How Randall Cobb makes Aaron Rodgers better
ProCoach.Network is a group of Coaches experienced in the NFL who provide expert analysis and training for players and coaches of all levels. This article was written by Bob Bratkowski in conjunction with the ProCoach.Network.
Wide receiver Randall Cobb is one of the most gifted athletes in the NFL. His combination of speed, transition, and burst make him a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. Having said that, he benefits from a system that puts him in great situations; he also has a quarterback with a quick, strong, and accurate arm in Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has the ability to keep a play alive with his legs, like very few who play the game today. Even though Cobb plays in this system and with an elite quarterback, this in no way diminishes his skill set.
After reviewing all of Cobb’s targets from the 2014 season, we at ProCoach.Network were able to group his biggest strengths into three categories: 1.) body language and setup, 2.) broken play/scramble play production and 3.) quarterback-friendly angles.
Cobb has two different aspects to his body language technique: “neutral” (running straight with no indication of where he’s going to break) and the use of his shoulders and eyes as he goes on an angle opposite of the direction he’s going to break. These two skills place the defender in a poor position that often results in a chase and recovery mode. While analyzing these plays, it’s very important to watch Cobb’s eyes, shoulders, and body language the first time, and then the reaction of the defender the second time through.
Cobb’s broken play/scramble play production has set him apart from most other receivers in the league. He and Rodgers have the trust and a knack for creating a big play when Rodgers is forced to scramble. As mentioned earlier, Rodgers deserves much of the credit, as he is extremely athletic and accurate on the move. Cobb, however, has the unique ability to find the uncovered area anywhere on the field, create a passing lane, and a friendly angle for Rodgers to trust.
Once Rodgers gets the ball in Cobb’s hands, his elite speed and elusiveness make him nearly impossible to bring down in the open field. This connection between quarterback and receiver will continue to grow as the duo has entered only their fifth year of playing together. Pro Football Focus found that Cobb is number one in the NFL for receptions on scramble plays, and number three in the league in receiving yards off the scramble. Rodgers is number two in the NFL in scramble pass attempts, and number three in the NFL in yards gained on pass attempts when scrambling.
Creating quarterback-friendly angles is one of Cobb’s special attributes. He consistently puts his body in a position that will not allow a defender to undercut the pass. This is a quarterback’s best friend, and a big reason why Cobb was targeted over 140 times in 2014. While analyzing his route running, it’s picturesque how sharp he makes his cuts, and the discipline he shows by continually working downhill back to the quarterback. Rodgers hasn’t thrown more than nine interceptions in a season since Randall Cobb was drafted by the Packers in 2011. In 2014, Rodgers threw just seven interceptions, the fewest of any quarterback in the NFL with at least 500 pass attempts. Of those seven interceptions, only two were on Cobb targets. Cobb simply does not allow a defender to get between him and the ball. This is a major contributor to Rodger’s incredibly low interception numbers.
Following a comprehensive review of Cobb’s 2014 season, ProCoach.Network found virtually no flaws in the young player’s game. He combines his athletic prowess with an extensive repertoire of route-running tools, which has put him in the top tier of wide receivers in the NFL. His body language and setup, broken play/scramble play production, and ability to create quarterback friendly angles are a major factor in Rodgers’ elite touchdown to interception ratio. As the Rodgers-Cobb duo are both locked up contractually for the long-term with the Packers, we at ProCoach.Network fully expect them to continue building their trust and their numbers to be among the very best in the league for years to come.