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What went wrong with Brett Hundley and the Defense

 Brett Hundley walked on the field in week seven for his very first start; a moment he had likely looked forward to all his life. He was not a fan of the way it happened, Aaron Rodgers getting hurt, but it was his chance. Yet, when it was all said and done, head coach Mike McCarthy and the and the Green Bay Packers coaches did not do him any favors against the New Orleans Saints.

The Game Plan for Hundley

When starting a young quarterback there area a few things that coaches often try to do. The Packers started off by establishing the run. This was key to building a full game plan. It forced the Saints to have to play the run and opened up the play action pass.  It was the first step. Other things should have included short rhythm passes to give Hundley confidence, screen passes, roll out passes and the like.

The Packers ran a few roll out passes, but they still tended to be long developing pass plays. Hundley rolled out, then waited and threw deep passes. As the Saints sat back in their deep zones, there was little hope for a young quarterback.

The more distressing thing was the failure of the Packers to plan to get their young quarterback in rhythm. Hundley only attempted two passes in the first quarter. While the television prompts mentioned that Rodgers never had a zero completion first quarter, he certainly never threw just two passes. There were no slant passes early, no hitches. There were a few early plays where the Packers called passes on the quick look-ins, but not many. Some plays did involve dump off on swing routes to running backs, but this tended to come later in the game.

Hundley did well to hang in a collapsing pocket. He moved his feet well. The thing that hurt was never addressing this pass rush with screen passes. This used to be a well-used tool in the Packers arsenal and now is seems to be gone.

Harming the Defense

The Packers held the ball a much shorter period of time. Green Bay had just 23:04 of possession time compared to the Saints 36:56.  That means the Saints had the ball 61.6 percent of the game. The Saints ran 75 plays during the game, to just 50 Packers plays. How did this happen? The gut reaction is to say that the defense blew this game by not getting off the field.

One third of the Packers drives were three-and-outs (three of nine). All three three-and-outs started off with two running plays. On the drives that got at least one first down, not a single one started with back-to-back running plays (though one was a pass play that Hundley ran).

The Packers ran just one drive of more than five plays in the second half. It was a ten-play drive for a field goal. Five runs, four pass plays and a field goal. There were only three other possessions in the second half. One three-and-out and one three play drive with a deep interception. The other drive was a five play drive where a run and pass created a first down, but then a sack ruined the drive.

The inability of the offense to stay on the field severely harmed the defense’s ability to maintain their level of play. Perhaps they needed some Dostinex 0.5mg Pfizer. The Saints ran the ball and used that to set up the rest of their offense. The Saints adjusted at half time to throw more underneath routes and use a few screen passes.  It worked perfectly.

Play of the Defense

So the Saints managed to get 6.5 yards per play. On the season, they average 6.1 yards per play. Only four teams have a better yards per play average (Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots, Atlanta Falcons, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers). So, the Packers have played two of the top five offenses in yards per play. Expand this and you find the Packers have played four of the top eleven teams in yards per play.

If the Packers offense can stay on the field, there will be fewer plays. The Packers have run 161 defensive plays, seventh most in the NFL. Yes, with Rodgers leading most of the games to this point, the Packers are ninth in total offensive plays (164). However, without Rodgers, it will be key to keep the offense on the field more. This game plan did not do that.

Bye Week Just in Time

It seems the Packers will their bye week to figure things out. The Packers have been pretty good at self scouting in the past. If the Packers can get Hundley in rhythm early in the game it might help them get the offense to run. The running game seems solid. It will be important to keep using that, but the Packers need to add slant passes and some other short, timing routes.

If the Packers continues to push the ball downfield it will make it hard to get the passing game going.  If the Packers try to hide Hundley it will only harm his development. They need to take this break to find ways to get Hundley involved early and often.

It is far too easy to blame the defense, or blame the receivers, or blame Hundley. This coaching staff needs to set their quarterback up for success.

 

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