Future HOF? Or Grocery Clerk?

The NFL failed to consult me prior to scheduling Sunday’s game. I therefore had the unique privilege of only watching the 2nd and 3rd quarters. To my surprise when I turned it on, I saw a pretty respectable stat line for our starting QB and a very competitive game. And in the 2 quarters I did see, I saw a QB that seemed to be maturing before my eyes. No, he wasn’t carrying the entire team on his back, he wasn’t throwing balls into Favre-like impossible windows that created miracles on the football field, or outthinking and outclassing the entire league and performing total wizardry and dominance the way Rodgers would have. But, he also wasn’t just a game manager. Yes, we were a predominantly running team, but he was making solid throws, he was creating time in the pocket instead of escaping and just throwing to his first read. He stayed alive, hit the guys he was supposed to hit, didn’t make any stupid mistakes, gave his WRs the the opportunity to get open, and he made big plays. If any other starting QB in the league had his numbers at Pittsburgh and the chance to win it in the end, it would have been considered a pretty respectable showing.

Now, perhaps something happened in the first and fourth quarters that would have drastically changed my perspective on what I saw. I doubt it though. And on Monday morning, when I learned that he fought for the full game, had fantastic stats, and had a chance to win it with a final drive on the road, I felt really happy for him, and wondered if this means he’s turning a corner in his development. And then I heard the fan and commentator analysis of the game. On the big plays, he ‘only’ hit the open guys (Had he missed them or not seen them in the first place, I promise we’d be hearing a different criticism). He couldn’t carry the team. His stats are inflated due to big plays and easily manufactured completions. And finally, why didn’t he win (on the road, in Pittsburgh of all places)????? I really don’t know where to begin, except to say, it was his first game where he experienced significant success, even if not a win. Maybe with a year of playing experience under his belt, you could criticize him for not leading his team on a last second touchdown drive on the road. Under his unique circumstances, I think he should be praised for keeping his team in a position to win a game like that.

For some reason, we all need to know, TODAY, what kind of QB he’s going to be. Or maybe we all need to show how knowledgeable we are and predict for everyone how this is going to work out. And generally, the results are not good in the opinion of most packer fans. Should he bag groceries? Can he sell cars? He certainly can’t be a starting NFL QB. But, if I told you, a Packer fan, this story after the fact and from the perspective of another team though, here’s how it would sound:

Jay Cutler went down and a former late round pick with nothing but preseason experience took the field for the Dolphins, and struggled mightily in that first outing. In the coming games, now getting starters reps in practice, his performance varied wildly, but the one thing he didn’t experience much of was success. Completion percentage over the course of 5 games ranged from a low of 48% to a high of 72%. TD:INT ratio in that time was 2:7. Pitchforks in hand, fans and analysts alike unanimously declared that his future career was more likely to end in barber college than the NFL. But if he’s lucky to catch on with someone, at best he could conceivably be a long term backup. He’ll NEVER develop into a starting QB. Well, maybe the Browns, but not on an NFL team.

This is the part where intelligent Packers fans that are not emotionally involved in this Dolphins fiasco would calmly explain to these lunatic fans that for all intents and purposes this is a rookie QB, who’s hasn’t played in real games in years, never experienced an NFL game before, and needs at least a few games to figure it out, get his legs under him, and figure out what he’s capable of. The season is over with a rookie at QB anyway, why not let him develop properly and slowly, and hope that this rookie that was drafted in the 5th round, could spend 11 games developing into a solid or better QB? And then, suddenly on the road he goes 17-26, 3 TDs, 0 Ints, and 245 yards, in a losing effort wherein he still had the chance to win the game on what could have been a game ending drive. And here’s the really funny part: the commentators and fans that had already predetermined his fate (meaning basically everyone) declares this to be a fluke performance. He still sucks.

Look, I don’t know how this will end, except to say that I know we haven’t seen the last of his disastrous performances. There are going to be ups and downs for the entire season. I just hope that by the final few games of the season, the ‘real’ Brett Hundley turns out to be a good QB. But, I know enough to know that I have no clue how this will turn out. Why was everyone predicting his entire career trajectory after his second and third games? The guy was a 5th round pick and today has still only played in 6 games. Outside of Tom Brady, how many modern day 5th round or higher QBs have played much better in their first 6 games? Couldn’t we wait for the season to end to decide this kid’s fate? The time I really expect to see results, though, will be next preseason. After Hundley has a season of play under his belt and then gets to apply what he’s learned through McCarthy’s offesason QB school, that’s when we’ll really see where he can go. Sadly for him, presumably by then Rodgers will be back and full strength. Maybe we can finally make that first round trade for Hundley (that his current naysayers demanded) after all. No wait, his future has already been predetermined. He’s no longer commanding a 1st round draft pick as trade compensation. No, he’ll be flipping burgers before QB school even starts, so I guess we’ll never know, and nobody will ever trade anything for him.

Could we please stop predetermining this kid’s future? I guarantee that the first 5 moderate-to-disastrous games were no more likely to be an accurate indicator of his future than the 1 highly productive one.

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