GREEN BAY – With 2 minutes, 56 seconds remaining in Saturday’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings, quarterback Brett Hundley jogged onto the field for his 12th possession of the night. His team, the Green Bay Packers, trailed 16-0 in a game that already was over against a defense he had no chance of solving.
If ever there was a moment to make a change at quarterback, that meaningless drive would have been it.
Instead, coach Mike McCarthy clung to his steadfast support of Hundley, who in eight starts has done little to show he can win games against quality opponents. To him, the idea of inserting Joe Callahan, a former Division III quarterback, wasn’t an idea at all.
“Not sure why you’d want to pull the quarterback,” McCarthy said during a Monday news conference. “There’s a lot more going on than just the quarterback. My critique of what was going on in the game, I thought he competed at a very high level. That’s important. We should have had the ball ran a few more times, if we’re being critical.
“But really, I look at the interception in the red zone, (and outside of that) our issues were more with other positions. I felt the dropped balls were a big part of our inability to continue drives, because a number of them were either big-play opportunities or first downs. I don’t know how you put that all on your quarterback.”
Collectively, the Packers’ skill players dropped seven passes. The offenders ranged from rookie tailback Jamaal Williams, who could not handle a check-down, to veteran Jordy Nelson, who saw the ball clang of his hands more than once. Tight end Lance Kendricks joined the party, as did rookie wide receiver Michael Clark.
Perhaps the game plays out differently if some of those passes are caught, but at this point the obfuscation of Hundley’s flaws appears blatant, almost like a party line. Whether it was his miserable deep-ball accuracy or head-scratching decision-making outside the pocket, Hundley remains unreliable at best. At times it feels like his strong work ethic might have the coaches fooled.
“I did not lose confidence in Brett during the course of the game,” McCarthy said. “Obviously, I’m right in the middle of what he’s experiencing. You lose Richard Rodgers, all your two-tight-end offense goes out the window. That could have helped us there, particularly they were fitting their force with their safeties and so forth in the run game and the things you can do off that. Every game has challenges, no excuse. But he had to play uphill in some spots. But I was not considering a change. It never crossed my mind.
“He was challenged, needed to play better. Probably one of his lowest grades of this year. But there’s a lot more going on around him.”
Hundley will have one more chance to redeem himself in Detroit next week.
R-E-L-A-X: A moment of panic radiated through social media Sunday when a report from ESPN said the Packers had violated a league rule by placing Aaron Rodgers on injured reserve (collarbone) last week.
“NFL rules stipulate that a player needs to have suffered a new injury that would sideline him at least six weeks to be placed on injured reserve,” the report says. “If that is not the case, the team is obligated to release the player once he is healthy.
“If Rodgers didn’t suffer a new injury but was placed back on injured reserve anyway, NFL rules stipulate that the Packers would have to release him — which nobody expects will happen. It is why multiple teams raised the issue. Teams wanted to know why the Packers were being granted immunity.”
McCarthy told reporters that Rodgers was sore after his return from IR against the Carolina Panthers. The fact he said nothing of a new injury, or at the very least a setback with the collarbone, drew the ire of teams around the league.
The Packers, however, are not concerned.
“Frankly, I don’t see any issue with Aaron Rodgers going on IR,” McCarthy said. “My understanding is we communicated, followed the procedures and guidelines that you have to, to put a player on IR. So, from our perspective, there’s no issue.”
Injury report: The Packers lost several key players due to injury Saturday, and McCarthy offered updates on some of them.
On right tackle Jason Spriggs (knee): “A serious injury. When he gets back here Wednesday, we’ll probably talk about the potential of him going through the procedures and following the rules to put a player on IR.”
On tailback Aaron Jones (knee): “Similar injury (to his torn MCL earlier this year). The opposite knee.”
On wide receiver Jordy Nelson (shoulder) and tight end Richard Rodgers (shoulder): “Jordy and Richard are going through the process of scans and so forth. … They’re still being looked at.”
On cornerback Damarious Randall (knee), who was inactive: “He has a knee. He was dealing with it all week and was not cleared by the medical staff.”