Packers 2018 Recap: Quarterbacks
The Packers were more than just Aaron Rodgers at quarterback in 2018. For the second consecutive season, the Packers’ backup situation was precarious — and it showed.
From the moment the Packers traded Damarious Randall for DeShone Kizer, uncertainty reigned at the position, and that didn’t change after Brett Hundley was traded. Even with the talented-but-raw Tim Boyle on the roster, the Packers had plenty of questions behind Aaron Rodgers. Unless Brian Gutekunst takes steps to improve the position group, it’s hard to see faith in the Packers’ quarterbacks outside Aaron Rodgers being well placed.
20 of 42 passing for 187 yards, 2 interceptions
5 carries for 39 yards
Expectations coming into the season: Moderate
Expectations were: Not Met
Analysis: Kizer proves no early returns on Randall trade
Kizer’s 2018 roster spot was all but guaranteed when the Packers traded former first-round pick Damarious Randall to Cleveland for Kizer and draft considerations. That was good for Kizer since he didn’t do much to hold off Brett Hundley in their preseason position battle.
Hundley’s passer rating was higher than Kizer’s in two of the three preseason games in which they were on the roster together. In the one exception, Kizer’s stat line was bolstered considerably by an 82-yard catch-and-run by Jake Kumerow.
Performance notwithstanding, the Packers stuck with Kizer, and they got the chance early on to see the fruits of that decision. After Aaron Rodgers’ knee injury in Week 1, Kizer got an unexpected extended look. The results were not good, as Kizer gift-wrapped the Bears two turnovers, including a near-back breaking interception that was returned for a touchdown just before halftime.
But Hundley wasn’t any better in an extended opportunity in 2017. And given Kizer’s stronger arm and comparable athleticism, keeping him over Hundley was at least a defensible decision. The move may not have worked out in 2018, but Kizer at least merits another look this offseason.
No stats in 2018
Expectations coming into the season: Low
Expectations were: Met
Analysis: Boyle succeeds in earning a roster spot
The bar for an undrafted free agent, even a quarterback, is always a little on the low side. But Boyle would likely have met expectations even if they’d been higher — had he been given a chance.
Given the resources the Packers had invested in Hundley and Kizer, Boyle was behind the eight ball in terms of playing time during the 2018 preseason. He only managed seven passing attempts in the Packers’ season preseason game and didn’t play at all in the third. It was only after Hundley was traded that Boyle got extended playing time.
But when he did play, Boyle showed physical abilities that merit further exploration. Kizer’s arm strength was notably greater than Hundley’s, but Boyle’s might be greater still, as evidenced by regular deep shots whenever he got the chance. Given the chance, it’s not hard to think he might have been at least as good as Kizer in relief of Rodgers.
For all the hand-wringing over Kizer vs. Hundley, perhaps Boyle was the answer all along. He’ll get a chance to show what he can do in 2019.
No stats in 2018 (with Seattle)
Analysis: Hundley a footnote in 2018 and 2019
Brett Hundley wasn’t a part of the Packers for the 2018 season. But he wasn’t entirely out of the picture, either. Two questions lingered behind him in Green Bay: would he have been better than DeShone Kizer? And what will the Packers do with the draft pick they got in exchange for Hundley?
Given what we saw from Hundley in 2017, it’s hard to think he’d have been significantly better than Kizer was in the only meaningful action from a backup quarterback in 2018. And considering how the Packers’ 2018 season played out, it would hardly have mattered anyway. So what if he’d have been worse than Kizer?
The big question, then, is what the Packers do with what they got in return for Hundley. Brian Gutekunst dealt Hundley to the Seattle Seahawks for a sixth-round pick (a generous haul for an underwhelming player). Though the exact number of the pick is unknown since compensatory picks haven’t been awarded yet, the same draft slot ended up being pick 196 last year. That could be slightly different in 2019 if there are more compensatory picks awarded in rounds three through five.
For an idea of the kind of talent on the board in that neighborhood, the Packers took Equanimeous St. Brown with the 207th pick in 2018, Kofi Amichia with the 212th pick in 2017, and Kyle Murphy with the 200th pick in 2016. Fullback Dan Vitale was the 196th pick in 2016.