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QB Brett Hundley's Success Falls on Shoulders of the Offensive Line

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QB Brett Hundley's Success Falls on Shoulders of the Offensive Line

With Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers sidelined for an extensive period of time -- specifically an eight-week minimum depending on the status of his collarbone and nature of the break -- there are a plethora of unanswered questions. None of them, however, should be centered around Brett Hundley.

A backup quarterback for a Rodgers-led Packers team since he was drafted out of UCLA in 2015, Hundley's experience and familiarity with the system under coach Mike McCarthy and quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt will prove to be valuable during this sudden audition in Rodgers' absence.

A snakebitten audition in the wake of an unfortunate injury, sure, but it's clear that Hundley is at the epicenter of his staff and teammates' commitment.

It ultimately won't come down to how well Hundley performs, even despite him being thrown into full control of a once-soaring offense.

The biggest factors in whether or not the Packers are still in the playoff mix come December is how healthy the team around him is. That includes not being forced into situations where a third-string guard is starting at left tackle.

"Brett has that poise," said center Corey Linsley on Monday, someone who will be majorly responsible for keeping Hundley upright during his starting trek through the remainder of the Packers' season. "He's not coming in the huddle shaky. He's straight to the point, he's delivering the play. We had issues yesterday in the huddle, then clear and concise, he got it in there."

Linsley goes from protecting Rodgers one second to holding up the pocket for Hundley the next. It's something that he's going to have to get used to because it's very likely that Rodgers' next meaningful throw could come in the 2018 season.

"I'm excited about moving forward with these guys, whoever's playing -- we'll try to get as many people back as we can. But, regardless, we're moving forward."

Meanwhile, guard Jahri Evans isn't exactly used to protecting a quarterback that isn't his team's initial starter.

During his 11 years with the New Orleans Saints, Evans only protected for a quarterback that wasn't Drew Brees twice -- 2009 and 2015 -- but now he'll deal with that foreign adversity in Green Bay.

Evans (73) and Hundley (7) celebrate a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings. (Green Bay Press-Gazette/USA TODAY Sports)

"It's going to be tough, and we all know that," Evans said. "This is a challenge that we have to face head-on." Evans and Linsley are the only two Packers offensive linemen to start every game this season in what has been a rotating shuffle of bruised and battered players. 

Both starting offensive tackles David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga reaggravated their initial hamstring and ankle injuries, respectively. That's what led to Ulrick John playing his first snaps of the season with the Packers on Sunday in relief of the tallying injuries.

Evans' consistency is in tune with a majority of his career as one of the most durable linemen in the league. In addition to starting all six games for the Packers this season, he's missed just seven of a possible 175 career games. In his lone season with the Packers -- he signed a one-year, $2.25 million dollar deal in April -- he won't get to make a long-term luxurious transition from Brees to Rodgers.

Instead, it'll be Hundley's team Evans plays out his 12th NFL season for.

"Brett [Hundley] was good, he came in and no moment was too big for him. He took it head-on, he was ready, he was calm and he did some good things out there. I expect him to be better this week, to understand more -- what the gameplan is -- and to be focused and dialed in like he's the starting quarterback going into this game."

The Packers are in much better of a spot than they were the last time Rodgers broke his [left] collarbone. Rather than Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn forming a quarterback carousel, they'll roll with Hundley, whose experience in a system for almost three years is going to be put to the ultimate test.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (23) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Your a machine Zack...

The TKstinator's picture

Plethora!

RCPackerFan's picture

The one thing that will help Hundley and the backups along the OL is his mobility. He has the ability to escape much like Rodgers did.

His TD against Minnesota was created by him stepping up in the pocket.

I think we will see McCarthy developing the offense to suit Hundley's talents as well. Hundley knows the offense, but he hasn't been able to work with the 1st string players as much. Getting a weeks worth of practice will definitely help that.
But overall I don't think we will see many differences.

Maybe a few more swing passes to RB's, maybe more 2 TE looks to help blocking. Probably will try to run the ball more too. I do believe Hundley will be ready for the starting job though.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Yeah, I am looking forward to seeing Hundley move. Just too many reasons he should not be standing back there down after down...

Duke Divine's picture

What offensive line?

Hematite's picture

You know, the one that has been truly offensive for years!

dobber's picture

What? They ranked near the top of the league in pass blocking last year...run blocking? Welllll....

billybobton's picture

no they were not a top pass blocking line

the "OFFENSE" had metrics that showed success against pass rush
that is not the same

no other offense got the benefit of pass rushers not pass rushing but containing, no other QB got great pass rushers (like the ATL playoff game) not rushing but spying

AROD was the best ever seen at footwork to set up his average line to stay in front of defenders that were defeating them

you will see clearly how the OL is now

dobber's picture

"the "OFFENSE" had metrics that showed success against pass rush
that is not the same"

Then I don't know how you measure what a top pass blocking line is.

Did Dallas have a top run-blocking line or did they have metrics that showed success against run defenses?

"no other offense got the benefit of pass rushers not pass rushing but containing, "

Pretty much every offense with a mobile QB has that benefit.

Lphill's picture

Yes 3 years of practice in this offense and the motivation of a future contract as a starter next year somewhere else should help , it paid off for Matt Flynn .

packerbackerjim's picture

I think it’s time to transition to a 60/40 run to pass ratio. Brett should be tasked with managing the offense, not be AR 2.0. Asking Hundley to do anything more behind a leaky pass-pro line is futile.In addition to losing games, he will lose trade value. Maybe later in the year when the OL is healthy the Packers can revert to primary pass attack approach.

flackcatcher's picture

Ulrick John. Does it not say it all. Man oh Man.....

The TKstinator's picture

His mom was great in Grease.

Bure9620's picture

I see reason to be optimistic. I think Hundley has enough arm talent to move the ball efficiently. I am expecting MM to taylor a plan with basically the old school West coast offense, think Favre in '09. Getting ball out of BH hand quickly and let those WRs go to work. Lots of quick passes, bubble screens, stick routes, quick outs and slants, curl/flat concepts and some designed screens with lots of blocking in space. Our WR corps is experienced enough and talented enough to make this work and they can all block. I think Cobb is involved more. I think less and less 12 perssonel with Hundley. We can then spread them out and run inside zone runs off of it to keep the d honest. If you recall McCarthy decreased Favres picks by 1/2 that year. Let's not underestimate MM pedigree and the culture in the locker room. Some teams would fold here, I think the Pack will stay above water.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

There are many questions out there, but absolutely some of them center on Hundley. The number one issue is whether he can read a #1 defense that isn't playing vanilla?

stockholder's picture

I think this offensive line will do well. The Saints defense is a far cry from the Vikings. I believe you'll see the patched -up line that did well in dallas.

Duke Divine's picture

Ok. That's great. How about Brees history vs Capers defense?

dobber's picture

Brees is one of the most prolific passers of all time. He's made a lot of DCs look bad...repeatedly.

Razor's picture

Bulaga always hurt.
Trade Marty B - heza bust.

al bundy's picture

I see Hndley was was fitth round pick. That means that 32 teams passed on him at least 4 times. Albeit many had no need for a QB at the time but I;m thinking if this guy had some real potential someone would have grabbed him as insurance in the fourth, possible third round if they had multiple picks.

We will find out why on Sunday. He's had three years to prepare and lots of pre season play. Lets hope Ted knew something the others didnt. Its showtime!

dobber's picture

How many teams passed how many times on Tom Brady?

It happens...

4thand1's picture

Dan Marino? Bart Starr? Aaron Rodgers? Sober up.

donnyanderson44's picture

I'm wondering if Coach throws in a wrinkle and runs the wildcat. What is the wildcat exactly? I know you need a running quarterback to pull it off.

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