GREEN BAY – Brett Hundley didn’t try to make Sunday’s disappointing results sound any better than they were.
He did sound like a young quarterback ready to draw some important distinctions, though. First is the one between dwelling on struggles and learning from them.
“The name of the game is we have to execute,” Hundley said following a shower that wasn’t going to succeed in washing away the frustrations of a 26-17 loss to the Saints.
“Like I keep saying, I didn’t play well enough. We didn’t score enough points to win the game. That’s all that matters.”
That’s all Hundley really cared about as questions were fired at him about whether or not the game plan was too conservative, or if he was being held back in his first pro start. Hundley wasn’t really interested, frankly.
Having gone through the full process of game-planning, practicing, and carrying it to the field on Sunday for the first time, Hundley sounded like he wants to dive into the film study, process what he needs to, and get back at it.
Disappointed is not the same as discouraged, and while the upcoming bye week will be good for a banged-up Packers team that needs to get healthy to give Hundley his best chance, the third-year QB would probably rather play again right away.
Two weeks is a long time to wallow in a 39.9 passer rating and 87 yards through the air, so Hundley’s challenge will be not to.
“The mindset is winning,” Hundley said. “The bye will get our minds away and we’ll come back to it, but we have to win. That’s all I’ve got to say is we just have to win.”
A read-option keeper for a first down, multiple scrambles (including one for a TD), and well-thrown third-down strikes to Geronimo Allison and Jordy Nelson to move the chains give Hundley something to build on, but it wasn’t enough against an offense led by a future Hall of Famer in Drew Brees.
Once the Saints started seizing control of the action, particularly in the fourth quarter, the Packers and Hundley had no counterpunch. That’ll be the next step in what promises to be the ongoing development of Hundley, finding a way to wrestle back the game’s momentum if and when it starts fading away.
If Aaron Jones (17 rushes, 131 yards, TD) continues to run like he did, that’ll help Hundley. So will fewer penalties, which hurt in the field-position game and took away a reasonable shot at a field goal late in the first half. The defense needs to finish more like it started, too.
It’s not all on Hundley, but the scrutiny of his play and his statistics comes with the territory. With Aaron Rodgers having undergone collarbone surgery, a lot of news will swirl around over the next several weeks about whether Rodgers might be able to come back by season’s end.
The Packers have announced no timeline, and there’s just no telling right now where Rodgers’ health will stand in eight weeks when he’ll be first eligible to come off of injured reserve and play in a game again.
That’s just another potential distraction Hundley will have to deal with, but as he said himself, his job is not to worry but to win.
The uplifting moment of running out of the Lambeau Field tunnel to the cheers of 78,380 didn’t carry the day, as the postgame walk back up the tunnel wasn’t nearly as memorable.
Monday night, Nov. 6, against NFC North rival Detroit is Hundley’s next shot. As he spends the next two weeks learning but not dwelling, getting away but not losing focus, pushing but not trying to do too much, the lines he draws for himself will set up where he goes from here.
“As a backup learning here for three years, all I can say is don’t write us off,” Hundley said. “That’s the biggest thing. We have to get better, and we will get better, but we’re not out.”
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