I missed the Aaron Rodgers injury live. We’re desperately trying to move into our new house before baby #2 arrives at the end of the year, but we’ve got a lot of work to do. So while Rodgers was being driven into the ground by Anthony Barr, I was framing a wall at the new house for a walk-in closet. I showed up to my friend’s house, hoping to walk in the door to news of a big Packers lead. Instead, I was met with sullen faces and the news of the Rodgers injury.

I felt like the wind was knocked out of me. Not only because of what this injury potentially meant for the rest of the season, but because I knew I would be driving 8+ hours this weekend to see the Packers/Saints game in Lambeau. I was excited to see Rodgers, slightly less so to see Hundley.

I’ve since recovered a bit and am now getting pretty excited. I love Brett Hundley and am excited to see what he’s going to do. As a wise man once said, “Ride or die.” I will ride or die with Brett Hundley, and I will be seeing his first-ever regular season start. Things could be better, but they could also be a whole lot worse.

Just to warn you in advance, I have had zero time to work on this article this week, so you’ll be getting an abbreviated version. Apologies. If you want some quick-hitting gifs with much less analysis, hit my film study handle on Twitter.

Let’s get to the film.

I wrote about Brett Hundley’s second interception in this week’s One Big Play. You can read that here. I’m really happy with how this came out, so please check it out if you get a chance. I learned a lot while writing it, so I hope you learn a little something by reading it.

The Bad

Here is Brett Hundley’s [7] first interception. This play comes on 3rd and 2, and the Vikings are looking for something like this.

Geronimo Allison [81] goes in motion before the snap. He ends up in the same spot as he did when he started – left slot to backfield, back to left slot – but Mackensie Alexander [20] follows him, signaling man-to-man coverage.

The Packers are running a slant/flat combo to the left, with Allison running to the flat under the slant from Davante Adams [17]. As I’ve mentioned many times here recently, one of the goals of this combo is to create a natural rub. Since the Vikings showed man coverage, Hundley is banking on Adams knocking Alexander off his coverage.

There are a few problems here:
1. Alexander is able to get under the rub from Adams, sticking with his coverage on Allison.
2. Hundley stares down Allison and throws the ball to Allison as Alexander is slipping under Adams.
3. Hundley throws the ball inside, directly into the path of Alexander. The ball gets tipped up and Xavier Rhodes [29] comes down with a nice interception.

It’s unlikely this would have ended in a first down anyway, but throwing this ball inside is the real killer.

The Good

Just watch Blake Martinez [50] on this play. The Vikings are running a drag/dig combo off the right side, looking to clear space for Jerick McKinnon [21] underneath. Martinez starts this play in the middle. He sees the drag coming at him and is able to step underneath Quinten Rollins [24], keeping his eyes on McKinnon the entire time. When the ball goes to McKinnon, Martinez doesn’t immediately attack. It’s 3rd and 6, so he just needs to make sure McKinnon doesn’t get past him. He cuts off escape to the inside with his initial rush, pinning McKinnon to the sideline. At that point, he just stays in front of McKinnon. He doesn’t bite on any moves; he just waits for McKinnon to declare his path and makes the tackle.

Great play from Martinez. He has taken huge steps forward this season.

It’s worth noting that the checkdown goes to McKinnon in part because everyone else is covered. Good defense across the board on this play.

Speaking of Blake Martinez [50], watch him here on this 2nd quarter interception. He drops back into his initial zone, but he’s reading Case Keenum [7] the entire time. Watch how he reacts when Keenum looks back over to his right. Martinez slides over a few steps, under the slant from Michael Floyd [18]. Keenum never sees Martinez. Martinez leaps up and tips the ball, knocking it up in the air and allowing Damarious Randall [23] to come up with an easy interception.

Kenny Clark [97] is quickly turning into a monster. He starts this play slightly offset from Pat Eflein [65].  Elflein is able to get Clark moving to his left. Clark trips over the foot of Joe Berger [61] and goes down to two knees. But even when Clark is down, he’s never truly down. He slides, turns his body and gets inside leverage on Elflein, getting in on the tackle of Latavius Murray [25]. This is an incredible play from Clark.

Here’s another gem from Clark. He starts this play in the middle of the line and gets double-teamed immediately. He is taken down to a knee, but he keeps his head up and is able to reach through his would-be blockers to punch the ball out of the hands of Jerick McKinnon [21]. Here it is from another angle.

This guy is going to be something special.

More Clark. Sets up on the right side of the line. Jeremiah Sirles [75] jumps out to block Clark, and Clark hits him with a quick swim move. With his target suddenly missing, Sirles goes flying, never to be heard from again.

That move quickly puts Clark in the backfield, where he and Lenzy Pipkins [41] stack up Latavius Murray [25] in the backfield. This is great recognition by Clark to see the block of Sirles coming and to counter it.

Also, please notice Mike Daniels [76], taking an initial shove, standing tall, reading the blocks and attacking Murray in the backfield, comically jumping over the top.

Before we move on, please take a look at Kyler Fackrell [51] getting absolutely zero push and getting pancaked by Riley Reiff [71] with an assist from the fallen Sirles.
Hey everyone. Fackrell isn’t very good. But at least he’s only 26 years old in his second year. Guys tend to get more athletic as they age, right?

Before we move to the offense, I just wanted to look at one more play from Mike Daniels [76]. His initial rush is turned back and the center comes over to double-team him. So he takes a step back, resets and shoots the gap between the two linemen. He doesn’t pick up a sack here, but he’s able to hit Case Keenum [7] just as he appears to be loading up for a shot downfield. Keenum has the presence of mind to throw to his right, but the throw never has a chance of hitting its intended target. Great individual effort from Daniels here.

Here is Brett Hundley’s [7] first career touchdown pass. It’s a good one. Facing 3rd and 6 on the Vikings 15, the pocket was pushed back into his face pretty quickly, forcing him to step a little sooner than he would like. His first read is to Jordy Nelson [87] on the outside, but he doesn’t like what he sees on that side so he pulls down the ball. While he’s looking for his second read, he escapes through the middle, pulling Anthony Barr [55] from his wide drop in the middle. Barr vacating his zone allows a lane to hit Davante Adams [17] on his crossing route. Hundley sees him and releases a quick, cross-body pass. Adams gets the ball, turns upfield, sees Anthony Harris [41] in the middle and cuts outside for a touchdown.

Hundley doesn’t panic. He starts his progressions, steps up when he needs to and makes a terrific pass.

Something to pay attention to: watch Hundley’s feet. He gets to the top of his drop and is in a perfect position to throw to his first read. When that isn’t there, he pivots on that back foot and bounces to his second read. He has to escape before fully setting up, but that’s good footwork when going through reads. He puts himself in a position to throw quickly if he needs to.

Here’s the touchdown from another angle. To repeat, his first read is to Nelson at the top. You can see why he made the decision to pull this ball down rather than throw it. Nelson is running a curl, so Hundley is looking to get this ball out quick. Before he releases, he sees Trae Waynes [26] on Nelson’s hip, ready to jump the route.

Hundley appeared ready to release this ball on time to the outside, but he wisely pulled it down once he saw the coverage. Good decision from Hundley on this.

Another play where the pocket breaks down, another good decision from Brett Hundley [7]. It doesn’t result in a touchdown, but that’s not on Hundley.

Hundley’s first read is to his left. We’ll look at the wider shot in a second, so I’ll get into that. For now, just know that there are two routes to that side and neither of them are open. Hundley is looking that direction during his drop and is in a perfect position to throw at the top of his drop. His first read to that side isn’t open, so he quickly bounces to his second read, who is also not open. His third read is Ty Montgomery [88] in the middle, but, once again, the pocket is breaking down. He knows he is about to be hit, but he doesn’t panic. He finds Montgomery getting past the hook of Eric Kendricks [54] and releasing to the middle of the field. He throws a bullet over the head of Anthony Barr [55]. Montgomery grabs the ball, spins, and dives for the end zone, but he never has control. Instead of a touchdown on 3rd and 8, the Packers are forced to kick a field goal, making the score 14-10.

Here it is from another angle. Jordy Nelson [87] is running a fade at the top while Martellus Bennett [80] is running in the flat off the end of the line. Hundley’s first read is to Nelson, and his second read is to Bennett. If you look at his feet from the first one, you can see how he subtly sets himself up to throw to Bennett as the second read on this. He’s able to read two receivers by looking to his left, but his feet need to be a slightly different position depending on the read. Great job by Hundley to go through his reads and tie his reads to his footwork.

With 6:47 remaining in the game, the Packers faced 4th and 4 at their own 40, down by a score of 23-10. On the left side, the Packers are running dual outs at the sticks with Jordy Nelson [87] and Martellus Bennett [80] with Randall Cobb [18] running a go route on the outside. The go route is intended to remove the defender from the sideline area, giving Nelson a hole to run to. Nelson moves to that vacated area while Bennett runs to the area vacated by the route of Nelson.

Brett Hundley’s [7] first read is to Nelson and he sees what he is hoping to see. Harrison Smith [22] is opposite Nelson, playing 5 yards off the line of scrimmage. Nelson is quick out of his cut, putting Smith on his inside hip. Hundley releases this ball on time and to the outside where Smith can’t get to it. Nelson catches the ball and turns upfield to pick up the first down.

Once again, let’s look at Hundley’s footwork. He hits that back foot and he’s in position to throw to Nelson. On this route, that ball needs to come out quickly, and Hundley does it perfectly here.

One more look at the footwork of Brett Hundley [7] before we get out of here. He quickly scans the field from left-to-right while dropping. He sees Randall Cobb [18] with inside position on Mackensie Alexander [20] while Jordy Nelson [87] pulls Eric Kendricks [54] out of the middle. Hundley plants his back foot and fires a rocket to Cobb, splitting Alexander and Kendricks and hitting Cobb in stride. Great read to see the situation in the middle and a tremendous throw to sneak the ball to Cobb.

He made mistakes in this game, but I’m excited to see what Hundley can do.

Random Thoughts

  • This weekend I get to catch a Packers game at Lambeau, meet up with my Pack to the Future peeps and attend a Bloody Good Horror meet-up. To say I’m excited about this weekend would be an extreme understatement.

Brett Hundley performed well in the middle quarters, but his two interceptions in the 4th doesn’t look great.

Being outperformed by Case Keenum on both Deep and Short passes isn’t great, but I’m willing to give Hundley a pass since he was forced into action. I think we’ll see better numbers from him going forward.

Randall Cobb was only targeted 3 times, but he caught all 3 passes for 28 yards.

Hey look. A Vikings QB who loves to check down to the running back. I, for one, am shocked.

Going to Jordy Nelson to the Short Left portion of the field seems to be a pretty good move. He was targeted 6 times in that zone, catching 4 passes for 25 yards.

Albums listened to: The Tallest Man On Earth – Dark Bird is Home; Miraculous Mule – Two Tonne Testimony; Kane Strang – Two Hearts and No Brain;