Aaron Rodgers' backup battle futile without improvement

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- At this time last year, the Green Bay Packers couldn't have felt more comfortable with their backup quarterback.

They believed they would be in good hands with Brett Hundley if something happened to Aaron Rodgers.

Last season showed how wrong they were.

Although Hundley kept the Packers on the fringes of playoff contention with three victories after Rodgers broke his collarbone, coach Mike McCarthy's postseason assessment that even in his third year Hundley "wasn't ready for what he needed to be ready for" told all.

No wonder the Packers traded for DeShone Kizer in March.

Yet here are the Packers, with their offseason program completed and training camp just five weeks away, and they can't feel much better about their backup quarterback situation than they did when McCarthy made that bold statement at the combine. A spring's worth of individual workouts, OTA practices and an entire minicamp without Rodgers (who was excused from the final week of the offseason program) did little to convince anyone the Packers have a capable fill-in quarterback.

It will be a competition to see who backs up Rodgers this season, but if the winner doesn't show marked improvement, then it won't matter who has the job, because the Packers once again could be in trouble if either one had to play.

To be sure, both Hundley and Kizer had their moments in last week's minicamp: Hundley led a touchdown drive in a 2-minute drill with a 22-yard corner route to rookie receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, while Kizer hit Jake Kumerow on a 44-yard go route during his turn in the same drill. But the overall body of work included myriad missed throws and would-be sacks for holding the ball too long -- problems that plagued Hundley in his nine starts last season and Kizer in his 15 last year for the winless Browns.

"The confidence is here now," Kizer said near the conclusion of minicamp. "Now, it's about going out and showing that I can be a consistent quarterback. It's kind of universally known that the ability is there and the potential is there. Now, it's about going out every day and every rep and proving myself."

That will have to come in training camp and the preseason for the Packers to feel better about Kizer, who led the NFL with 22 interceptions and ranked last in completion percentage (53.6 percent). One NFL coach familiar with Kizer called him a "total rebuild" and wondered what the Browns were coaching last season.

"I think this is a normal process that you go through," McCarthy said of Kizer. "Really, the first two weeks is just all classroom. So that was really spent on the new language, a lot of the changes that we were making to the guys, to the existing veterans that were here, the comparables from prior offense to the new offense. And then really phase two was the first time really just starting to go through the installs. So, obviously the OTAs we were able to get through all eight of the installs."

Kizer also worked this offseason with Tom House, who has served as Tom Brady's personal quarterback instructor when he's away from the Patriots facility, and plans to spend some time with him again before training camp opens in late July to fine tune things before the preseason games, which carry ultra-importance for backup quarterbacks.

"It was an offseason of trying to make some corrections off of a tough first year," Kizer said. "This is my opportunity to correct those. Obviously, in the position of being behind Aaron, you can't expect to go out there and get game reps and prove your corrections there. This is my time to prove myself."

Yet even this summer could be fool's gold. Hundley was once the king of the preseason, leading the NFL in summer passing yards while throwing seven touchdowns and just one interception in 2015. That failed to translate. He didn't throw a single touchdown last season at home, where had a passer rating of 50.6 and threw seven interceptions in six appearances.

Hundley did not speak to reporters this offseason, so it's anyone's guess how he feels about McCarthy's comments at the combine or the acquisition of Kizer.

However, Hundley's nine starts at least provided a base for McCarthy, offensive coordinator Joe Philbin and new quarterbacks coach Frank Cignetti to work on. And it sounds like there was plenty of that.

"Fundamentals, foot work, decision-making," McCarthy said when asked what Hundley worked on this offseason. "Just really going back and doing a better job of repping the fundamentals, the footwork, particular concepts whether it's in the gun or under center. Every quarterback has a profile, throwing mechanics, and this is the time of year really to focus in on the little things, and I feel Brett has taken a step this offseason."