Sunday, November 19, 2017

For Packers, is the "investment" worth giving up the whole store?

Well, last week was last week. After the Chicago Bears gifted the Packers, Brett Hundley and his four turnovers helped to accomplish something the Packers have never done in the Aaron Rodgers era—laid a big fat goose egg in a game, in fact not in precisely 11 years when the Packers lost to New England 35-0 during Mike McCarthy’s first season as coach. In that game—also played in Green Bay—Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers combined for 9 of 27 passing for 105 yards (but surprisingly no interceptions).  Since then, not with Matt Flynn, not with Scott Tolzien, not even with Seneca Wallace did the Packers fail to score a point in a game. Still, for a while at least, the Packer defense kept the surprisingly inept Joe Flacco from taking advantage of numerous opportunities to put this game out-of-reach early.

But while this season’s Raven defense has not been as dominant as it has been in the past, apparently the game plan of forcing Hundley to adjust to the defense rather than vice-versa worked, which shouldn’t be too surprising given what that scouting report referred to as Hundley’s “internal clock” being a “mess,” among other things. Three interceptions, a lost fumble and six sacks were simply too much to overcome for the Packer defense; the only time the Packers threatened to score was in the first quarter, an effort that ended when Hundley threw his first interception in the end zone. End result: a 23-0 humiliation in front of the home ground.

Obviously Hundley is not Rodgers. How obvious? For Hundley to match Rodgers statistically this season, he will have to complete 32 of 35 for 448 yards, 11 touchdowns and somehow take back 4 interceptions next week against the Steelers. Such a performance is not “impossible,” just improbable, particular the interception part. I suspect that the freezing-level weather had something to do with Hundley’s play, and it isn’t going to get any better. In two weeks the Packers will be playing a presumably winless Browns team at Cleveland. Now that is going to be a more interesting game than it ought to be.

The question  now is why McCarthy is being so stubborn in maintaining with Hundley. As Stu Courtney as USA Today's "Packer Insider" wrote, "So now we know why McCarthy had been keeping Hundley on a short leash. Finally given more leeway Sunday after making some clutch throws in Chicago, Hundley was intercepted on each of the Packers’ first two series, threw three picks on the day and also lost a fumble after being leveled by Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs. When Hundley wasn’t giving the ball up, he frequently was heaving it out of bounds while fleeing from Ravens pass rushers. Rather than giving backup Joe Callahan a late look, McCarthy stuck with Hundley to the bitter end."

And Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel offered this scathing appraisal:

Either coach Mike McCarthy and his assistants failed completely in training backup Brett Hundley to play quarterback in their offense. Or general manager Ted Thompson has wasted a year by putting his chips on someone who can’t win throwing from the pocket.

Others, like Pete Dougherty, continue to insist that Hundley's poor play is anyone's fault but his, which flies in the face of reality; after all, if Aaron Rodgers could win with this unit, then it has to be the guy who is playing quarterback who is the problem. So far, three years of "investment" in Hundley has yielded a "profit" of one win in five games. Why let a hard head give up the whole store?

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