Learning how to get along with Hundley
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.
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.
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.
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.