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.