GREEN BAY, Wis. -- It took all of one quarter -- two drives, really -- for the Brett Hundley narrative to change. The Green Bay Packers' fill-in quarterback went from the guy who turned the corner last week in the win over the Bears to someone who might have been in danger of getting benched if coach Mike McCarthy had a better option.
That’s how quickly it unraveled.
Hundley threw interceptions on the first two drives of Sunday’s 23-0 loss to the Baltimore Ravens at Lambeau Field, where some fans booed and then left well before his third interception (and fourth turnover) just before the 2-minute warning.
“I think you remember seven days ago we were in Chicago and everybody was feeling great,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said after Sunday’s loss.
McCarthy might have been one of the few who still felt that way.
Yes, McCarthy acknowledged that Hundley must take care of the football better, “there’s no ifs and buts and whats,” but in the next breath he threw his full support behind his quarterback who is just 1-4 in games he’s finished since Aaron Rodgers broke his right collarbone in Week 6 at Minnesota.
“Brett Hundley’s our starter,” McCarthy said. “I believe in Brett Hundley. It didn’t go very well, obviously. We understand the standard that’s been set here. We’re all part of it. Brett Hundley’s part of that, too. So we’ll burn the tape.
“It’s unfortunate because of the way the team practiced this week. You like to see the team have success when they do so well in practice. Felt great coming here [Sunday]. Felt great coming off the practice field [Saturday]. Our defense took a step [Sunday]. They improved. We won a game in Chicago and also improved as a football team. We took a big step backwards on offense [Sunday]. It is because we didn’t take care of the football.”
At this point, with the Packers at 5-5, a tough game at Pittsburgh (8-2) looming Sunday night and their chances of staying relevant long enough for Rodgers to return in Week 15 dwindling, it’s not worth rehashing all that went wrong for Hundley and the offense. (Those who are gluttons for punishment can relive it all here). Just know that it’s the first time the Packers have been shut out in 11 years -- on a day when Brett Favre left with an elbow injury and Rodgers broke his foot (although he finished the game) in a 35-0 loss to the Patriots.
McCarthy said he never considered an in-game switch to Joe Callahan, the only other quarterback on the Packers’ active roster. Had they signed a veteran after Rodgers’ injury last month, perhaps he would’ve thought differently. Instead, it appears the Packers will ride it out with Hundley.
“I’ve just got to be better, no matter if that’s running or just making something happen out there,” Hundley said.
The Packers need Hundley to play like he did in the late stages of the win against the Bears, when he hit on enough big throws to make believers out of some.
It’s even more critical that Hundley avoid the poor throws and the bad decisions that led to Sunday’s turnovers.
“I can’t expect to be perfect,” Hundley said. “But at the end of the day I can expect to be better than this, and I will be going forward.”
It’s Hundley’s third NFL season but his first chance for extended playing time. There’s not enough yet to complete the book on the former fifth-round draft pick, but the first few chapters show a quarterback who has thrown two touchdowns and seven interceptions with a passer rating of just 63.2. Hundley has been sacked 17 times in less than five full games. He was pressured (either sacked or under duress) 18 times against the Ravens, the most by a Packers quarterback in two years and the most by the Ravens' defense this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Hundley threw two of his three interceptions and lost a fumble when pressured by Baltimore.
“We’re not in panic mode,” said receiver Davante Adams, whose eight-catch, 126-yard game was one of the few bright spots for the offense. “Everything is still in front of us. We've got to get a grip on it real quick here, otherwise we will be in panic mode. But I don't see time to panic. Panicking just leads to everybody just going all over the place, and the structure of your team and your offense kind of falls apart. So you never want to panic."