PETE DOUGHERTY

Packer Plus - - Analysis - PETE DOUGHERTY Pete Dougherty is a colum­nist for the Green Bay Press-Gazette

It’s sink or swim with Brett Hund­ley

Count me in the camp that thought quar­ter­back Brett Hund­ley and head coach Mike McCarthy would do bet­ter than this.

Even with an ex­tra week to pre­pare for Hund­ley’s sec­ond start in place of in­jured Aaron Rodgers, their per­for­mance Mon­day night was about as unin­spir­ing as it gets in the Green Bay Pack­ers’ 30-17 loss to the De­troit Lions at Lam­beau Field.

Ane­mic. Im­po­tent. You pick the ad­jec­tive. The Pack­ers’ of­fense was it un­til De­troit pretty much had the game in hand.

But here’s the thing: There’s no cavalry com­ing. The trade dead­line has passed, so there’s no bring­ing in a quar­ter­back from an­other team.

And any­one think­ing things would be any bet­ter with Colin Kaeper­nick or some­body else off the street is delu­sional.

So it’s Hund­ley, sink or swim. No won­der McCarthy gave him an­other full-throated en­dorse­ment af­ter the thirdyear QB put up an 86.0 rat­ing and only three points in the first 51 min­utes of the game.

“I be­lieve in Brett and that’s not just a press con­fer­ence state­ment,” McCarthy said. “He’s got what it takes. He has it in his body, he has it in his mind, and he def­i­nitely has the heart. I be­lieve in him.”

The last time McCarthy and gen­eral man­ager Ted Thomp­son were in this po­si­tion, in 2013, they went out and got Matt Flynn off the street. That move saved the sea­son. Those cir­cum­stances were al­most ex­actly the same as now, only dif­fer­ent.

Like now, the Pack­ers in 2013 had lost the game in which Aaron Rodgers broke his col­lar­bone and then the next two af­ter that. Same for this year.

But in 2013, Flynn was out there as a fall­back when Seneca Wal­lace got hurt and Scott Tolzien couldn’t get it done. The Flynn sign­ing worked – the Pack­ers went 2-2-1 in the games he fin­ished and still were in the play­off hunt when Rodgers re­turned – for one rea­son, and one rea­son alone: McCarthy and Flynn had worked to­gether be­fore, for four years, from 2008-’11. McCarthy knew Flynn’s game, and Flynn knew McCarthy’s of­fense. That gave them a fight­ing chance.

There are no Matt Flynns out there for McCarthy now. The clos­est thing is Brett Favre, who is 48 and seven years re­moved from his last NFL game. That’s a non-starter.

Ac­tu­ally, Flynn might be the clos­est thing to Flynn. He’s 32 now, not an­cient, but hasn’t played in an NFL game since 2014 and hasn’t been on a team since ’15. Has he even stayed in shape? I sup­pose it might be worth a call, but it’s still a long shot.

I’m sure na­tional pun­dits and some Pack­ers fans will be clam­or­ing for Kaeper­nick. They’ll point to a cou­ple of his 2016 stats — 16-to-4 touch­down-to-in­ter­cep­tion dif­fer­en­tial and 90.7 passer — and in­sist he’d be an up­grade. But re­ally?

Don’t for­get, Kaeper­nick also was 1-10 as a starter with San Fran­cisco in ’16. The 49ers av­er­aged only 18 points in the games he started. So while he wasn’t turn­ing the ball over, he wasn’t do­ing any­thing to win games. And that was with the team he’d played his en­tire ca­reer. What chance would he have com­ing in at mid-sea­son to a new coach and new team?

Kaeper­nick’s faster and a lit­tle stronger armed than Hund­ley. But he’s not that dif­fer­ent a player. The ques­tion on both is whether they can make the quick reads and have the quick re­ac­tions that it takes to suc­ceed at quar­ter­back in the NFL. That hasn’t changed since Kaeper­nick has been out of the league.

So bring him in, don’t bring him in. It’s not go­ing to make any dif­fer­ence. He and McCarthy have never worked to­gether. By the time Kaeper­nick learned McCarthy’s of­fense, and McCarthy learned Kaeper­nick’s game, the sea­son would be over.

More than any­thing, Hund­ley’s strug­gles highlight the big mis­take Thomp­son made when he gam­bled and cut un­drafted rookie quar­ter­back Taysom Hill in train­ing camp. Thomp­son thought he could sneak Hill through to the prac­tice squad, but the New Or­leans Saints had other ideas.

So now Hill is the Saints’ No. 3. He might have been the most phys­i­cally tal­ented of all the Pack­ers’ back­ups in train­ing camp. He has size, a stronger than av­er­age arm and ran a 4.46-sec­ond 40. He was over-aged for a rookie (27 now) and had a trou­bling in­jury his­tory. But he had tal­ent to work with. I guar­an­tee the Pack­ers wish they had him now, as an op­tion in case Hund­ley doesn’t pick up his play in the next cou­ple weeks.

But they don’t have Hill. And they don’t have many op­tions af­ter Hund­ley. Joe Cal­la­han is next on the depth chart, but if it comes to him, that’s when you look to the street.

So they’ll give Hund­ley a cou­ple more weeks to see if he can find a way to keep them in the play­off hunt. For most of Mon­day the of­fense strug­gled, but he did move the team when they went to their two-minute of­fense in the fourth quar­ter. De­troit no doubt had backed off, too. But he did move the ball and put up two touch­downs.

He’s also go­ing to need some help. Co­or­di­na­tor Dom Ca­pers’ de­fense came up with only one turnover and couldn’t get off the field against a sharp Matthew Stafford (132.4 rat­ing). It’s tough to beat any­body that con­verts eight of 13 third downs.

But at this point, the Pack­ers don’t have much for op­tions on the of­fen­sive side of the ball. So they have to ride out this storm and hope McCarthy and Hund­ley find a way to keep their ship afloat.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Green Bay Pack­ers head coach Mike McCarthy talks to quar­ter­back Brett Hund­ley dur­ing the first half on Mon­day night. Hund­ley will try to keep the Pack­ers in con­tention next week against the Bears.

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