Hey, Packers fans. Ryan Wood here. Packers entering their bye this week, one game before their season's midway point. Let's get to your questions.
The defense was a disappointment in the second half. It was unable to build off the early interceptions. Once Drew Brees got into his rhythm, the Packers were back on their heels. But, and this is important, the Packers did not lose Sunday's game because of defense. Another way to put that: the Packers defense played well enough to win with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, not with Brett Hundley. That's probably going to be the story of their season. It'll have to play better with a backup quarterback. Of course, it won't be going against Drew Brees every week.
I still don't think that's necessary. Hundley, to me, still gives the Packers their best chance to win. There were some promising moments yesterday. He's clearly athletic enough to make plays with his legs, which can move the chains. He just can't go 12-for-25. Part of his low completion percentage was throwaways, but Hundley wasn't consistently accurate. He missed two throws to Jordy Nelson in the first half: underthrowing Nelson deep for what could've been a touchdown, and sailing a back-shoulder throw wide out of bounds. He also sailed an important dumpoff to Aaron Jones before halftime that might've gotten the Packers into field goal range. Maybe Hundley's accuracy improves as he gets more comfortable going forward. If it does, he'll be a better passer, and that could be dangerous with his athleticism.
That's what the Packers did: short, quick, high-percentage passes. He just didn't complete a very high percentage. Frankly, I was fine with Mike McCarthy's game plan, more than most. This is a quarterback who tossed three interceptions the previous week in Minnesota. When Hundley did drive the ball downfield yesterday, he wasn't consistently accurate. As for the defense, there's a glaring hole on the edge. The Packers need a young, disruptive pass rusher. Should be their top priority in next year's draft. That would take care of a lot of problems.
There's a lot there, Greg. I'll try to get to it all. Nick Perry had a sack yesterday. Mike Daniels has said his hip isn't an issue, and he played pretty well yesterday as well. Safeties coach Darren Perry kinda offered last week Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is playing with something, but it isn't severe enough for him to miss practice or games, or even be on the injury report. As for corner, Kevin King had a rough day yesterday, but he's still their top CB moving forward. Probably Damarious Randall is playing best right now. He's got three straight picks since being sent to the locker room against Chicago.
Brett Hundley was a fifth-round quarterback for a reason. Let''s not get lost and start thinking he should be a first or second rounder. It's going to be tough sledding without Aaron Rodgers. No, that doesn't mean you fire the coach.
The press is objective and measured, which I understand can be frustrating for hot-headed fans. But it's important in order to place things in proper context. Case in point: Mike McCarthy was so "stubborn-stupid" with Ty Montgomery being his running back that he's ditched that plan and made Aaron Jones the starter with 17 carries yesterday? That doesn't make any sense.
I think it's an exaggeration to say Brett Hundley was terrible. He needs to complete better than 50 percent of his passes, but he played clean football until the end. He didn't lose the game for the Packers, which he could have. He just didn't win the game either. In reality, it was also going to be hard for Hundley to beat an opponent led by a Hall of Fame quarterback in his first start. If the Packers hadn't been competitive, that would have been a real problem.
I think there's fair criticism that Ted Thompson's drafts on the defensive side haven't been good enough. Now, I think he did well with Kevin King and Josh Jones, and who knows what Montravius Adams and Vince Biegel can do long term. But there have been too many misses, especially at the top of the 2012 and 2015 drafts. There are some hits too before this year, like Kenny Clark and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Another issue, I think, was how slow Thompson was to putting speed on the field, especially in middle coverage. Josh Jones should help in that area. But, no, I'm not going to say a GM whose team has been to eight straight playoffs, and currently has a winning record on this season, should be fired.
One thing Brett Hundley does well is keep his eyes downfield instead of on the rush. He showed that several times yesterday. But he struggles to scan the field as he rolls to the sideline, almost always holding the football until he gets there. It closes throwing windows and allows defenders to adjust in coverage.
They're not going to possibly throw the season away because of Hundley. It's because Aaron Rodgers probably isn't coming back. Outside New England, no team in the NFL loses a franchise quarterback without becoming drastically worse. No, Tony Romo isn't changing that. As for Adams and Biegel, Adams has been a healthy scratch lately. The defensive line has played well, so there hasn't been need to rush him along. Biegel is still on PUP and has two more game weeks to be activated.
They'll scan the market to see what's available, no different than any other position, but it's extremely unlikely the Packers move on from Hundley. He gives them the best chance to win.
Games are not won or lost with yards and first downs. They're won or lost with points. The Packers holding Drew Brees under 30 inside Lambeau Field would've been enough to win with Aaron Rodgers. (Seriously, I think Rodgers drops 42 on that Saints defense.) It was not enough to win with Brett Hundley.
Mike McCarthy has always said any conversation about playoff eligibility starts with getting 10 wins. If they want to feel good about their chances, they need to be 10-6. But it's possible, if not likely, 9-7 would keep them in the hunt.
After Rodgers went down, I thought there were three games the Packers should win (yesterday wasn't one of them): at Chicago, vs. Baltimore and at Cleveland. Some of my colleagues have said the Packers should win against Tampa Bay, and that's certainly doable. So right there would be four wins, putting them 8-8. Can they steal another win or two? Maybe against Detroit coming off the bye? Maybe home against Minnesota? Maybe. But no gain is guaranteed at this point, and outside Chicago, Baltimore, Cleveland and perhaps Tampa Bay, I wouldn't expect the Packers to be favored.
Well if you can't agree, you can't agree. I'm just here to call it like I see it. As I said to start this chat, the defense was a disappointment in the second half. Seventeen points against a terrible Saints defense is why the Packers lost.
Thought the Packers defense tackled better Sunday than in Minnesota. Not that it would've been possible for them to tackle worse. It was pretty dreadful in Minnesota.
Bottom line is I'm not going to rip the defense for giving up points to Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Dak Prescott. If they get torched by Mitch Trubisky, Joe Flacco and Cleveland, three opponents coming up on their schedule, that would be entirely different. That can not happen. But Brees, Ryan and Prescott? The best quarterbacks in the NFL score points.
There's no doubt watching the game that McCarthy wanted to help his quarterback play clean football. Guess what... it worked. Hundley could've made a mess of things, not unlike what we saw in Minnesota. That's why I didn't take much issue with the conservative play calling.
It might have cost them a Super Bowl trip last season. You can't say that about 2014. With the rest of the league outside New England dreaming about getting to the conference championship game, because that puts them on the doorstep of the Super Bowl, I can understand why the Packers did not fire Ted Thompson.
Better accuracy can come with more comfort in the pocket, something Mike McCarthy said he did a poor job of with Hundley yesterday. There's a chance he'll become more accurate throwing downfield, just as we could see fewer throwaways. If that doesn't improve by, say, a month from now, it's a big problem.