Sunday, November 26, 2017

Four plays by Packers' Hundley makes for a deceiving look

Last season the Dallas Cowboys, with Dak Prescott subbing for the injured Tony Romo, won 11 straight games after losing the season opener to the New York Giants by a single point. Since then, including the playoffs, Prescott is 7-9 as a starter. Now, that could simply mean a “sophomore” jinx, or it could mean that we are seeing another RG3 or Colin Kaepernick—a supernova that blinded observers for a year or two, then quickly faded into darkness. 

The question concerning the Packers’ Brett Hundley, of course, is quite the opposite. He hasn’t “blinded” anyone with his play yet, and we can only conjecture if he will become something more. Sure, he looked “good” in the preseason, but we now know that his scouting report out of UCLA was a more accurate template to judge him once the real “bullets” started flying. Going into this past Sunday night game in Pittsburgh, few gave the Packers a puncher’s chance. I’ve heard this before; when Matt Flynn started for the concussed Aaron Rodgers in 2010 in Foxboro against the Patriots, the TV pregame crew joked and predicted a 35-0 blowout. Instead, the Packers were another Mike McCarthy clock mismanagement away from winning the game in the final moments. 

But look, this is a Steeler team that was blown-out by Jacksonville after Ben Roethlisberger threw five interceptions, and barely won two weeks ago against Indianapolis after allowing their back-up quarterback two long touchdown throws. Against the Packers, the Steelers gave-up three turnovers while forcing none, and their secondary once more fell down on their faces on several occasions. 

Still, it was yet another Packer defeat, 31-28. Hundley is now 1-5 since Rodgers injury on the Packers first series against the Vikings in Week 6. Despite the fact that a casual look at his numbers indicate what is by far Hundley’s best game, I never at any time thought the Packers were going to win this thing, because I simply didn’t believe Pittsburgh’s defense was so bad it was going to keep belly-flopping at inopportune times. Why? Because other than those few blown plays, Hundley was terrible, as usual. Four of his passes covered 173 yards, and three produced touchdowns which was "great," mainly because we hadn't seen anything like that since Rodgers went down. But again, the Steelers’ defense just seemed to be caught napping on those plays—and for the rest of the game, Hundley completed 13 of 22 passes for a mere 72 yards, barely five yards per completion and barely 3 yards per pass attempt. And it gets worse if you throw in four sacks for 18 yards in losses, which makes it 26 plays for just 54 yards. Almost 60 percent of the Packers offensive output came on just those four plays. Take away those breakdowns, the Steelers’ defense was as dominant as the Ravens’ last week in Green Bay. 

But give Hundley credit; on paper, the numbers looked good and Packers made this more than a mismatch. Next week it is at home against Tampa Bay and then on the road against Cleveland. This game at least makes those two seem “winnable,” but once more, you have to take Hundley one week at a time. In the meantime, the Packers just keep losing.

UPDATE: Noting that in the past three weeks the Steelers' secondary has allowed touchdown passes  of 54, 55, 60, 61 and 75 yards, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette beat writer Gerry Dulac observed that

Maybe it didn’t matter that Aaron Rodgers wasn’t in uniform for the Green Bay Packers. Not with the way the Steelers secondary made Brett Hundley look like Brett Favre. If he were, maybe the Packers, who were shut out last week at home by the Baltimore Ravens, would have doubled their 28-point total Sunday night at Heinz Field. Really, it doesn’t seem to matter who plays quarterback against the Steelers and their suddenly suspect secondary. Doesn’t matter if it’s Jacoby Brissett subbing for Andrew Luck or Hundley stepping in for Rodgers.

Tell that to starry-eyed Packer fans now with a short memory.

No comments:

Post a Comment