Is Randall Cobb Back?

The Randall Cobb renaissance has been a pleasant surprise to the start of the 2017 season.

Cobb, oft-maligned and still just 27-years old, has been targeted with 22 passes to start the season, more than any other receiver on the Packers. He’s turned those targets into 15 catches for 145 yards, both deceptively low numbers considering what bordered on a personal vendetta against Cobb by referee Walt Anderson in Atlanta.

Anderson’s crew twice flagged the Packers for offensive pass interference on what would have been big plays by Cobb: one a beautifully designed (and extremely legal) 36-yard catch and run, the other a three yard touchdown.

Notwithstanding those statistical holes in his resume, Cobb has been a much bigger part of the offense than we’ve seen in recent times.

Or has he?

Cobb is still capable of big numbers

The evidence shows that Cobb’s role isn’t all that much bigger than it’s been at times over the last couple seasons, but his overall impact may still be diminishing.

According to Pro Football Reference, Cobb has had streaks similar to what we’ve seen so far this year in every season dating back to 2012. In each of those campaigns, he’s had a run of at least two games where he’s been targeted with nine or more passes.

Just last season, Cobb produced a three game streak where he was targeted 11, 11, and 15 times respectively during Weeks 4 through 7. Those performances accounted for 37 of his total 84 targets for the whole season.

Things went downhill from there, though: Cobb only played in seven of the remaining ten regular season games and was only targeted more than six times twice.

Will high target numbers continue?

Cobb’s 2016 season stands in stark contrast to the year prior, where even outside of his notable streaks Cobb was targeted with six or more passes eight times. 2014 was even better: Cobb was targeted at least six times in 12 of the Packers’ 16 regular season games.

Therein lies the rub for Cobb’s entire situation: he can still produce when called upon, but he doesn’t get called upon as consistently.

That’s due in large part to Davante Adams, whose emergence as a competent receiver opposite Jordy Nelson directly impacts the amount of balls that head Cobb’s way.

The question, then, is whether or not Cobb will continue to get a high volume of targets. The answer, though, is elusive.

In the short term, there’s a good chance Cobb will continue to get plenty of opportunities. Jordy Nelson’s status for Sunday is in doubt, and even if he returns, it’s fair to assume he’ll be somewhat limited. Nelson won’t be limited forever, but while he is Cobb can continue to play a big part in the offense.

However, it’s also likely that Martellus Bennett’s issues with drops won’t be a permanent thing and his role in the offense is likely to continue to grow. If that trend continues, it’s worth wondering if Cobb’s numbers will hold.

In any case, Cobb has shown that he can still be a capable producer when called upon, and if he keeps producing early in the season, perhaps his numbers won’t wane quite as severely as last year.