Tha Sports Junkies 101

Recently Signed Jared Cook Looks To Lead Packers’ Tight End Revolution

Christina VanMeter via


Since Jermichael Finley had career ending neck surgery in 2013, the Packers have had little to cheer about out of the tight end position. They have had an offense that once targeted the tight end more than any team in the league. Now, they are near the bottom of the league in featuring one.

In Finley’s last three seasons (38 games), he accounted for 88 First Downs and 13 TD’s. All but one of those TDs coming in the redzone. If you compare that to the 39 games since Finley’s injury, Packers TE’s have only been apart of 63 First Downs and 10 TD’s. Finley also racked up 139 catches while the Packers TE’s since 2013 have only caught about 140 combined.

One of those tight ends was last years starter Richard Rodgers. While his 2015 total of 58 catches and 8 TDs may seem like a good number, he only accumulated 510 yards. This means he only had an average yards per catch of 8.8, the second lowest in the league. Also, his only catch longer than 40 yards was a game-winning Hail Mary TD versus the Lions.

Rodgers was a very good possession receiver, but it was obvious that the Packers needed a more Finley-like tight end with some speed. He did dedicate himself to fitness during the off-season and lost nearly 20 pounds. The difference was obvious on Friday, but he didn’t see much time after the first drive. However, last years struggles stuck with management and led to the signing of former Rams tight end Jared Cook.

Cook is considered a very explosive play-maker but was handcuffed by the inadequacy of the Rams quarterbacks in the last few years, because of this he was only able to reel in 38 passes last season. Although unlike Rodgers, Cook made the most of those plays. He averaged over 12 yards per reception.

Cook did experience a small setback during the off-season as he underwent foot surgery. He missed off-season OTA’s and most of training camp before returning this Tuesday to full practice. After only two days he made his debut Friday versus the Browns.

Fortunately for Cook ,who is still settling in with D-III standout and rookie QB Joe Callahan playing with the first team offense, there wasn’t going to be a lot of the playbook explored. This didn’t stop Cook from impressing during the short time he was in.

Callahan found Cook on a 3rd and 7 play heading toward the Browns sideline in which he was able to turn up field and gain 8. It was an example of the type of run and catch play that the Packers have been missing from the position.

He would also catch a 2 yard pass later in the 1st quarter and shortly after exit the game. It was a welcomed sight to see the 6’5, 250 pound frame of Cook create space and actually make tacklers miss, even if it was only for a few drives.

Cook and Rodgers are the main focus at the position, but in this game it was the play of Justin Perillo and Kennard Backman that stood out.

Perillo had limited playing time last year but always made the most of it. This game was no exception. His five receptions and 52 yards were a welcomed sight for everyone. On the first play of the Packers’ third series, Callahan saw Perillo break wide open into the middle for an 18-yard gain.

Later, Callahan hit Perillo for a pair of first downs,  a 9-yard completion on second and 8 and a 15-yard completion on 3rd and 7. The second coming during an impressive 2 minute drill led by Callahan heading into the half.

Perillo proved to be an important player for the success of the young QB and a reliable option moving forward. Backman, who caught three of the four passes he was targeted on for 28 yards also showed his worth.

One of the most important plays of the game came on a quick pass from Callahan to Backman that went for 18 yards. Callahan took a two step drop on what looked to be a draw play and found Backman over the middle with an unprepared defense on their heels. The play would go to the 5 yard line and lead to the game’s only touchdown.

Perillo and Backman will continue to fight for the third spot throughout preseason.

The Packers‘ tight ends accounted for 10 of the teams 22 catches for 90 yards on 13 targets in total on Friday night. They were also responsible for most of the positive plays in the passing game.

Slowly, it seems that what was one of last year’s biggest weaknesses is turning into a strength. With a healthy Jordy Nelson and a revamped Eddie Lacy coupled with this new crop of tight ends, led by Cook, the Packers offense seems to be poised to return to it’s place at the top of the league.