After being largely responsible for Stefon Diggs’ 182 receiving yards against Minnesota and partially responsible for Marvin Jones’ 205 receiving yards against Detroit, Damarious Randall said his bye week was about relaxation, family time and “a lot of self-evaluations.”
And just what did the Green Bay Packers’ second-year cornerback see, with the high-powered New York Giants on the docket?
“I see a guy that was a little bit off his technique, a guy that was a little banged up,” Randall said on Monday. “But, you know, that’s part of the NFL and that’s part of being great and that’s part of me wanting to be great. I see a guy that’s going to bounce back, because I know myself. I’m just looking forward to the challenge this Sunday – a Sunday night, prime-time game against the Giants. They have a great, great receiver corps and a great quarterback. I’m looking forward to it. In this league, you’re only as good as your last game.”
Randall’s last two games haven’t been good. After a superb performance against Jacksonville Pro Bowler Allen Robinson in Week 1, Randall was off his game in the two games before the bye. With Sam Shields out with a concussion the past two games, the Packers needed Randall to stack successes. Instead, Randall failed to rise to the level of defensive stopper. Through Week 3, Jones was No. 1 in the NFL in receiving yards and Diggs was No. 2, and Green Bay was No. 28 in pass defense.
To his credit, Randall hasn’t lost a bit of his confidence. But he was humble enough to point the finger at himself.
“For the most part, our secondary is going to have some bounce-back weeks,” Randall said. “I know we’ve been struggling — me, in particular, has been struggling. The great thing about that, I’m not struggling because of the receivers. I’m struggling because of myself. I know I’m going to bounce back. That’s really the best part about the bye week – to know that it’s me. If it was the other way around, then I’d be in trouble. If I was doing everything perfectly great and was still getting passes caught on me, that’s when I’d be worried and probably thinking my name might be coming down (from above his locker) soon.”
Randall said he injured his thumb during the first quarter of the Minnesota game. As a cornerback who likes to play press-man coverage, a bad thumb is a bad deal. Randall, however, wasn’t simply making excuses to explain away his play. He looked inward, too, sounding every bit like a 24-year-old, second-year player.
“Maybe I’ve just got to focus more,” he said. “Maybe I’ve just got to put in more work in the film room. Even when we’re facing guys that aren’t Pro Bowl-caliber receivers, just maybe if I take each and every guy more and more like they’re talented receivers, just like every receiver in the league is talented. One week, I have a great week against a Pro Bowl receiver and then the next week I didn’t have a great game against the Vikings or a very great game against the Lions. That just goes to show that every receiver at any given time can catch a pass on you and any receiver can make plays. We’re in a passing league, and that’s why corners get paid a lot of money.”
The Packers are going to need Randall to be a money player this week and most weeks. This week, it’s Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. Matt Ryan, Andrew Luck, Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson, Sam Bradford and Matthew Stafford are other proven quarterbacks on the schedule. No matter the power of their run defense, the Packers’ defensive fate will rest on the play of their secondary.
Randall expects to be ready for those many challenges.
“Honestly, I’m going to make a lot of plays this year,” he said. “I’m going to give up a couple plays but, for the most part, everything is going to start sinking in sooner than later. And that’s the great thing about the coaching staff and this organization, because everybody knows how good I am. And, obviously, I know how good that I can be whenever I’m at the top of my game. Just kind of looking forward to that this Sunday and for the rest of the season.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.