How Brett Hundley Hurt the Packers' Defense
When your number one quarterback goes down, things are going to get ugly for your offense. That’s not a big surprise.
We've seen a couple exceptions, two of them were playing to go to the Superbowl in the NFC this past weekend, but by and large, when your top quarterback goes down, you're going to have problems, especially when it's somebody like Aaron Rodgers.
But what you might not anticipate is that Aaron Rodgers being on the sideline actually hurts the Packers defense in a little bit of an unusual way.
When Rodgers was on the field in 2017, opposing offenses started their drives on average at their own 26.6-yard line. On top of that, just four of 62 drives by opponents started in Packers’ territory.
That tells me three different things. First, the Packers are scoring a lot when Aaron Rodgers is on the field and teams are ending up with touchbacks and short kickoff returns after those drives.
Second, if Aaron Rodgers isn't leading the Packers to a score, he’s at least moving the ball down the field such that opposing teams get pinned deep when the Packers decide to punt.
Thirdly, Rodgers is not turning the ball over in Packers territory because, again, just four of those 62 opponent drives started in Packers territory. That’s just under 6.5% of all opponent drives.
Different quarterback, different story
With Brett Hundley under center, things are very, very different. With Brett Hundley or Joe Callahan at quarterback, teams started their drives on their own 32.2-yard line on average. That’s a difference of only about six yards, but when you start looking at how many points are produced from each different yard line on the field, that’s when things start to get interesting.
According to AdvancedFootballAnalytics.com, just that six-yard different increases the odds of a touchdown being scored on that drive by two to three percent. That may not seem like a lot, but when you average that out over about twelve drives a game (which is what a typical team gets) or 112 drives (the duration of Hundley’s time 's time as the starting quarterback), that tends to add up. That's putting your defense another six yards behind the eight ball every time the opposing offense steps onto the field. Those little things start to add up.
On top of that, with Brett Hundley as the quarterback for the Packers, opponents started their drives in Packers territory almost one out of five times they took the field. Out of 112 opponent drives, 18 started in Packers territory, nearly three times as often as with Rodgers at quarterback.
A poor offense makes the defense suffer
It makes me wonder how much different we would have looked at this defense if Aaron Rodgers had been out there for the entire season. I think you don't really have to look any further than the Baltimore Ravens game to see the practical effects of how having a bad quarterback made the Packers’ defense look bad.
If you just look at the box score, it looks like a blowout. The Packers lost 26-0, and it looks like one of the games where the opposing team is just probably just moving up and down the field at will. But not really, because the Ravens had the opportunity to start four drives inside the Packers’ 35-yard line. It was completely unfair to the defense. There wasn't really anything that they could as far as preventing them from scoring at that point. Once you're inside about the 35, it's more or less a guaranteed field goal. You’ve given up at least 12 points just on those four drives just because of where the opposing team gets to start on the field.
How do you really evaluate a defense in that situation? It's tough and, it just goes to show the far-reaching effects of Aaron Rodgers’ injury.
This post is an adapted from a transcript of this week's episode of Blue 58, a Packers podcast from The Power Sweep. Listen to the full episode below and subscribe to the show on iTunes.