How Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb became the NFL’s best Pass Catching Duo

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For some time now, I’ve been wanting to write this very post that I am writing right now. I was expecting to write this nearly a year ago, then Randall Cobb broke his fibula in Baltimore Week 6 in 2013, delaying it a year.

But now the time is right, after Sunday night’s surgical performance of the Chicago Bears, 55-14, Cobb and Nelson combined for 10 receptions, 224 yards and 3 touchdowns. But before that, here is my final word on the Bears for a very long time.

My father was born in Wausau, Wisconsin, about an hour and a half Northwest of Green Bay. After meeting, my parents decided to live in the Chicago suburbs, where I would be later born.

My father told me at a very young age, something along the lines of this. “Son, you can grow up and be and do anything you want. Play whatever sport you want, pursue anything you put your mind to. But you will do two things: 1) You will be a fan of the Green Bay Packers and 2) You will never root for the Chicago Bears.”

Now, it’s not like he forced it upon me by any means, it’s just that I would have been sleeping outside in my backyard for the majority of my childhood. Plus, it wasn’t a very difficult “rule” to follow, I was enamored with Brett Favre from the very moment I started paying attention to the NFL. Al Harris’ Pick-6 in OT in the 2003-2004 NFC Divisional round against the Seattle Seahawks (While my father and I were scrambling from room-to-room in our house trying make any TV work because the cable was down) is one of the greatest moments of my life.

Throw in 2010-2011 Super Bowl run, Aaron Rodgers and the multiple road trips my father and I took to see Packers games are all reasons why I was a Packer fan growing up in the Chicagoland area.

Last night’s victory completely solidified the fact that there is no need to trash talk Bears fans for a very, very long time.

After years of arguing about nonsense, I’m officially retiring from it all. And if it ever comes up again, I have the NFC Championship game, last season’s Week 16 victory and now 55-14 in my back pocket. It was fun while it lasted Bears fans, here is to another five years with Jay Cutler. At least there is always ’85.

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Now that this is off my shoulders, onto the most underrated duo in the NFL. Largely overshadowed by Calvin Johnson in Detroit, and Marshall and Jeffrey in Chicago, Nelson and Cobb have been one of the best producing tandems in the league since 2011.

You could say that this may be a biased post obviously in favor of Nelson and Cobb, but the numbers have never lied and since 2011, Cobb and Nelson have been statistically the best. Here they are together out of a possible 57 Games (Including this past week) :

Jordy Nelson: 53 G, 253 rec. 4,211 yards and 38 TD’s

Randall Cobb: 45 G 180 rec. 2,412 yards and 23 TD’s 

The only relevant duo’s that have been playing as long as Cobb and Nelson have are Roddy White and Julio Jones of Atlanta, and Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall from Chicago and it is clear that Nelson and Cobb have been far less talked about than these two duo’s that have received plenty of recognition.

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Chicago Bears: (Since 2012)

Brandon Marshall: 41 G, 260 rec.  3,299 yards and 29 TD’s 

Alshon Jeffrey: 35 G, 157 rec. 2,414 yards and 13 TD’s 

Atlanta Falcons: (Since 2011)

Julio Jones: 43 G,  235 rec. 3,590 yards and 23 TD’s 

Roddy White: 53 G 294 rec. 3,849 yards and 22 TD’s 

While I should make it clear that Marshall and Jeffrey have one less year under their belt together, their numbers are still comparable. For the past couple of years now, there was plenty of talk about those two being the best pass catchers around and rightfully so they were last year. 

But one great season does not justify themselves compared to the consistency of Nelson and Cobb for the past four seasons, in which they have relatively (Cobb breaking his leg kept him out for the majority of the season in ’13) been able to put up Top-3 receiving numbers. If you take a look at the numbers in 2014 so far, Nelson and Cobb continue to ascend compared to the rest of the leagues best tandems:

Green Bay Packers:

Nelson: 56 rec. 889 yards and 8 TD’s

Cobb: 44 rec. 650 yards and 10 TD’s (leads WR’s) 

Chicago Bears:

Marshall: 42 rec. 496 yards and 6 TD’s

Jeffrey: 44 rec. 626 yards and 3 TD’s

Atlanta Falcons: 

Jones: 61 rec. 853 yards and 3 TD’s

White: 39 rec. 491 yards and 4 TD’s

Denver Broncos 

Demaryius Thomas: 65 rec. 1,002 yards and 6 TD’s 

Julius Thomas: 38 rec. 423 yards and 12 TD’s (Leads all “Pass Catchers” J. Thomas is a categorical TE who plays WR) 

Washington Football team

Pierre Garcon: 42 rec. 458 yards and 3 TD’s 

Desean Jackson: 35 rec. 784 yards and 4 TD’s 

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Now that I’ve thrown probably too many numbers at you to get what I’m trying to prove, statistically and arguably, Nelson and Cobb are the most productive pass catchers across the board, and they equally carry their own weight. 

And while the numbers have their own say, the Pack’s WR’s impact the game in so many different ways on offense.

Of the mentioned duo’s above, none complement one another as well as Nelson and Cobb. Jordy is a true outside the numbers receiver. With underrated “game speed” he doesn’t seem all that fast, but don’t tell that to the corners running behind him on the 70-yard touchdowns he continues to rack up.

He sets himself up for those 50-plus touchdowns because he quite possibly is the best route runner in the NFL with the best hands. Sure, Calvin Johnson’s touchdowns when he is jumping over four guys to catch a forced Mathew Stafford ball make the highlight reel, but Nelson’s incredible knack for always getting open makes it far easier for his Quarterback that doesn’t need much of a window to begin with. This in turn, creates less throws fired into tight windows and the numbers agree. Since 2011, Stafford has thrown 60 INT’s, compared to Rodgers’ 23.

Meanwhile, Randall Cobb has quietly established himself has one best slot-receivers in the NFL. Since 2011 (his Rookie season) Cobb has ascended into a Top-10 receiver overall and his role in the Packers offense has become invaluable, a long way from when he was the #5 receiver on the depth chart (Behind Driver, Jennings, Jones and Nelson).

For being such a little guy (5’10”, 192 lb.) Cobb can beat opponents across the middle for a gain of 10, and then turn out a 60-yard touchdown the next play. His big play ability is extremely underrated for a slot guy, with already ten catches of 20 yards or more this season, a fourth of his total amount of receptions.

With Nelson normally demanding a corner and Safety protection over the top, Cobb benefits by being able to blow past Nickel cornerbacks across the middle for big plays. Above all else, Cobb is a nightmare to take down with his ability to make defenders miss and scores in the red zone better than anyone else his size in the NFL.

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Sunday night’s game from Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb was another day at the office for many who follow the Packers, with week 10’s performance being the 4th time the Packer’s duo have combined for over 200 yards receiving this season. With it being Cobb’s contract year and Nelson already locked up for the next four, it would behoove GM Ted Thompson and the Packers to keep intact one of (if not the ) best and most productive receiving pair in the NFL.

Oh and before I forget, it would be naive to not mention that the guy (in the middle) that throws Nelson and Cobb the football, he’s pretty darn good too.

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-Goat

Stats courtesy of NFL.com and ESPN Stats & Info. 

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