Before we get into breaking down Brett Hundley’s season, let’s take a step back for a minute. As Packer fans, since Don Majkowski went down (and even he wasn’t really that bad, adjusted for the passing game-resistant era he played in), we’ve had it really good when it comes to quarterback play. Unbelievably good. Even fans in their mid-30s have been spoiled by not just good, not just great, but Hall of Fame-level quarterback play. So before you read on and get hot and bothered by Brett Hundley all over again, promise yourself that before you go to bed tonight, you will kneel beside your bed and thank the God of Quarterbacks that you’ve had it as good as you have. We good now? Good.
Brett Hundley was, simply, placed in an impossible situation. He was tasked with replacing the single most irreplaceable player in professional football, maybe all of sports. Maybe in any line of work. For better or worse, the entire Green Bay Packers organization for the last decade has been built around the assumption that Aaron Rodgers will be healthy.
As for Hundley, though, the relative simplicity of the situation made for a complex evaluation.
Watching Brett Hundley this past season was an exercise in observing a professional athlete try to figure it out on the fly. You could practically see him (over)thinking while the play developed (or didn’t develop) around him. And the biggest mistake a professional athlete can do in the heat of competition is think too much. By the time a player reaches the pros, any time spent thinking about what’s happening is time lost making something happen.
When it came time for Hundley to run the two-minute offense, he thought about things less. It was tangible. He was less concerned about making the exact right play as much as he was making any play. Maybe the coaches did him no favors by not running a hurried-up offense more often. That might have protected Hundley from himself. Maybe if uptick in production during that time was due in part to a defense playing a prevent and allowing more offense to happen. Maybe it was a combination of all those things – and more.
This past season, Green Bay Packer fans experienced the sour taste of depending on an average-to-bad quarterback. The easy stance would be to get totally and stubbornly down on Hundley. The hard thing would be to stay positive and realize Hundley is still developing. He’s been immensely impressive at times during the preseason, for whatever that’s worth. And he’s still only attempted 326 professional, regular season passes. He’s undeniably dug himself into a hole as far as any career-to-this-point evaluation is concerned. But he’s also demonstrated just enough that at this point he deserves to be on a professional roster. At this point, his top-end value is somewhere in the neighborhood of high-end backup.
Statistically, to say Hundley’s season was pedestrian would probably be overly complimentary. He was 192-316 (60.8%) on passing attempts resulting in 1,836 yards. That meager 5.8 yards per attempt is probably the most damning stat of Hundley’s performance. Even more so than his nine touchdowns against 12 interceptions.
The Packers just could not push the ball downfield with Hundley under center, and that cratered the entire offense as defenses waltzed closer and closer to the line of scrimmage. Hundley’s best attribute in putting pressure on the defense was his legs. On 36 rushing attempts, he gained a more-than-respectable 270 yards (a 7.5 yard average) and two scores.
A lot of people are probably totally out on Hundley. If the Packers want to bring in another backup, there wouldn’t be much resistance. But even in that scenario, where do you draw the line? Surely the Packers shouldn’t invest too high a draft pick in a backup. And if they wait til the later rounds, Green Bay is essentially starting over with another Brett Hundley.
If securing a free agent backup is on the table, cool. But there’s probably not a real long line of backup QBs wanting to come into a situation where there’s no circumstance in which they can compete for a starting gig.
All the signs for lowered expectations were in place before Hundley took over. But as Packer fans, our expectations for our quarterback justifiably are resistant to being lowered. Hundley was never on an active gameday roster as a rookie. In his second year, the Packers kept three quarterbacks to keep a competition for backup open. In his third season, Hundley was thrust into the spotlight for nine starts, and slowly got better over that span. But it just wasn’t enough to meet anybody’s expectations.