Hundley quickly learning Packers' offense
Brett Hundley started reading even before he arrived in Green Bay. And he hasn't stopped.
For more than a month now, the Green Bay Packers rookie quarterback has had his nose in the playbook, a "football nerd" soaking up every piece of knowledge he can find.
Of course players are supposed to learn the playbook. It's what they get paid to do. But Hundley's urgency is revealing.
With no clear path to the field, the fifth-round draft choice doesn't care if he's stuck in Aaron Rodgers' MVP-sized shadow. He still wants to learn.
"I hate not knowing something," Hundley said sternly. "That's the easiest way to put it. So when they threw the playbook at me, and they told me to go out on the first day, if I didn't know it I'd get pissed. So I like studying, and I like knowing things like the back of my hand. As much as I can learn up to this point, I have.
"If I don't know it, it's not like I'm going to sit here and throw a Gatorade at the wall, but I'm going to study it until I do know it."
Hundley already has picked up a basic understanding of the offense, he said. That was evident during Tuesday's open organized team activity practice.
On one play in the 2-minute drill, Hundley directed an undrafted receiver where to line up. He then completed an underneath pass to the receiver, checking down when nothing was open deep. It was a simple play, but one that can't be made without knowing the playbook.
Even with a firm foundation, Hundley said there's a long way to go until he has a complete grasp of the offense. The next step, he said, is getting comfortable with all the subtleties of coach Mike McCarthy's hybrid West Coast system.
The general belief is it takes up to three years for most quarterbacks to fully understand the West Coast offense. Hundley looks at the institutional knowledge Rodgers has acquired after spending a full decade in Green Bay and sees how much more there is to learn.
"The West Coast offense," Hundley said, "is a very, very specific offense in terms of how they approach things, and how they attack certain looks and checks and stuff like that. It's different than the spread offense we ran (at UCLA). I can see why — easily why — it takes three years to master it. Being in it for three weeks, let alone three years, I'm trying to do the best that I can to learn it."
Hundley has worked his way in slowly at practice. He's gotten few reps during the team drills that have been open to the public. He also missed two days last week while in Los Angeles for the NFLPA rookie premiere, where Hundley said he learned about the "business" side of the NFL.
Then there's the depth chart. Scott Tolzien is the clear favorite to be Rodgers' primary backup this fall. Hundley is the project.
"He's obviously played a lot of football," Packers quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt said. "I liked his college tape. Once you get him here, you get to see him up close and personal. He's a guy, like Scott, will need some work, and he'll have to put the work in. He's going to have to change some of the things he does in his throwing motion, some of his footwork, as well.
"There's no better example than Scott that you can do that. That was one of the examples we used is, watch this last year, watch what he did from one year to the next year. So you guys can do this.
"He's a talented player. We just need to get him playing in our system with his feet and everything, and how we train the quarterback."
Hundley isn't stressing about a lack of opportunities. He knows the reality of being a fifth-round pick. He'll have to take his reps as they come.
But, Hundley said, he will still study and prepare. He'll keep his urgency. When his shot arrives, Hundley wants to be ready.
"It's coming along," Hundley said. "Like I keep saying, and like the older guys tell me, it's a process. So as a quarterback, to come in and to learn the playbook in a couple weeks, it's hard. It's basically impossible. But you can sort of set yourself up for further success the more you study now. So that's how I sort of approach it."
-- firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @ByRyanWood