Jared Cook’s fumble cost the Green Bay Packers whatever feeble hope for a comeback that they had on Sunday night at Washington. Nonetheless, with just that one game, Cook showed that he needs to be part of the long-term solution for what’s been a mediocre offense throughout the season.
Cook caught six passes for 105 yards and one touchdown in the loss to the Redskins. Other than the Richard Rodgers “Hail Mary” game at Detroit last year, it was the Packers’ first 100-yard game by a tight end since Jermichael Finley did it in back-to-back weeks in 2010.
“Jared was good tonight,” said quarterback Aaron Rodgers, whose 8.56 yards per attempt was his best since last year’s Week 6 shootout vs. San Diego. “He made some plays for us. He’s a tough matchup. We put him in good spots to be successful. Split him out on his own side and made some plays. Did a good job on the over-the-shoulder catch on the corner route on third down. He’s just getting going. It’s good to see him healthy and he was a big contributor for us today.”
It wasn’t just Cook. For the first time all season — and, really, the first time since the 2014 season — the Packers showed an explosive element on offense. Cook had gains of 47 and 29 yards in the third quarter. Moreover — and more importantly — the Packers had five receiving plays of longer than 25 yards on the night. That’s their season high after having only 12 in the first nine games.
“Big plays,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “Had some good matchup opportunities with Jared and he cashed in. I thought single cuts on the back side and the matchups, particularly the big plays on third down, did a great job. But he has to take care of the football in the fourth quarter.”
As this season have overwhelmingly demonstrated, the Packers are a team so flawed that not even Rodgers can come to the rescue. He’s thrown 12 touchdowns vs. three interceptions during the four-game losing streak. Throw in a rushing touchdown and throw out and end-of-half Hail Mary at Tennessee, and Rodgers has accounted for 13 touchdowns with only two interceptions during that span. And it hasn’t done the team a bit of good.
Looking ahead, the Packers need an infusion of speed on the offensive and defensive perimeters. Their most glaring need is to add a cornerback or two after ignoring that position. They badly need another impact front-seven defender and an every-down running back. Depending on what happens with T.J. Lang in free agency, they could need an instant starter at guard.
Keeping Cook, who signed only a one-year free-agent deal, would allow Ted Thompson — or whoever the general manager is going to be — to focus on those needs.
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.