Learn­ing how to get along with Hund­ley

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - SPORTS - Eric Baranczyk and Pete Dougherty

The Green Bay Pack­ers just might have found their iden­tity with Brett Hund­ley as their quar­ter­back in the sec­ond half at Soldier Field on Sun­day.

Even with Aaron Jones (knee) and Ty Mont­gomery (ribs) out with in­juries, coach Mike McCarthy kept the clock turned back to the 1980s and found an of­fen­sive rhythm by pound­ing run­ning back Ja­maal Wil­liams down af­ter down, and mix­ing in Hund­ley passes off that.

The re­sult was sev­eral ef­fec­tive drives — two that put points on the board and an­other that should have but for a botched hold on a field goal — to close out the Pack­ers’ 23-16 win over the Chicago Bears.

This is how the Pack­ers have to play

with Hund­ley only three starts into his NFL ca­reer. They can’t make a liv­ing hav­ing him throw down af­ter down. He can’t keep the chains mov­ing that way be­cause he doesn’t make the quick de­ci­sions and have the an­tic­i­pa­tion of quar­ter­backs such as Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees.

Twice on the Pack­ers’ first pos­ses­sion alone, Hund­ley had passes bro­ken up be­cause he threw too late.

So if the Pack­ers try to just spread the field and put most of the game on Hund­ley, it’s not go­ing to work.

What they did while clos­ing out the game gives them their best chance. On their last three drives they had 17 called runs and eight called passes. On first down on those drives they ran eight times and passed twice.

What made the run-first, run-of­ten ap­proach stand out even more is that every­one in the sta­dium knew coach Mike McCarthy was go­ing to run the ball on a lot of those plays, but they still worked. These weren’t spread-the-field run calls; it was power foot­ball. A lot of the credit goes to the of­fen­sive line, which was miss­ing only one starter (Bryan Bu­laga) rather than the usual two or three.

But Wil­liams was a big fac­tor, too. Though he’s not a huge back (213 pounds), he’s a phys­i­cal run­ner and seemed to run more ag­gres­sively and freely than he did on his hand­ful of car­ries be­fore this game. His num­bers weren’t im­pres­sive (67 yards, 20 car­ries, 3.4-yard av­er­age) but he picked up some tough yards, looked like a solid one-cut zone run­ner and even dis­played a jump cut he hadn’t shown be­fore on one six­yard run. He also has a good for­ward lean to pick up an ex­tra yard.

Play­ing in that run-ori­ented rhythm, Hund­ley then showed real NFL quar­ter­back abil­ity with his two big throws that won the game.

His 19-yard touch­down to Adams was rem­i­nis­cent of Rodgers.

The way McCarthy called his of­fense Sun­day is a big change from when Rodgers is the quar­ter­back. But it’s the way he has to play to give his team a chance to win as he de­vel­ops Hund­ley.

Run stuffers

Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark have been main­stays against the run all sea­son and were a huge rea­son the Pack­ers beat the Bears.

Chicago’s of­fense is built en­tirely around run­ning back Jor­dan Howard, who came into the game as the NFL’s fifth-ranked rusher. The Pack­ers held him to only 54 yards on 15 car­ries (3.6yard av­er­age).

Daniels (five tack­les), Clark (three tack­les) and for that mat­ter Dean Lowry (two tack­les) played a ma­jor role in shut­ting down Howard for most of the day.

Ex­tra points

Nick Perry’s his­tory is that he’s a much dif­fer­ent and bet­ter player when he doesn’t have a pro­tec­tive club on his hand, and we’ll see over the next few weeks if that holds true again.

Perry had surgery on his hand in Septem­ber and fi­nally was able to play with­out the pro­tec­tive cast in the pre­vi­ous game, against Detroit. He had half a sack against the Lions but came back against Chicago with one of the most pro­duc­tive games in his ca­reer: three tack­les for a loss (six tack­les to­tal) and three sacks.

How­ever, Bears quar­ter­back Mitch Tru­bisky de­serves his share of the re­spon­si­bil­ity of those sacks. On two of them he held the ball way too long, and on the third he ba­si­cally ran into the sack by bolt­ing the pocket up the mid­dle rather than just step­ping up and throw­ing.

Grade card

Quar­ter­back: In his third NFL start, Brett Hund­ley (110.8 rat­ing) took care of the ball (no in­ter­cep­tions for the sec­ond straight week) and dis­played a lit­tle bet­ter pocket pres­ence. Grade: C+

Of­fen­sive line: Left tackle David Bakhtiari clearly is get­ting health­ier, based on his strong game. The line kept Hund­ley clean most of the day, and power blocked well in the run game. Grade: B

Run­ning back: Ja­maal Wil­liams (67 yards on 20 car­ries) didn’t put up eye­catch­ing num­bers but kept the run game churn­ing af­ter Aaron Jones (knee) and Ty Mont­gomery (ribs) went down. Grade: BWide re­ceivers: Da­vante Adams had two big catches late, but he also had an easy drop. Jordy Nel­son had a big block on Mont­gomery’s 37-yard touch­down run. Ran­dall Cobb turned a short slant into a 38-yard gain but was caught from be­hind by a line­backer. Grade: B-mi­nus

Tight ends: Lance Ken­dricks and Richard Rodgers had only one catch each (17 yards com­bined) and were shaky as run block­ers. Grade: CDe­fen­sive line: Mike Daniels had a sack and five tack­les, and Kenny Clark was dis­rup­tive in the run game again. Grade: ALineback­ers: Nick Perry (three sacks, three TFLs) was one of the stars of the game, but this group has yet to solve the screen pass. C+

Cor­ner­backs: Davon House had a sack, but the group had no in­ter­cep­tions against rookie quar­ter­back Mitch Tru­bisky. Grade: C

Safeties: Josh Jones was a lit­tle reck­less but fine play­ing in place of in­jured Mor­gan Bur­nett. Grade: C

Special teams: Trevor Davis caught and re­turned a punt from the end zone, Justin Vogel dropped a snap on a field goal and Davis had a punt re­turn of 44 yards wiped out by a Joe Thomas penalty. Grade: D+


Run­ning back Ja­maal Wil­iams helped bring out the best of Brett Hund­ley.

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