Green Bay Packers fans found out that life without Aaron Rodgers at quarterback is exactly what we all thought it would be – rough.
Packers fans watched as the team dropped its first game without the two-time MVP on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, 26-17. Brett Hundley struggled at times, but was not awful in his first career NFL start.
Hundley only completed 12 of 25 passes for 87 yards and threw one interception. He showed off his mobility compiling 44 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown run in the second quarter that helped put his team up 14-7.
It was evident Mike McCarthy was ultra conservative with Hundley and that’s the biggest problem. Just over a week ago, McCarthy snapped on a reporter for asking about the possibility of signing Colin Kaepernick.
"“Did you listen to the question I just answered?” McCarthy said. “OK, I got three years invested in Brett Hundley, two years invested in Joe Callahan, the quarterback room is exactly where it needs to be.”"
With three years invested in Hundley, you’d expect McCarthy to let him loose against a mediocre Saints secondary.
Aaron Nagler, who covers the Packers for the Green Bay Press-Gazette posed this question via twitter:
The answer is simple, it says McCarthy is not confident in his abilities.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a team built to play conservative without Rodgers. The defense is not talented enough to preserve a lead and that is exactly why they need to remain aggressive.
While trailing 19-17 with about 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Green Bay went three and out on a drive that featured back-to-back Aaron Jones runs for a combined one yard.
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The following drive, the Saints drove down the field in just under four minutes, scored a touchdown and put the finishing touches on the Packers.
This was a very winnable game. Drew Brees may have finished the game with over 300 yards, but he wasn’t spectacular.
Green Bay’s defense forced two interceptions, but responded with nothing. They went three and out on both drives and gained 15 yards on six plays, five of which were on the ground.
At 4-3, this team has a much-needed bye week to rest, get healthy and explore their options.
The NFC is wide open and the season is far from over, despite that being the narrative for many without Rodgers.
If Green Bay wants to have any chance to compete for the playoffs, McCarthy and company cannot be conservative with Hundley.
They need to let him take shots, make mistakes, and learn from those mistakes. If he isn’t given that opportunity, they will never know his true abilities.