Brett Hundley has not looked good as a starting quarterback, at least not through the first two-plus games as the Green Bay Packers’ leading option. That is not entirely his fault, as the Packers’ defense has limited his opportunities and head coach Mike McCarthy has taken blame for some questionable game-planning decisions.
This week, one of McCarthy’s former players - Greg Jennings - expressed his feelings that the team needs to use more of a high-tempo offense to help Hundley out in an interview with Locked On Packers. In particular, the few times that Hundley did look good on Monday night against the Detroit Lions almost universally involved playing in a no-huddle offense.
That’s what Jennings would like to see from the Packers’ offense moving forward. “When they came out, you saw (McCarthy) allow Brett to come out of the game throwing some quick passes and different things to kind of get him going,” Jennings said. “What I was most surprised about was after that first possession, was that he didn’t allow (Hundley) to just go. He kept him right there.”
Both of the Packers’ touchdowns came in the fourth quarter, when the team needed to hurry the offense up in an effort to get back in the game. Jennings picked up on this as well: “Toward the end of the game you saw him get more comfortable, because they were in a no huddle, hurry-up style offense. Sometimes, that’s what you have to do. You eliminate the thinking now because it’s all about making plays.”
One significant issue that Hundley has displayed so far is not getting rid of the football quickly enough, and Jennings saw a similar trend in Aaron Rodgers’ first few years as a starter. “Aaron has to share this with him because we used to get on Aaron about this: he holds the ball too long. When it’s not there, it’s not there. Let it go.”
Jennings specifically mentioned Rodgers’ first few years as a starter as an example of this tendency. “Aaron had that so bad. If you go back and you watch ‘08 and 09 he used to get sacked so much because he just would not throw the ball away.
“Those are things I feel like Aaron can help him with because he experienced that. He went through that.”
The answer to a productive offense and passing game lies somewhere between encouraging Hundley to attempt the improvisation that makes Aaron Rodgers so deadly and dictating his specific reads and throws. In Jennings’ experience, the latter just does not work: “I remember being (in Minnesota) with a young Teddy Bridgewater, and Norv was telling him ‘okay if you don’t have this,’ literally as he called the play, he would tell him who he had, who he should be throwing to. Or ‘if you don’t have this person you have your check down.’ You can’t do that to a quarterback.”
Hundley has more than two years of experience learning the Packers’ playbook, so Jennings’ point makes sense — the quarterback should know the scheme and the playbook inside and out, and he doesn’t need to be thinking too much when he takes the field. Limiting a quarterback’s options as the play is called is just the kind of “training wheels” mentality that we at APC have hoped the Packers and Mike McCarthy will avoid with Hundley — and to be fair, there is no indication that the situation that Jennings described is taking place in Green Bay.
Still, McCarthy and Rodgers have opportunities to help Hundley grow and succeed in this offense. It’s now a matter of taking advantage of them.