The phrase “next man up” is heard throughout the NFL whenever a player goes down with an injury. However, this is not exactly applicable in the Green Bay Packers’ current situation.
Aaron Rodgers is one of the best to have ever played the quarterback position; all Packers fans know that. If you’re the Green Bay coaching staff, you can’t just ‘replace’ him.
We have seen in the last couple of weeks just how much Aaron Rodgers holds this offense together. They have looked borderline dysfunctional without him under center.
However, Mike McCarthy made it very clear last week that the Packers quarterback for the foreseeable future will be Brett Hundley.
Hundley is a third-year NFL quarterback who has received meaningful action only in the preseason before the past couple weeks.
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Against the Vikings, Hundley threw for 157 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions in a losing effort. Many people excused Hundley from any blame because he wasn’t ready for playing in that game. Also, the rest of the team seemed unprepared for him to lead the offense.
This past week was a different case. Hundley took reps with the starting offense all week, before starting the first game of his NFL career.
This game was probably worse than the one the previous week. Hundley was able to get Lambeau fans excited with a 14-yard touchdown scamper in the first half, but was unable to make a positive impact for the remainder of the game.
He was held to a meager 87 passing yards while completing 12 of his 25 attempts. His QBR was a lowly 39.9. This Saints’ defense also is not exactly composed of world beaters. The Saints came into this game as the sixth worst pass defense in the NFL. They also averaged giving up more than 260 passing yards per game.
In order for the Packers to somewhat fill the void that Rodgers’ injury left them with, the playcalling will need to change. Brett Hundley isn’t Aaron Rodgers so he shouldn’t be running an offense that is built to capitalize on Aaron Rodgers’ strengths.
What does this mean?
Well, it may seem unlikely that the coaching staff would ever listen to this, but how about mixing in some zone reads?
At UCLA Hundley compiled very impressive stats in his career because his running skills were emphasized by their offense. In Hundley’s junior and senior seasons he averaged 4.7 and 4.1 yards per carry, respectively. He also compiled 21 rushing touchdowns in the two seasons.
This running game also helped his aerial attack. During these final two years of his collegiate career, Hundley averaged over eight yards per completion with a QBR of over 152, along with a total of 46 touchdowns and 6,200 passing yards.
Transitioning from a collegiate spread offense to an NFL pro-style offense certainly is a tough process.
We know Hundley will need to string together a few wins in order to help lead this team into the playoffs. Therefore, the offense should maybe be changed a bit in order to bring out some of his best strengths.
We know Brett Hundley is not going to blow anyone away with his pocket passing. Capitalizing on Hundley’s rushing ability should be an area the Packers look to improve.
I’m not saying the Packers need to completely throw the playbook out the window and start anew with the read option.
However, the sporadic use of the zone read could offer a low-risk, high-reward opportunity.
By the way, rookie running back Aaron Jones, who was very impressive last week, played an offense that occasionally used some zone reads while in college at UTEP.
The bye week would be the perfect time for the Mike McCarthy and company to shake things up in their offense.