Leading up to this season, it had been speculated that there was a chance the Green Bay Packers could flip their young backup quarterback Brett Hundley for a draft choice via a trade. Former general manager Ron Wolf had success doing that during his tenure when he did that with quarterbacks Mark Brunell (traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars) and Aaron Brooks (traded to the New Orleans Saints).
So when Hundley showed some success during preseason action and with having the so called “quarterback whisperer” Mike McCarthy as his head coach, it looked like current general manager Ted Thompson could do the same as his mentor Wolf once did. However, that didn’t turn out to be the case as Hundley was forced into action when starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone during the Packers loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
Hundley’s performance in Rodgers’ absence was up and down. It wasn’t the type of performance that would make other NFL teams give up valuable draft picks for Hundley’s services, but the performance might have been enough for the Packers to feel comfortable with Hundley if Rodgers were to go down again. The Green Bay Packers long term backup quarterback might just be Brett Hundley.
The Green Bay Packers Long-Term Backup Quarterback Might Just Be Brett Hundley
It is hard to fathom that the Packers and their fans might have overestimated how well Hundley would perform stepping into Rodgers place. Hundley had never really seen any type of meaningful playing time during his three-year career in the NFL. Sure, he had some success in the preseason, but that’s a whole lot different than playing in the regular season. Part of the high expectations might be more linked to McCarthy than Hundley himself.
McCarthy has played a big role in Rodgers’ success. He stood by Rodgers when former starting quarterback Brett Favre unretired and showed up for training camp back in 2008. But the credit given to McCarthy seems to have been overvalued. Although he slipped in the first round when he was drafted, Rodgers still had first round talent and it’s been on display since he became Packers starting quarterback. Besides Rodgers’ development and some success with former backup quarterback Matt Flynn, McCarthy hasn’t had the same successes and really hasn’t earned the “great quarterback coach” title that some have given to him. So even with having three seasons in the Packers program, it wasn’t a given that Hundley would have any type of success when he took over for Rodgers this season.
Hundley had his struggles during his starting tenure this season. In the seven full games he started this season, Hundley registered two games where he didn’t break the 100-yard passing mark. He also threw five interceptions altogether during those seven games. But on the flip side, he also showed that he might have some potential, maybe not as a full time starter, but somebody who can keep the train moving in Rodgers’ absence.
In the Packers loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Hundley showed some good command of the Packers offense, throwing for 245 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Last week, in the Packers overtime victory over the Cleveland Browns, Hundley threw for 265 yards with three touchdowns and again no interceptions. He struggled with his pocket presence while starting, but he did show some escapability to avoid the rush. Oddly, it took McCarthy some time to figure out that Hundley and his legs are a weapon and finally started to highlight that ability with some zone read plays, something Hundley flourished at while at UCLA. For as many struggles as Hundley showed, he did what was asked, he kept the Packers playoffs hopes alive until Rodgers became healthy.
Solid Backup Quarterbacks Have a Spot in the NFL
With the announcement that Rodgers has been cleared to return to action, Hundley finds himself back as the Packers backup quarterback. It doesn’t appear that Thompson and the Packers will be flipping Hundley this off-season for a draft pick or two via a trade, but it appears that they have found their long term backup quarterback in Hundley.
There was once a time in the NFL that teams could develop not just one quarterback but sometimes two. But with most teams adapting a “win now” mentality, they don’t have the time or even the patience to do that. Now, teams are lucky if they can develop just one quarterback.
There is a chance that Hundley might not become a long-term starting quarterback in the NFL. But with some of the potential he flashed during his time as the Packers starter this season, he could have a very long career as a solid backup, with the potential to be a spot starter when necessary. That isn’t a loss for the Packers, but actually a win. Rodgers, if he stays healthy, doesn’t appear to be going anywhere and with how the NFL protects their franchise quarterbacks, he could play another eight to 10 years. But now that they know Hundley can handle the job if necessary, they can breathe a little easier. Solid backup quarterbacks have a spot in today’s NFL and Hundley might just be the long term answer at that position for the Packers.