The early results of Brett Hundley’s time as the Green Bay Packers’ quarterback are in, and they’re not good.
After serving as the team’s primary back up for the past two years, Hundley received strong votes of confidence from both his teammates and his head coach. Mike McCarthy firmly stated that Hundley was his quarterback after the game against the Vikings, and took the blame for the loss against the Saints.
Much can (and has) been said about poor play-calling and a continuously bad defense that seemingly only Aaron Rodgers could overcome. But moving beyond those external factors, Hundley’s individual performance has left a lot to be desired through roughly two games of work. The Minnesota game could largely be attributed to being thrust into a role unexpectedly, but he didn’t look much better against New Orleans after a full week practicing with the starters.
Green Bay’s new starter has thrown for just one touchdown while tossing four interceptions over the last two weeks. He’s made poor throws to receivers and is still getting accustomed to making reads. But for someone who’s been in the system for three years, Hundley needs to improve if the Packers want to play meaningful football near the end of the year.
How bad has it been through two games for #7? Hundley ranks dead last in both yards per attempt (4.14) and quarterback rating (40.5) among quarterbacks with at least 50 pass attempts. His completion percentage of 52.5% ranks ahead of only the Browns’ DeShone Kizer, who fall just behind Hundley at 52%. There doesn’t appear to be any help on the way. So can Hundley help the Packers get on track?
It won’t be easy having so much inexperience at the game’s most important position, but there’s still a chance to turn around Green Bay’s fortunes from the past two weeks.
For starters, a Week 8 Bye should give Hundley plenty of time to fully adjust to the playbook and start developing chemistry with his receivers. The quarterback seems to have the dedication to improve and lead the team, and added practice reps will help a lot. The offensive line has also gotten healthier, an important point given Hundley will need longer to make reads than someone like Rodgers.
The Packers’ new quarterback also showed that he can be mobile, escape the pocket, and scramble when necessary. Those positives were on display against New Orleans, and could be valuable assets moving forward. Additionally, Green Bay does have a lot of talent at the receiver position. Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Davante Adams are all experienced receivers that should put Hundley in a place to succeed.
The running game will also be a major factor in determining the Packers’ success moving forward. Ty Montgomery continues to deal with his rib injury, but rookie Aaron Jones has exploded onto the scene as a legit threat out of the backfield. Jones has two 100-yard games over the past three weeks, and his 5.6 yards per carry rank third in the NFL behind just Kareem Hunt and Alex Collins.
Even though the Packers’ offense has playmakers, it still falls on Hundley to lead the unit and the Packers’ coaching staff to design plays that fit his strengths. The receivers cannot succeed if their passer struggles, and the running game won’t get going if opposing defenses don’t respect the pass.
If Hundley continues to struggle coming off the Bye week, that could very well point to a long rest of the season for Green Bay and its fans. The Packers will obviously miss the presence of one of the best players in the league, but Hundley has the personnel around him to play better than his first two games have indicated. It won’t be easy for Green Bay’s new starter, but the Packers’ season isn’t over just yet.——————
Sean Blashe is a Packers fan who grew up in Bears territory and is currently a journalism and history major at Marquette University. Sean is a writer with PackersTalk.com and you can follow him on twitter at @SeanBlashe .