Brett Hundley 'wasn't ready,' but Packers still 'believe in' backup QB

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Of all the disappointments that befell the Green Bay Packers in 2017, Brett Hundley's struggles as Aaron Rodgers' injury replacement has to rank near the top.

Especially after how emphatic head coach Mike McCarthy was that Hundley was the right quarterback for the job after Rodgers broke his collarbone on Oct. 15 against the Minnesota Vikings.

“Brett Hundley wasn’t ready for what he needed to be ready for,” McCarthy said Wednesday at the NFL scouting combine. “That’s something that we have to learn from, and that stings.”

That showed up early on when Hundley threw three interceptions in relief at Minnesota and then came back the next week and threw for just 87 yards in his first start against the New Orleans Saints. The bye week followed and then another loss at home to the Detroit Lions before Hundley's first win, at the Chicago Bears.

Hundley won only three of his nine starts, did not throw a touchdown pass at home and was part of two shutouts at Lambeau Field.

Although he kept the Packers alive in the playoff race to make Rodgers’ return in Week 15 meaningful thanks to a pair of overtime wins against the Cleveland Browns and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he struggled again in the final two regular-season games after Rodgers returned to injured reserve.

“That’s something that we should’ve been better prepared for, and I say ‘we’ because it’s not just on Brett,” McCarthy said. “But in the same breath, there wasn’t enough step-up around him, either. It was just one guy. I think that’s the first thing, stating the true evaluation of what went on. Secondly, I look at that position no different than any other, we can’t have enough competition. We need to increase the competition in our training environment.”

Hundley’s lack of development could have been a factor in the change at quarterbacks coach from Alex Van Pelt to Frank Cignetti Jr.

“I believe in Brett Hundley,” McCarthy said. “I do fully recognize that he has a lot of football in front of him. He has a big upside. Our structure and our coaching staff, we need to make sure we maximize that, but we also need to learn from the other parts of the offense that we didn’t do as good as we would have liked, and we’ll learn from that platform. I do believe Brett has a big upside, and looking forward to getting back to work with him.”

Hundley, a fifth-round pick in 2015, has one more season left on his rookie contract. The Packers almost certainly will have to think about drafting a quarterback, and new general manager Brian Gutekunst might also have to sign a veteran free agent to protect them in case disaster strikes Rodgers again.

Gutekunst need only look at the NFC Championship Game participants to see the value of a veteran backup quarterback after the Philadelphia Eagles got there with Nick Foles and the Vikings with Case Keenum.

“I don’t know if what they did changes the way we look at it, but I think it’s very important,” Gutekunst said. “We’re lucky to have Brett in a backup role. He’s been in our system for a number of years now, so it’s significantly important. But I don’t know if what they accomplished really changes our outlook on it.

“It’s about opportunities, whether it be in free agency or through the draft. Who becomes available? You look at all avenues. You always want to create competition at every spot.”