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McCarthy Is the Key to Brett Hundley’s Performance

I apologize in advance for beating the same drum over and over, but I don’t see the media picking up on how greatly Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy’s confidence level in Brett Hundley is affecting the backup QB’s performance.

With the narrow win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the books, Hundley now has two good performances, one average, and four stinkers. Let’s not mince words, a passer rating of 60 or even 70 is a poor performance. In his four worse-than-poor games, Hundley’s ratings have been downright smelly: 39.6, 39.9, 43.6 – and now 48.3.

It’s hard to understate how atrocious these numbers are. As for 39.6, that is about the lowest number you can have under the NFL’s passer rating system. That’s right, a quarterback can throw incomplete 30 out of 30 tries, and he still gets a 39.6 rating. The only way to go lower is to throw some interceptions.

Thanks to his fine rating of 134.3 in the Pittsburgh loss, Hundley’s cumulative rating on the year is 70.6. But even using that figure, of the NFL’s 35 qualifying quarterbacks, the only ones below Brett are the 49ers’ C.J. Beathard (69.2) and the Browns’ DeShone Kizer (58.1). Kizer, who the Packers will meet in a few days, had an above-average game, for him, against the Chargers on Sunday: 15-of-32 for 215 yards, one TD and one interception, for a rating of 66.5.

If you think I’m trying to put Hundley down, you are wrong. Quite the contrary, his numbers are so low that there must be a reason other than Hundley is hopelessly incompetent.

The more a coach professes he has great confidence in a player, the more you can be assured he doesn’t. McCarthy has backed Hundley endlessly in his statements, but his actions show his trust is tenuous and fragile.

I started to make my case following the Steelers game that Hundley is at his best when Big Mike sends in creative and unpredictable play calls, and at his worst when the calls are predictable and conservative, and I should have added: non-field-stretching. This seventh Hundley game has provided additional evidence.

Sunday’s game was the final proof I needed that McCarthy and Hundley are essentially joined at the hip when it come to determining how Green Bay’s pass attack fares.

McCarthy Again Throttles Hundley

McCarthy/Hundley started out just fine. In their 14-play, 61-yard opening drive, M/H mixed in runs and short passes, and Hundley went 5-of-7. It led to a field goal. So far, so good.

In the second drive, quickly halted by a holding penalty, Hundley had two nice scrambles and completed his only pass, to Lance Kendricks for 11 yards. M/H is now 6-of-8 for 48 yards and having a good outing.

Drive three lasted one play: a deep pass over the middle to Jordy Nelson is intercepted by safety Justin Evans. Bad pass. AND THERE WENT McCARTHY’S CONFIDENCE IN HIS QUARTERBACK!

In the Packers’ fourth drive, Hundley was not given any pass plays. The five-play touchdown drive was the result of four runs by Jamaal Williams and a 14-yard scramble by Hundley.

McCarthy/Hundley came out for the second half and had three three-and-outs. M/H went 2-of-4: two three-yard passes to Jordy Nelson.

The Packers saved the game with a 10-play drive, starting with six minutes left in regulation time, and leading to a field goal. It consisted of 52 yards on the ground and 18 through the air. M/H’s total second-half pass production: 6-of-11 for 24 yards. The most telling play of the drive: on a 3rd-and-1 from the Buc’s five yard line, a completion to Jordy Nelson – for zero yardage.

In overtime, M/H continued to shun the pass, going 1-of-2 for 12 yards. The game was taken out of Hundley’s hands and put into those of Jaamal Williams and Aaron Jones.

By the slimmest of margins, it worked – but shackling one’s quarterback, as Big Mike keeps doing, is seldom going to produce a win.

I fear that McCarthy, whose belief in Hundley appears to be gone for good, is thinking his non-trusting, playing-safe approach just might produce a win against a team as bad as Cleveland.

Don’t be surprised If McCarthy/Hundley turns in its third sub-100-yard passing game come Sunday. I think the Packers’ run game will dictate whether Green Bay keeps its long-shot playoff hopes alive for another week.

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Rob Born

I’m with Matt: “You gotta make those chunk plays!”

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18 Comments

  1. Kato December 5, 2017

    I got around to watching a replay of the bucs game and I have the same conclusion as I have in other games: he can’t pull the trigger on throws downfield. This isn’t just on McCarthy. Hundley does not have the ability to be a starting QB

  2. Kato December 5, 2017

    Let’s not forget, Matt Flynn was at least competent. He averaged 7 yards a completion, had an 85 an rating. Had 7 TDs and 4 picks in 5 games.

    1. MJ December 5, 2017

      The devil is in the details. If Hundley does not have the ability to be an NFL QB… why the heck did we hold on to him as Rodgers’ backup instead of giving Callahan a try? While the ceiling may be tremendously low with Hundley, McCarthy had three years to work with him and figure that out.

      1. Kato December 6, 2017

        I don’t know. I am wondering the same thing myself.

        1. Empacador December 6, 2017

          Why ask why anymore. Rewind back to 2013 and compare what they did then with the QBs to what they have done today with the QBs. One would think after getting caught with their pants down after what they pulled in 2013 (by blowing up the position on the eve of the season opener) they would have learned from their mistakes. McNugget had eyes on Graham Harrell since 2010 and B.J. Coleman for a couple years too. History repeating itself because they hedged their bets by minimizing the risk of losing Rodgers. Not everyone can be an ironman like Bert was.

          That’s why I don’t understand after repeated, demonstrated boneheaded behavior, people are still on the McNugget bandwagon and defend him.

  3. PF4L December 5, 2017

    Once again, this really isn’t on McCarthy, Kato has it right again.

    McCarthy can’t make Hundley into something he isn’t. He doesn’t have good pocket presence, he doesn’t seem to read defenses well, and he sure as shit can’t work through progressions. He can’t make Hundley throw more accurately on mid to long passes.

    Yes, Hundley has had a small handful of nice downfield passes, a wide open Cobb, a couple nice deep throw’s to Davante, and a 6 yard pass to Williams, who turned it into a 54 yard td. But then compare that to his other awful attempts at throwing long. McCarthy doesn’t want Hundley throwing long very often for obvious reason’s and i think it’s justified. Don’t lose sight of the fact that Hundley has thrown 5 td’s and 8 picks this season. That’s why McCarthy is trying to keep Hundley swimming in the shallow end of the pool, so he doesn’t drown himself.

    Lets compare…….Matt Flynn, like Hundley, started 6 games for Green Bay under the same system, same coaches, and had far more success than Hundley.

    The biggest difference when comparing Flynn to Hundley, is that i don’t recall anyone needing to invent excuses for Flynn’s play on the field.

    1. Kato December 6, 2017

      The part that is on MM, and partly TT, is thinking Hundley can play well enough to win games. THAT is on them. But that is an entirely different conversation.

      My guess is Hundley is the Doug Pederson type of QB. Cerebral, probably knows the game and system very well, probably practices well, would probably be a good coach. But when it comes to actually playing in a game, and playing at NFL speed, he simply can’t do it and it is overwhelming.

      1. Empacador December 6, 2017

        Exactly!!

    2. Empacador December 6, 2017

      What, are you saying McNugget isn’t a QB whisperer or an offensive genius? I thought there were people here claiming he was solely responsible for turning Rodgers into The Man??

      In all seriousness though, he may not be able to do all those things you pointed out PF4L. As you mentioned, Flynn never looked this inept. But he can certainly tell his boss the guy doesn’t have it instead of pretending he is his guy after 3 years. After watching him perform the past month and a half, McNugget sure as hell shouldn’t be doubling down that Hundley is still his guy. Any bets on whether they pick a QB in the draft? Or do they think that Hundley just needs more seasoning to become viable at the position?

      1. PF4L December 6, 2017

        That’s the thing Empac…..TT supplys the guys, and it’s like there is no discussion, no communication between McCarthy and TT, or DC and TT. I’ve said it before, i wonder if these people even talk to each other much.

        That’s what i meant that it isn’t on MM. He’s dealt the hand to play by TT. It’s obvious that there is serious lack of communication. We have Rodgers, so everyone (TT) thinks they can do the bare minimum, then take 7 months off. I’ll say it again for the 50th time…….

        This team is broken.

        1. PF4L December 6, 2017

          Ted is a scout, McCarthy is a offensive coordinator, and Capers is a guy happy just to keep his job.

          That trio is night and day compared to Wolf, Holmgren, and Fritz Shurmur.

          This team is fucked up, and anyone who is naive enough to think this team has a chance at winning a Super Bowl is fucked up, even with Rodgers.

          Sorry.

  4. Gort December 5, 2017

    Like many things, its a “catch 22”. MM doesn’t call for long passes because BH can’t complete them to the good guys and BH can’t get more chances to throw deep because MM doesn’t call the play. MM is stuck with BH, he knows that his job next year depends on any success from BH and therefore is forced to put “lipstick on the pig” when telling the press how he trusts BH. MM has had 3 years to polish the turd and it still is a turd. Now drafting and keeping BH, that goes back to TT and likely the entire staff. MUST HAVE BIG CHANGES.

    1. MJ December 5, 2017

      We had Callahan more recently, so we did get another backup QB. It’s just that we didn’t give him a try. Or maybe they did, and it’s more terrifying than Hundley. But then, it’s on McCarthy and TT to talk it over and sort the situation out instead of hoping and praying for Rodgers to be protected by an angel.

  5. Phillthy December 5, 2017

    The question is: what’s it going to take to put the backup in? Honestly.

    What has to go wrong or right to see if the other guy is any worse? I believe everyone in Green Bay had confidence in Hundley going in, but at what point do you say its not working?

    1. Kato December 6, 2017

      My guess is Callahan is worse.

      1. PF4L December 6, 2017

        My guess is it doesn’t matter.

  6. Deepsky December 6, 2017

    I agree with Kato and PF4L.

    Hundley looks to me like a QB who has had a lot of coaching but not the ability. He seems to understand the coverages pre snap, understands the offense, he knows where the receivers are going to be, and his throwing motion seems pretty decent.

    The problem is as soon as the ball is snapped, he’s missing open receivers, putting his head down and taking off too early, and has no downfield arm. I can see how McCarthy maybe didn’t realize his game speed ability until he stepped onto the field in a real NFL game, but he had to know his arm wasn’t very good.

    Considering how awful he really is as a quarterback, it’s a miracle the Packers have won two games with this guy.

    1. PF4L December 6, 2017

      I won’t be surprised if the Packers win 3 games with Hundley, but lets not lose sight of the fact that those 3 teams winning percentage will be under .200.