GREEN BAY, Wis. – The assessment of Brett Hundley’s first NFL preseason was nearly unanimous.
Given that the rookie fifth-round pick from UCLA had never played in a West Coast offense, that he was facing a steep learning curve with the complexity of the Green Bay Packers’ version of it, and the fact that Hundley missed the first week of organized team activity practices because of the annual NFL Players Association Rookie Premiere event, it would have been understandable if he had struggled in exhibition play.
Instead, he put up Aaron Rodgers-style numbers – he completed 45 for 65 passes (69.2 percent) for 630 yards with seven touchdowns and just one interception (129.7 rating) – and left coaches and teammates alike raving about his performance and potential. In fact, there was really only one person who was largely unimpressed with how he played.
But as he spent his offseason viewing film not only of his preseason in-game performances but practice tape of his scout-team work near the end of the year, that’s when Hundley started to feel as good about his progress as head coach Mike McCarthy was as he gushed about him at the NFL scouting combine.
“I’m going to be 100 percent honest: Watching preseason tape, I didn’t like what I saw. Me personally, as far as footwork and everything,” Hundley said while attending the fifth annual Wisconsin Sports Awards earlier this week. “But at the end of the season, I saw what I wanted to see.
“It’s that transition of, you still have a decent game, a good game in the preseason, but it’s the small details that you look at and go, ‘All right, I’ve still got to do this and this and this better.’ And finally, at the end of the year, I watched the film of those practices, and that’s the stuff I really started to like. So I’m looking forward to being able to pick up from there.”
The Packers are looking forward to seeing even more growth from him, too. Actually, they’re banking on it, having allowed veteran backup Scott Tolzien to leave as an unrestricted free agent and elevating Hundley to the No. 2 job. Tolzien signed a two-year deal to back up Andrew Luck in Indianapolis.
Hundley wasn’t surprised by the promotion but immediately understood that the team’s expectations and his responsibilities will be greater now that he’s one play away from having to fill in for a two-time NFL MVP.
“I just sort of patterned my offseason and went with it. Whatever the decision was going to be made, was going to be made, but my whole mindset was, ‘I’m just going to play,’” Hundley said.
Hundley will undoubtedly benefit from a full offseason, as the Packers will kick off their offseason program next Tuesday and he, Rodgers and developmental quarterback Ryan Williams will attend McCarthy’s annual quarterback school as well.
Hundley will need all that extra work, too, because with five preseason games on the schedule, he figures to get a ton of work this summer while McCarthy is careful with the 32-year-old Rodgers.
“To see where I finished off at the end of the season, that progress is unbelievable for me to watch, to understand how far I’ve come from college to now, in a year,” Hundley said. “Right now, I’m just taking it slow, but I feel really ready to get the season started, to get to preseason, get some reps and just have some fun again.
“Obviously Aaron is the guy at quarterback. For me, it was all about understanding and trying to learn as much as possible. And in Year 1, I can’t even express how much I learned. But going into Year 2, my mindset is the same. I’m going to play, do the best I can, and keep developing. It’s going to be a fun year, for myself and the team. I’m looking forward to it. I just have to progress off of what I did last year.”