When the Packers pour onto Lambeau Field Thursday night, all eyes will be on Brett Hundley. The presumed backup to Aaron Rodgers has been taking starting reps and will get in a significant chunk of work at the quarterback position. I expect to see Hundley for close to a half with Callahan and Hill taking snaps for a quarter or so each. While Callahan had a great pre-season last year in the absence of Hundley, the team needs to have a clear cut number two and has more than one reason to hope that Hundley succeeds. Here are three ways that Brett Hundley can trust the system and have an excellent showing in the game.
Trust his eyes
The system has educated Hundley as a quarterback. Aaron Rodgers has talked about how Hundley’s recognition has improved and his vision and recognition will be put to the test in live action Thursday. Pre-snap reads are critical but Hundley has been around enough to trust the system and his eyes. Anticipating not just pressure (there won’t be much in the bag of tricks) but also expecting mis-matches that he can exploit are key. Progressing through his reads should be second nature by now and Hundley can show his maturity by using his eyes not just to find the open receiver, but also to hold defensive backs and manipulate them in the backfield.
Trust his instincts
Hundley has been in the Packers’ system now for three years and while his second year was limited due to injury, he has had just enough time to begin moving past the “thinking” phase at the quarterback position and just begin to trust his instincts. This includes, “feeling” pressure and throwing to his hot read. Hundley needs to get the ball out fast and when plays break down, not be afraid to use his athleticism. While we want to see him develop as a quarterback, Hundley, while keeping his eyes downfield, should have an opportunity or two to show how he can turn defenders’ backs and gain a first down with his feet. But this is dependent on him trusting his instincts. There won’t be as many blitzes as this is the pre-season so Brett should have a good chance to be successful which will add to his confidence level.
Trust his talent
Quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers make receivers look even better than they actually are at times. On the other hand, Aaron Rodgers also has starters to throw to every time he takes the field. Brett Hundley, conversely, is still trying to prove that he can be a starter and also will be working with less seasoned receivers out on the field. This is no excuse. The Packers as a draft and develop team have consistently kept the “hopper” full with young talent and Hundley will be throwing to several players that he is familiar with, along with a couple talented rookies. Guys like Allison, Janis, Davis et al are more than capable and could make for a pretty effective passing offense as the Eagles defense will likely be resting their starters too.
All-in-all, this is Brett Hundley’s time to shine, he has another year of experience and if he trusts the system, should have a solid game. While one rarely would expect gaudy numbers, Hundley has had them in the past. His 129.7 passer rating two years ago led the way in the preseason. In that year, Hundley threw four touchdowns against the Saints and also threw for 315 yards against, you guessed it, the Eagles.
While the Eagles are a totally different team, Brett is a year down the road himself and has grown with the same team. Should be an interesting night.