I spent 8 hours watching Brett Hundley film. (If someone like XOS Film Software wants to sponsor Seahawks on tape, or Field Gulls, please get in touch…please!) ... And yet I’m still wrestling inside my brain over this Seahawks’ move.
I get it
On one hand, Seattle has suffered poor and unreliable backup quarterback play for some time. This preseason was plagued by Austin Davis looking dreadful while offering no excitement due to his pitiful mobility.
Meanwhile, Alex McGough has had difficulties learning the offense and with the speed of the NFL. The seventh-round rookie showed promise that makes him an exciting QB2 of the future, but it’s clear he needs a redshirt year and would benefit from such a move.
Most revealing of how the Seahawks views their quarterback position is the amount of time Russell Wilson played in the preseason. The patchy standard of play behind him made it near-impossible for Seattle’s front office to properly evaluate those on the roster bubble, and therefore Wilson was left in games.
Additionally, it’s fair to ask: how many waiver wire guys can you pick up with starting experience and legs? Hundley is that, coming cheap at a $705,000 cap hit with zero guarantees. Moreover, a sixth round pick is tough to turn into even contributing talent.
Just look at John Schneider’s history in the round:
Flashed an effective speed rush this preseason to beat backups.
Has looked dreadful.
Destined to be a backup center who needs replacing. His undersized stature requires elite technique and intangibles, he doesn’t have that. Won’t get a second contract in the Pacific Northwest.
Now 27-years-old, he continues to bounce around teams due to his athleticism.
A SPARQ king, Sokoli was a failed Sweezy-style OL convert, who is now on the bubble as a defensive end for the New York Giants.
One of the greatest testers ever, a heart issue prevented Scott from playing a NFL down.
The Cowboys have tried him as a hybrid linebacker after Pinkins failed on the Seahawks, Giants and spent a year out of the league.
Nearly reached 1000 yards in 2016 but suffered a torn PCL in the 2017 pre-season. Now that Kareem Hunt is the clear starter, Ware is an afterthought.
Once an underrated part of Seattle’s defensive backfield, Lane has now lost his slot corner job to Justin Coleman and finds himself stuck in free agency purgatory.
Now a free agent, Guy failed PED tests and spent time starting in a dreadful Indianapolis Colts defense.
JS/PC’s best sixth round selection, an at-worst solid cornerback #2 in this scheme.
Once a promising receiving tight end, McCoy was plagued by various injuries and was out of the league in just 5 years.
I don’t get it
On the other hand: Hundley is bad. Not Davis brutal. Not McGough unrefined. But bad nonetheless. That would be palatable considering his upside at just 25-years-old—except for the fact he is in the last year of his deal.
His career passing numbers are: a passing rating of 70.7, a completion percentage of 59.5, 9 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and 1,853 passing yards. Hundley averages 5.8 yards per pass attempt. None of the nine touchdowns he threw in 2017 were thrown at Lambeau Field and under his leadership the Packers offense suffered two shutouts at home, resulting in them finishing the season averaging just 20 points per game.
Hundley effectively lost the quarterback competition in Green Bay to Tim Boyle.
Don't think it can be understated how wild a story Tim Boyle is.— Eric Edholm (@Eric_Edholm) August 29, 2018
QB who had 1-13 TD-INT ratio in 3 years at UConn on 275 passes (19 games).
Ended college career at 12-26 ratio after 1 year at Eastern Kentucky.
Now looks locked in as #Packers QB3 after Hundley trade. Wow.
Adding the adjustment phase required when entering a new offense and the trade gets stranger. Hundley was clearly going to be cut, and the Seahawks were worried that he would get snagged by another team. Yet he has just over one week until the regular season to learn this attack—and no preseason trial.
With such a short period of education for Hundley, it is odd Seattle didn’t instead look to the waiver wire for a backup quarterback and save their 2019 draft pick. For instance, the more mobile and more experienced Geno Smith may become available soon.
The Seahawks will hope to get a seventh round comp pick for Hundley if he walks, the former 2015 fifth round pick, yet that’s in a best-case scenario. Furthermore, Hundley will likely play zero games in Seahawks blue.
Trading a sixth rounder reduces Seattle’s ‘swings at the plate’ / ‘rolls of the dice’. Furthermore, a 2019 sixth would have potentially been a valuable trade-up chip. A 6 could also have got them a kicker next year. We’ve seen what acquiring future All-Pro Michael Dickson has done for the Seahawks already.
Back in the days of Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst, this sort of ‘try before you buy’ rental would make sense. But Seattle isn’t needy of a long-term starter: they have Russell Freakin’ Wilson.
Tom Moore said it best when asked by Jon Gruden why he wasn’t giving Peyton Manning’s backups more reps: “Fellas, if 18 goes down we’re fucked, and we don’t practice fucked.” If Russell Wilson missed games, I’m sure a lot of Seahawks fans would happily toss the season in the trash and play for draft position. Though that goes against every Pete Carroll fibre of competition, Seattle doesn’t have the great defense to carry a team without a franchise quarterback. Alex McGough could then receive invaluable NFL regular season starting experience.
Hundley in the NFL
Once highly touted and receiving plenty of first-round hype, Hundley has continued his downward trend into the pros. The nine-game starting streak he was handed after Aaron Rodgers missed time with a collarbone injury showed his college flaws to be a big problem in the pros. Irreversible blemishes in fact.
Now, such skillset weaknesses can be overcome with intelligent scheming. I often point to the example of Jared Goff’s 2017 stark transformation as the essence of what better offensive design can do for a passer.
Effective scheming should always cater towards a player’s skillset. In a backup quarterback’s case that’s especially true. A team has to find out what the signal-caller is good at and what they are bad at. In a disaster situation, Hundley needs to be protected from the things he struggles with and have his strengths accentuated. Matt Harmon wrote, following a particularly dismal Hundley performance, that “McCarthy’s inability to adjust his approach to assist Hundley has constricted the field for the Packers.”
Though Green Bay did provide Hundley with a few simple concepts—like throwing a smoke route versus off coverage and a stacked box on 3rd down—he was out there running a very similar offense to Aaron Rodgers.
Preparation is also key, something Mike McCarthy acknowledged was lacking last year at his 2018 NFL Combine presser:
“We felt that he could’ve been better prepared. We have to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
Pete Carroll told reporters after Wednesday’s walk-through practice for last Thursday’s pre-season finale against Oakland:
“We’ll be cranking, to get [Hundley] ready as soon as possible. He’s going into his fourth year now. He’s played quite a bit; he started a bunch of games last year. We’ve been able to see him, how he’s really developed. And we liked him coming out of college, as well. He’s big. He runs well. He’s got a good arm. He’s got good vision of the field. He’s made big throws and big plays. He really gives you the thought he can come into a game and keep it moving. So, we just thought it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.”
We’re going to look at all of Hundley’s 2017 games. The games where he faced proper defenses, exotic scheme and genuine competitiveness. On our journey of Hundley assessment, we’ll discover his positive traits and his negative. Let’s watch the tape.
(Be aware of the context of his first action against the Minnesota Vikings—where neither team had a chance to gameplan for him. Also note the difficulties of his last two starts, quarterbacking a squad who had essentially given up with no playoff chances versus a duo of playoff hopefuls.)
Hundley has good enough arm strength to make NFL throws, be it to drive to the sideline, to go deep or to zip it past coverage.
He gets Sacked…A lot
Hundley took the most sacks in the FBS in his last year of college. In his three-year UCLA career, he went down an astonishing 125 time. He’s already been sacked on 29 occasions in his NFL career, a deeply concerning statistic given he has dropped back 316 times.
Shaky offensive line situation or not, such numbers are largely a result of his own failings. He brings himself down.
Hundley’s movement in the pocket needs a lot of work. He finds ways into pressure rather than moving into space from the crowd or stepping up into escape lanes. His only real escape plan is to run to his right, a tendency defensive coordinators can exploit.
Clip 1: Although he gets the completion on this play, his navigation ends up taking him into pressure. If he was a more effective pocket slider, he’d have found the open out. (This may seem harsh, but you’ll see how it becomes a problem)
Clip 2: This was the only example I could find of Hundley stepping up in the pocket to pass. It comes from a clear opening where the pressure funnels him right to the space.
The two plays under “Pocket Navigation” are closely tied to Pocket ‘Feeling’. Hundley’s lack of ‘feel’ in the pocket is where his navigation suffers so badly.
Clip 1: The orbit motion into the backfield from the slot receiver is unfollowed, telling Hundley the pass defense is zone. He does well initially, moving up to avoid the initial pressure. But then his eyes duck to the rush rather than staying calm downfield. This sees him miss the opportunity to move left and hit the dig which is wide open between zones. Instead he escapes to his typical right and throws a woeful pick off his back foot.
Clip 2: I told you he loves going right! Fan of the max-protect, two-route combination or not, Hundley runs into the pressure rather than moving up to buy more time.
Clip 3: There is waiting for a screen to develop, there is waiting too long and then there is not even throwing the ball into the feet of the running back. Hundley chooses the third option and gets unnecessarily whacked—even if it is third down.
Clip 4: Hundley doesn’t ‘feel’ where the pressure is. He sees the edge rusher to his left go past him, but he still tries to move right. The room is to the left and up, where he could have found two open vertical routes. His ‘feel’, or lack of, results in a near-fumble, incompletion and big hit.
His high sack rates also suffer from poor pressure identification at the line of scrimmage, both pre- and post-snap.
Clip 1: Snakebitten after throwing two interceptions at this point in the game, Hundley should still recognize the free man coming right at him and throw the ball up on this fourth down. They roll the pocket to buy him time. He neds to fling the ball down the seam where there might be an opening. An interception is better than a sack in this situation.
Clip 2: Hundley fails to diagnose a slot cornerback blitz from the longer developing, wide, field side. Post-snap, the dropping of the boundary side outside linebacker is a big clue. At Hundley’s blindside, he doesn’t ‘feel’ the blitz during the play.
On the resulting 3rd and 20, the Packers burned their second timeout after Hundley couldn’t get the offense set.
Hundley progresses through reads like he’s missed his morning coffee…for the past year.
Clip 1: Again, this is a big play where I’m going to criticize Hundley. Here, the result isn’t important. It’s the process. Like all those math tests I failed, the workings out from Hundley show a worrying trend. Hundley spends too long moving off the unopen stick to his left, then registers the pressure off the right.
Instead of staying calm and processing that the hitch behind the pressure is therefore wide open, he ducks his eyes to the rusher and scrambles right. Fortunately for him, Gregg Williams’ defense can’t play a disciplined three-deep shell so he finds his running back wide open in the endzone.
Clip 2: Another completion, another critique. The Bears send five. They have clearly locked down all the deeper options. Hundley takes an extra two seconds to throw to the correct tight end checkdown. This is s l o w.
Clip 1: This is worrying stuff. The Browns send a five-man zone blitz which is going to cause some issues on the right edge. Hundley is staring at his sluggo pattern all the way, determined to throw it despite the corner’s excellent positioning and the rotated safety being right there too. Sure he doesn’t want to take the safety and it’s 3rd down, but the #3 in the flats is the blitz beater here.
Clip 2: 3rd and 6 and Hundley knows he is facing man coverage after the pre-snap motion is followed. Detroit sends 5 with a nasty End-Tackle stunt. Hundley moves off the deep out and first crosser too slowly, and against the blitz should be finding his checkdown sooner. It (his running back) is wide open but the eyes duck to the rush and down he goes.
Clip 3: Another blitz, another third and long, another poor read progression. He is flushed a bit here, but the post was open with anticipation and the hitch was open early as a blitz beater.
Bird Dogging is a term used to describe when a quarterback stares down their target. It is the opposite of looking defenders off. Still unsure? Hundley will show you:
(He’s already shown bird dogging in previous videos)
Clip 1: He misreads the coverage here, thinking it is straight man-to-man. His mechanics are so lazy, with his footwork all wrong and him short arming the throw. Furthermore, he doesn’t sell the short option. The corner in zone technique intercepts the horrid throw.
Clip 2: Faced with this 5-man pressure, Hundley should be thinking the short route. Taking the 1v1 outside would be fine, except for the fact he massively bird dogs the concept. This allows the single-high safety to start breaking on the play really early and the pass is almost intercepted.
The slow scanning in read progressions and coverage identification combined with the bird dogging makes him massively frustrating. Openings are missed. Hundley lets mistakes stick with him, affecting him through games and beyond. That saw Hundley fail to put together consecutive productive games.
Clip 1: Hundley has a one-second window to make this throw to the vertical route from #3. It is in between the zones and he’s looking right at it. Yet he doesn’t trust his arm, seeing him get sacked.
Clip 2: A similar situation. The play is there to be made, yet he isn’t confident enough to make it.
Clip 3: A good throw here sees this dig off the play-action complete. But Hundley doesn’t try threading it in, worried at the defensive back. Instead he struggles to throw the sideline incompletion.
His gun-shy nature also applies to tight-window throws. For a backup coming into a game being risk averse isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Living another down is smart, but plays do need to be made.
Clip 1: It’s uncertain that Hundley he even sees the other linebacker here (that is another issue), but he squeezes the slant in for a first down.
The context of that clip and the next two is massively relevant. Down big, there was nothing to lose there. But when it’s on the line…
Clip 2: His post comes open with a great throw, but Hundley checks it down late in the fourth looking to tie the game.
Clip 3: He moves from the dig (briefly open) to the stick (also briefly open). He throws neither, taking the sack in a tied game which has 1.20 left to play.
Throwing Under Pressure
Inconsistent weight transfer massively affects Hundley’s accuracy and velocity, as we saw with that Ravens redzone interception. He also doesn’t reset his feet when going through his progressions. Under pressure, the situation worsens. His mechanics totally collapse and he consistently sails passes.
His precision on downfield throws is rough: he can’t thread the needle.
His best throw is one where he looks a single-high safety off and then beats 1v1 isolated coverage on the sideline with a backshoulder throw. Thinking ahead for a second: If Seattle have an effective run game Hundley should get more of these looks.
Clip 1: This is a fantastic backshoulder throw in the redzone. He reads the leverage well and places the pass perfectly for the late tying touchdown. His placement on most short passes is a strength, where he also leads receivers well.
Clip 2: He somewhat looks off the safety and delivers an absolute dime to the backshoulder, showcasing exemplary timing.
Mobility and ball Security
Hundley brings way more with his legs than Davis ever did. He isn’t super quick, but he is a long strider who can pick up serious yardage on the ground. Green Bay should have used his legs more, and you can bet the Seahawks will. Wilson could do with teaching Hundley a proper slide, he is very upright and the newcomers ball security is loose.
When in the zone
When Hundley is the zone, feeling good about himself, he hits throws. But this isn’t often enough. These are open, first-read plays. But they still require sound placement.
Assessing the Trade
This pre-season Hundley has been receiving praise for his performances. It immediately inspired caution from me.
Hundley is a bit of an offseason star. As a rookie, he led the NFL in pre-season passing yards with 630. Completing 69.2% of his passes with seven touchdowns and one interception, he placed third with a 129.6 passer rating. An ankle injury limited him to 2016 numbers of 5 for 7. This year he’s completed 62% of his passes for 263 yards with one touchdown, one interception and a passer rating of 81.3.
Nevertheless, his 2018 exhibition game tape is full of past issues. He is still lacking anticipation. He is still slow and cautious to get ball out. He is still sailing throws when under pressure. He is still nonchalant and missing ‘feel’ in the pocket. He is still struggling to sense pressure.
We haven’t seen much of his read progression speed due to the first read nature of the pre-season. The times where he has made a second-read have been on checkdowns, or for bootlegs reading flat to intermediate crosser.
Hundley’s processing is at a Windows 98 level. But man went to the moon with less.
With Hundley at the helm: Schottenheimer could keep his play-action intermediate shots, sprinkle in some empty backfields to ease coverage and pressure identification, run read-options, plus employ Hundley’s favorite concepts of slant follow, quick out picks, backshoulder isos, and out-n-ups. This is the type of offense he can operate, and if he came in for a couple of games it’s the type of attack Seattle would hope to go at least 1-1 with.
To help with Hundley’s faults against pressure, Schottenheimer can reduce the effectiveness of the rush via play-action and by going up-tempo into empty. To simplify coverage identification, pre-snap motion must be used frequently. They can also add in RPOs, aiding Hundley in similar fashion to the Philadelphia Eagles’ remarkable Super Bowl victory with Nick Foles at the helm—something you’ll read more about in next week’s Seahawks on tape.
So that tussle inside my mind is continuing.
Seattle clearly believes the situation at quarterback is dire enough to make this rental necessary. The position was certainly requiring an upgrade at some point. Schneider may have loved Hundley pre-draft, but the unavoidable truth remains: Hundley, despite his 2017 experience, is still showing the same critical defects he displayed in college.