Taking A Page From The Packers Playbook

Mark D. Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Mike Yurcich can look at what the Green Bay Packers have done with their jack-of-all-trades playmaker for guidance on how to spark the Pokes running game.

The Green Bay Packers are one of the most progressive teams in the National Football League. Ever since Aaron Rodgers took control of the franchise, they've adapted a spread offense and put together the best personnel set in the league for such a scheme (sorry, Peyton). One of the newest wrinkles they've been sliding into their gameplan here and there each week is lining up jack-of-all-trades Randall Cobb all over the field, including in the backfield (I started writing this before he got hurt; hopefully I didn't curse him).

Cobb may be listed as a wide receiver, but he's more like those recruits that come out of high school with no position; he's an ATH (I always thought this meant around the horn, as in the player could play any position, but it appears to be athlete. You know what, I like mine better. Cobb is an around the horn player.).

For the first time in a few years Green Bay actually has a solid cast of actual running backs on the roster with James Starks, Eddie Lacy and James Franklin, but Cobb is still more elusive, electric and effective when he's given space to run.

Last Sunday against Detroit the Packers ran a few plays out of their "Cobb package" in which Cobb lined up with Rodgers in the backfield out of a pistol or shotgun alignment and acted as a running back.

Here was Cobb's - and Green Bay's, I might add - first big play of the day.

Cobbbigrun1_medium

This is a simple delay handoff with the line firing off to the left and the center pulling to take out the weakside linebacker (DeAndre Levy). It's a well designed and executed play that gets their best playmaker a clear lane out of the backfield and a ton of room to run in the second level.

Cobbpitch_medium

Here the Packers run a toss play out of what I call the Pistol Bishop formation, with all of their blockers firing off diagonally in some direction. Because the Packers' passing offense forces the Lions to use nickel personnel, there's some space for Cobb to maneuver to the second level for a moderate gain.

Cobbpassoob_medium

The Packers also had Cobb run a couple of routes out of the backfield. Here they run what amounts to a quick screen out of the backfield with no linemen pulling but the wide receivers on the playside of the field firing off to block. Just another way to get their most dynamic player the ball quickly without resistance with some room to work.

Based on two of my most recent posts, I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this. I'm of the opinion that Josh Stewart needs more touches and everybody is of the opinion that the running game is in the lost and found closet at Boone Pickens Stadium somewhere. So one thing worth trying is putting Stewart in the backfield and trying to get him out into space without having to deal with route combinations, tilted coverages and Walsh's timing. Whether it's straight handoffs or some super quick passes, getting Stewart the ball becomes really easy if you line up in the backfield for a few plays.

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