari Rodgers being reunited with his childhood idol in Cobb is heartwarming, questions might lie around how the two will work together on the field, if that is even possible.
Green Bay hasn’t been the team to send out tons of wide receivers in a single play. Last season, Head Coach Matt LaFleur almost always kept at least one tight end and/or one running back in the game at all times. In fact, LaFleur used a 5-WR set (no RB/TE) only once last season, a pass that resulted in 9 yards. Even using four receivers isn’t natural for the young Packers coach, as there was one play consisting of 4 WRs and a TE, a pass attempt gaining 15 yards. On the flip side, a 4 WR/1 RB set totaled three plays last year: 2 rush attempts for no gain (-.5 yards/carry, possibly kneel-downs) and a pass attempt collecting 8 yards. He favors sets with 3 WR/1 RB/1 TE, and unless he chooses to leave that for more than 50% of his snaps (currently operates in 55% of team snaps), it seems like Cobb and Amari will be switching places every so often.
LaFleur was open when saying that the Cobb-Amari duo might let him get out of the box a bit more, mentioning that the more pieces he has, the better.
Last season, RB Tyler Ervin was used as a jet sweep/motion running back, coming in for nearly 14 percent of the total offensive snaps. Rodgers’ athleticism hints towards the same abilities Ervin possessed, providing him the opportunity to be used similarly this NFL season. Only Ervin and fellow WR Allen Lazard ran the jet sweep or motion route for the Packers, as no one else had the mixture of speed, acceleration, and agility to run the play and confuse the defense simultaneously. Even with an offense as unique as LaFleur’s, his plays only allow the jet sweep or motion to be run (as it was with Ervin or Lazard) a mere 194 plays, or 17% of all offensive plays. Not only does this provide the opportunity for the same motion to happen in the Packers’ offense, but other motions can be added based on what the rookie receiver might bring to the table.
Switching Cobb and Rodgers out or putting Cobb in a stationary role (like a traditional receiver) might make more sense considering that Cobb might not have the elusiveness to make the plays that Amari is expected to make. Cobb might have one or two more years of NFL-caliber play in him, and that might only be as a standard slot receiver. As much as Cobb brings to the table that the Packers didn’t have last year, Amari Rodgers appears to have what the veteran slot receiver has along with other abilities, giving the Packers more reason to use Amari at a higher rate than Cobb.
Looking at the two receivers, it is clear they bring more to the slot position than the Packers had a season ago. However, despite LaFleur’s desire to get more creative with his updated offense, his style of play proves the change of the offense will likely be minimal. With Randall Cobb’s career on hole 18, Cobb’s presence will probably affect the locker room more than the play on the field.
Personnel Grouping Statistics mentioned in this article can be found here.
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