Week 1 of the Hundley Era:
The inaugural game of the Hundley era certainly came with its ups and downs. The first half was a back and forth affair that saw the Packers get out of the gates quickly with a 46-yard touchdown scamper by Aaron Jones. The Packers defense showed a bend but don’t break style of defense, by intercepting two Drew Brees passes that were headed for the red zone and the end zone. These timely defensive plays coupled with a well called first half game plan and tremendous first half rushing performances by Brett Hundley and Aaron Jones staked the Packers to a 14-7 halftime lead. Unfortunately, all of this positive first half fortune and goodwill would quickly evaporate when the Saints buckled down and started playing fundamentally sound football in the second half.
The Saints kicked the Packers in the mouth in the second half. They dominated the point of attack, (which I feel like I say every single week) took care of the football and moved the ball down the field with ease. The Saints offense in the second half scored 19 points, dominated the time of possession (yet again), and was not forced to punt one time. This outstanding second half Saints turn around gave them a 26-17 victory at Lambeau Field and handed the Packers their first home loss since the Indianapolis game in early November last year.
McCarthy admitted after the game that the second half performance was one of the worst that he has been a part of during his tenure in Green Bay. He said that he needed to coach better and the team needed to be better prepared to execute in all three phases of the game. (Obviously! Mac tell us something that we do not already know.)
I feel like we have been talking about dominating the point of attack, executing plays, and focusing on fundamentals in the correction videos since the first week of training camp. All of this talk seems to have fallen on deaf ears. The reality is, that, this team has been dominated at the point of attack for much of this season, and executing fundamental elements of the game on defense and special teams seems to be the exception and not the norm.
Breaking Bad ☠️
This stretch of games without their once in a lifetime, hall of fame quarterback is going to continue to expose the many deficiencies that this Packers team possesses. We will continue to see drive killing penalties and dropped passes by the offense (cough, cough, Martellus Bennett), missed tackles, blown coverages by the defense, (cough, cough Ha Ha Clinton-Dix), and an endless array of block in the back, holding penalties, and punts fielded inside the 5 yard line, by our always less than stellar special teams play.
The problem with this assessment of the Green Bay Packers is that I can literally copy and paste it to almost every season during the Aaron Rodgers era. How many times have we heard, “man, imagine how many super bowls the Packers could win if Rodgers had a defense around him”? (Answer: 1, the Superbowl 45 defense was one of, if not the best defenses during the Rodgers era). With each passing year, we are forced to bear witness to the same “Packer Problems”.
For those of you keeping up with my glossary of Packer vocabulary, we are about to add another word, you guessed it, “Packer Problems”. According to Webster’s dictionary, “Packer Problems”, are problems with the team or organization, that linger, and are never fully addressed. “Packer problems” and “Packer luck” can sometimes go hand in hand but are not synonymous with each other. “Packer Problems” are always exposed when the team is vulnerable because of an injury or because the offense is playing poorly. Whatever the case may be, “Packer Problems” are magnified when Aaron Rodgers is out of action or, in a slump. The challenge still remains unanswered, can the Green Bay Packers rally around Brett Hundley?
Ways to overcome the “Packer Problems” and rally around Brett:
1. Stay committed to the Run:
When Aaron Jones runs for 131 yards on only 17 carries, it is clear that he has earned the opportunity at more touches. In order to adequately protect Brett Hundley and expose him as little as possible, Jones must carry the ball 25-30 times and have 5-7 targets in the pass and screen game.
2. Incorporate more read-option running plays with Hundley and Jones:
Hundley in his press conference yesterday, acknowledged that McCarthy and he discussed being mobile out of the pocket and utilizing his running ability at the quarterback position. Hundley did run the ball during his days at UCLA, and adding an extra wrinkle in the Packers offense would certainly keep defenses honest and force them to use different packages to account for Hundley’s versatility.
3. Incorporate more quick and safe pass options:
The Packers would be wise to incorporate many two tight end looks to give Hundley bigger and safer targets early on in games and allow his confidence to grow by accumulating safe completions. From there, the Packers should work the screen game using both, their running backs as well as their wide receivers to provide safe targets and quick outlets for Hundley. Look for these quick outlet passes to allow receivers to get out in space and break tackles, allowing for more realistically sustainable drives.
4. The defense must turn from a “Packer Problem” to a “Packer Strength”:
In order for the Packers to continue their stretch of consecutive playoff seasons the defense must turn from a “Packer Problem” to a “Packer Strength”. This defense must become stouter against the run, attack the opposing quarterback, finish sacks, and get off of the field on third downs.
5. Apply the Fundamental Principles of Football:
The Packers have zero margins for error and must play mistake-free football in all three facets of the game. Penalties, dropped passes, and missed tackles must be eliminated, and the team must be more aggressive at the point of attack on both sides of the football.
Looking ahead to Detroit:
The bye week could not have come at a better time. Players will continue to get healthier and stronger, the coaching staff can have ample time correcting poor fundamentals, and Brett Hundley and the first team offense can become more familiar with one another’s tendencies. I look for a more complete effort against Detroit and see this game as a statement game for what we can expect during the duration of the Rodgers injury.——————
David Michalski is a recent college graduate from Princeton New Jersey who has been a life long Green Bay Packers fan. Like the great Vince Lombardi, he values God, family, and the Green Bay Packers in that order. You can follow him on twitter at @kilbas27dave