Packers 2017 Recap: QB Brett Hundley
For teams without an entrenched starting quarterback, the backup is often the most popular guy in town. The potential of a new guy giving the offense new life is excellent fodder for Tweetstorms, talk radio speculation, and bloggers across the internet.
But that’s never been the case for the Packers in the Aaron Rodgers era. As long as Rodgers has been the quarterback in Green Bay, it’s been generally understood that the Packers were probably going to be in rough shape if he ever went down for a significant period of time.
In 2017, Brett Hundley showed us exactly how rough that could be.
- Appeared in 11 games with nine starts (623 snaps on offense)
- Completed 192 of 316 passes (60.8%) for 1,836 yards, nine touchdowns, and 12 interceptions
- Rushed for 270 yards and two touchdowns on 36 attempts (7.5 yards per carry)
- Caught one pass for 10 yards
Expectations going into the season: Moderate
Expectations were: Not Met
It’s hard to truly call Hundley’s season a disappointment since no one seriously hoped to see him play any meaningful time, but the lack of progress he showed, injury related or not, wasn’t what anyone hoped for, even Hundley. Still, there are plenty of reasons for optimism.
Analysis: Brett Hundley fails to save Packers’ season
Most of the positive press around Brett Hundley dates to his sparkling rookie preseason. Playing against deep backups and guys who didn’t belong in the NFL, Hundley lit up the scoreboard. But upon further review, even his best efforts may have been a mirage.
His four touchdown preseason performance against the Saints as a rookie featured Hundley throwing touchdowns four times on his first read, including one where a busted coverage let a receiver run unencumbered down the middle of the field, a pick play, and a simple route where a player in his third NFL training camp worked over a far less experienced player.
Three years later, forced into action by an injury to Aaron Rodgers, those first reads were open far less and Hundley never changed his game to compensate.
Time and again, Hundley failed to trust both his reads and his legs (his best weapon), choosing instead to roll endlessly back and to the right until he ran out of field before tossing the ball out of bounds.
Even slightly better play from Hundley throughout the balance of the season could have changed the game for the Packers. Twice again the Lions Hundley turned the ball over in the red zone. Three times against the Ravens he gifted his opponent the ball deep in Packers’ territory. Even exciting wins against the Browns and Buccaneers, better play throughout the game likely would have rendered overtime heroics unnecessary
Hundley wasn’t great or even good in 2017. That’s not up for debate. But for all this, one question remains: who’s to blame for Hundley’s failure?
The Packers lost the NFC North to a team on its second (even arguably third) option at quarterback, a player who’d been with their franchise for six months when he took over the starting job. The Eagles won a Super Bowl with a guy who wanted to retire from football two years ago because he thought he was no good. He, too, had only been with the team for a matter of months when he took over as the starter.
Yet the Packers could barely put up a respectable effort with a quarterback they had the opportunity to coach every day for three years. Say what you will about sunk costs (and I have), it sure doesn’t seem like the Packers managed their investment very well.
When Aaron Rodgers went down, the Packers didn’t need to replace him with another version of Aaron Rodgers. Try as he might to spin the narrative otherwise, it doesn’t seem like Mike McCarthy allowed Hundley to try to be anything other than the dime store version of Rodgers.
Hundley couldn’t be Rodgers, but maybe if he’d been molded to be the best version of himself rather than a passing imitation of a superstar, everyone involved would have been more successful.