Week 6 Recap - Rodgers, Packers Fall in Minnesota
Sometimes, it's hard to determine where a season changes irrevocably.
Others, not so much.
It's no mystery where the 2017 Packers season falls. When Anthony Barr fell hard on top of Aaron Rodgers midway through the first quarter, everything about this year changed, and the evidence was immediately apparent.
Gone was the high powered, adaptive offense manipulated by the league's greatest quarterback. Instead we saw curl routes, five yard outs, and a lot of quarterback hits initiated by a signal caller unprepared for one of the league's most creative defenses.
Of course, very little of this is Brett Hundley's fault. Why would the Packers have tried to prep Hundley for a test like this? It calls to mind a story from the Indianapolis Colts during the Peyton Manning era. In short, if you've got an all-time great quarterback, why would you bother practicing a situation where you have to bank on someone other than your all-time great guy?
Now, though, the Packers will have to move on without their quarterback of choice, and heading into the stretch run of their schedule, it'll be time to see if Mike McCarthy really can be the highly successful NFL coach he declared himself to be.
Four and Out
1 - Brett Hundley found himself in perhaps the worst situation any backup could imagine, and somehow it got worse. Hundley had to come into the game for a third and long play after the injury to Rodgers, and from then on you could practically see Mike Zimmer licking his chops. He teed off on Hundley on just about every third down for the rest of the game. Zimmer is well known as a defensive mastermind, and he threw everything he had at Hundley. On top of that, the Packers lost three fifths of their starting offensive line to injury, leaving their backup quarterback with little to no protection. It's hard to fault Hundley for not getting much going on offense.
2 - The Packers may be forced to sign a quarterback. Gary already broached the possibility of one very, uh, notable free agent quarterback joining the Packers, but more broadly speaking, it almost seems like the Packers have to sign someone. This isn't an indictment of Hundley, either, but rather the depth behind him. Currently, the Packers have just one other quarterback in the organization, which would be second year practice squad player Joe Callahan. If the Packers still fancy themselves a Super Bowl contender (and they should), can they really go into a game with just Callahan behind Hundley?
3 - Dom Capers really tried to lend Brett Hundley a hand. He sent everything he had after Case Keenum, pummeling the Vikings' quarterback with blitz after blitz after blitz. It nearly worked, too. Pressure forced Keenum into one interception and the Packers were very close to several others. Unfortunately, "close" doesn't count for much with pressure, and the Vikings ultimately prevailed thanks to several very timely throws where Keenum stood strong in the face of intense heat from the Packers' defense.
4 - Officiating was terrible start to finish. I think the call/no-call argument on Anthony Barr's hit on Aaron Rodgers could go either way, so let's not even touch that one. But even beyond that, there were multiple blown calls that affected both teams in this game. The most notable one from the Packers' perspective happened with just more than 11 minutes to go in the third quarter, when Vikings' pass clearly hit the ground. The pass was not only called complete, but the Vikings went on to score points on that drive as a result. (This play also led to a very embarrassing exchange in the booth when not one, but two broadcasters didn't realize that the Packers were not out of challenges.) But beyond the missed calls, the officiating crew simply did not seem to be in control of the game. Penalties (of which there were 15, including 13 in the first half) took far too long to explain, and the subsequent punishments took far too long to carry out. Worst of all was the near brawl that broke out after Laquan Treadwell's crackback hit on Lenzy Pipkins. All-in-all, it was an embarrassing day for the officials.