The Green Bay Packers entered this year with Super Bowl aspirations, only to have those aspirations dashed after quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down with a collarbone injury in a Week Six matchup with the Minnesota Vikings. Into his spot stepped Brett Hundley, who was a fifth round pick in the 2015 NFL draft. Hundley would remain the starter until Week 15 against the Carolina Panthers and would later return to the starting role in Week 16 after the Packers were eliminated from postseason contention.
Hundley had a lot of ups and downs this season. There were games where he looked fantastic, and games where he looked downright dreadful. Here is our evaluation of Hundley’s 2017 campaign.
Recapping and Evaluating Brett Hundley’s 2017 Season
First, we’ll highlight the positives. Hundley, with no meaningful NFL experience before this season, was able to step in and lead the Packers to three wins. Those three wins kept Green Bay in the hunt and left the team at 7-6 with a chance to make the playoffs as Rodgers was set to make his return. Even though those three wins were against poor teams in the Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, for Hundley to keep the team afloat in Rodgers’s absence is worth something.
Despite a lot of negativity and frustration from the fanbase, Hundley did a lot of things right this season. Hundley, even in his worst games, always maintained a level of confidence and composure, and did his best to lead this Packers team that at times seemed desperate for a leader. Never was this more evident when Hundley played on the road, where he posted a 91.7 passer rating and never seemed to be rattled by opposing crowds. In road games against the Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers, he was nothing short of incredible.
Great in Games Against Pittsburgh and Cleveland
Against Cleveland, Hundley threw for 265 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winning touchdown to Davante Adams in overtime. In what many people agree was his best game of the year, Hundley went toe-to-toe with one of the AFC’s best teams in Pittsburgh and nearly pulled off a remarkable upset. He finished that game with 245 yards passing and three touchdowns, along with a 134.3 passer rating. In both of these games, Hundley led game-tying drives late in the fourth quarter. He also led a game-tying drive against the Buccaneers and a game-winning drive in overtime that was capped by a walkoff Aaron Jones touchdown run. Against the Bears, Hundley threw a 42-yard bomb to Adams on third and 10 to help seal his first win as a starter.
Perhaps the best thing we saw from Hundley, however, was how he grew and got better from week to week. Early on in his time as a starter, he tried to do more than he needed to do. He forced a lot of passes and tried to play too much like someone he isn’t. As the season progressed, Hundley embraced his role as a game-manager. He excelled when given the chance to run the ball and complete throws he was confident in making. He showed a lot of maturity for someone who had never seen meaningful NFL action, and that’s to be admired.
Now, on to the negatives. Hundley, throughout all the progression he made this season, never got past many of his bad habits that cost the Packers dearly on many occasions. Hundley never showed an ability to stand in against the pass rush and complete throws, as he was at his worst against the blitz, where he often panicked and took sacks or tried to force throws. He often stared down his receivers, which resulted in many interceptions. His lack of experience was glaringly obvious at times, such as when he took a timeout at the end of the first quarter against the Bears when the clock was already set to run out.
He struggled mightily in many games this season. Among his worst performances were the two shutouts, both of which came at Lambeau Field. In the first shutout against the Baltimore Ravens, Hundley threw for 239 yards and three interceptions. He consistently put too much or too little on throws, and rarely showed any sort of touch.
Against the Vikings in Week 16, Hundley was even worse, throwing for 130 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions. He threw for less than 100 yards on two separate occasions, often struggling to find his deep ball. There were many times where he simply looked confused, and often broke out of the pocket far too early. His performance was arguably the main reason why Green Bay lost against the New Orleans Saints, Ravens and Vikings. If the Packers were able to win just one of those, it’s likely Green Bay would’ve made the playoffs.
Hundley’s 2017 season was one with many highs and many lows. The highs were often very high, while the lows were often very low. At times, he looked fantastic, especially in late game situations, and he was a big reason why Rodgers was able to return this season. Other times, however, his erratic, undisciplined play cost the Packers big time, and was the driving force behind the two shutout losses at home. In the end, Hundley played just about as well as you could expect a fifth round quarterback playing in place of the heart and soul of a franchise could play, and he did enough this year to at least give the Packers hope. He may never be a full-time starter, but with more experience, he can be a higher-end NFL backup that does just enough when called upon.
Final 2017 statline: 192 of 316 (60.8%) for 1,836 yards, nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions, 36 rushes for 270 yards and two touchdowns.
Overall Grade: C+