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Sunday’s NFC Championship Game should be a case study for the Green Bay Packers on how to not only survive but flourish without a starting quarterback.

The Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings wrote the report on it this season.

It’s why Nick Foles and Case Keenum will decide who represents the NFC in the Super Bowl, and why the Packers are in an offseason of upheaval.

Everyone from team president Mark Murphy, the new overseer of all things football in Green Bay after he made significant changes to the organizational flow chart last week, on down through new general manager Brian Gutekunst and returning coach Mike McCarthy should watch and learn on Sunday.

Or maybe they already have.

It starts with the two quarterbacks, but it doesn’t end there.

Both teams provided their backup quarterbacks with the resources to win. Yes, quarterback play made a difference in both cases, but it wasn’t the overriding factor in their successes.

Still, it’s a good place to start.

When Keenum replaced Sam Bradford (who had replaced Teddy Bridgewater), he had 24 career starts under his belt. When Foles replaced Carson Wentz, he had 36 starts.

When Brett Hundley took over for Aaron Rodgers, who broke his collarbone in Week 6, the Packers were going with a first-time starter. McCarthy stated emphatically that the three years he had invested in Hundley as a backup made him the right choice for the job, but the Packers either underestimated the former fifth-round pick’s ability or his acumen for the offense.

The result was a wildly uneven showing from week to week.

Compare Hundley’s numbers to those of the other two:

  • Hundley (11 games total, 3-6 as a starter): Nine touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 60.8 completion percentage, 5.81 yards per attempt and a 70.6 passer rating.
  • Keenum (16 games, including playoffs, 12-3 as a starter): 23 touchdowns, eight interceptions, 67.2 completion percentage, 7.42 yards per attempt and a 97.3 passer rating.
  • Foles (eight games, including playoffs, 3-1 as a starter): Five touchdowns, two interceptions, 61.1 completion percentage, 5.84 yards per attempt and an 84.2 passer rating.

Perhaps the most telling number doesn’t show up in any of those stats, and that’s sacks. Hundley was sacked 29 times in 11 games, which, in part, speaks to his poor pocket awareness. Keenum has been sacked 24 times in 16 games and Foles six times in eight games.

But it runs much deeper than just the fill-in quarterbacks.

The top-seeded Eagles ranked fourth in the NFL in total defense and were No. 1 against the run. The Vikings ranked first in total defense and were second against both the run and the pass.

To be sure, the Eagles and Vikings were constructed differently. They don’t have the luxury of a future Hall of Fame quarterback, so they devoted resources elsewhere.

The Packers used 13.36 percent of their total 2017 salary cap on the quarterback position — 12.89 percent of that was Rodgers. They devoted only 40.77 percent of their cap space to the defensive side of the ball.

The Eagles, with the benefit of a starting quarterback on his rookie contract, needed only 5.2 percent of their cap space on the position, including just 3.97 percent on Wentz. Foles, who is on a two-year, $11 million deal, ate up just 1.05 percent of the Eagles’ cap space in 2017. Therefore, they could devote 45 percent of their cap to their defense.

While the Vikings’ quarterback-cap situation more closely resembled the Packers’, using 15.3 percent of their cap space on the position (including 12.23 percent on Bradford), they still managed to use 52.14 percent of their cap space on their defense.

In some ways, the Eagles and Vikings have done the unimaginable by reaching the conference title game without their starting quarterbacks. But upon closer inspection, thanks to veteran backups and championship-caliber talent and coaching on defense, it’s just that they were better prepared to survive without them.

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Brett Hundley knows what he’ll do if he sees Anthony Barr chasing him on Saturday night.

“If he’s coming after me, I get down,” Hundley said. “That’s it.”

The Green Bay Packers quarterback has more to worry about than just the Minnesota Vikings linebacker who broke Aaron Rodgers’ collarbone with his hit when the teams met on Oct. 15. Hundley will start Saturday against the Vikings in the penultimate game of the season.

It’s Act Two for Hundley, who went 3-4 as a starter after Rodgers’ injury. He returned to the backup job last week when Rodgers returned, but after the Packers were eliminated from the postseason race, coach Mike McCarthy shut down Rodgers for the rest of the season and went back to Hundley.

It’s also Hundley’s first chance to play against a team for the second time. Although he didn’t start the first game against the Vikings, he played the majority of the game after Rodgers went down. Predictably, it didn’t go well for Hundley that day. He threw one touchdown and three interceptions in the Packers’ 23-10 loss.

“That was my first extended time ever in the league in a regular-season game,” Hundley said. “It was a bit of a shock. Obviously nerves are running high, my heart is about to bust out of my chest and nerves are going. But now I feel comfortable. I feel like I’m playing my game and I’m just having fun, and that’s pretty much the biggest thing.”

Since then, Hundley has made incremental improvements.

“I think he’s grown quite a bit,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said. “He’s making a lot of quick decisions. He’s been taking care of the football well. He’s using his legs quite a bit. He’s obviously got a strong arm, very athletic guy. He’s starting to see a lot more as far as the things when he wants to get the ball out to the perimeter when guys are playing off coverage, does a nice job with movement in the pocket, and he’s starting to really — I’m not saying he’s Rodgers, but he’s got a lot of very similar mannerisms.”

The final two games could serve as both a final audition for Hundley to impress a team to trade for him (something that seemed like a decent possibility entering this season but may have faded after Hundley started to play) and as a chance for the Packers to drum up interest in their backup this offseason.

“I don’t look at it [like that],” Hundley said. “I’m trying to play and win this game. What happens, there’s no point to look or worry about what’s going to happen in the future, because if you do that, you miss what’s happening now. For me, I’m just trying to make the most of this opportunity, win this game and worry about next week after this.”

For Hundley, the challenge might be his biggest. The Vikings’ defense ranks second overall in the NFL. Hundley inexplicably has performed much better on the road than at Lambeau Field, where he has no touchdowns and five interceptions compared to eight touchdowns against three interceptions on the road. However, Hundley won his past two starts — at home against Tampa Bay and at Cleveland, both in overtime.

“I’m hoping he builds off a lot of the good things he established the last couple games,” McCarthy said.

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The words that came from the visitors locker room at Heinz Field late Sunday night sounded much like what the Green Bay Packers have been saying for the last month and a half.

They trust Brett Hundley. They believe in Brett Hundley. They can win with Brett Hundley.

There might finally be reason to think it’s not a bunch of bunk.

“I’ve said this — I don’t know that anybody’s taken notes of what I’m saying — but he’s been the same person since day one,” Packers center Corey Linsley said. “He’s building. He’s getting better. He’s growing. And to take this and grow off of it, if we can build off of this win and get better from where we were tonight, it’s going to be a good deal.”

Hundley’s performance — 17-of-26 passing for 245 yards and three touchdowns (one more than he had in his previous six games combined this season) for a passer rating of 134.3 — was perhaps the best thing the Packers could take away from the last-second 31-28 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Although Hundley’s record dropped to 1-6 in games he’s finished since Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone in Week 6, there was more to like in this game than even in his lone victory over the hapless Chicago Bears.

Hundley went throw for throw with Ben Roethlisberger, whose passer rating was nearly 30 points lower than that of the Packers’ neophyte quarterback. That it came after Hundley’s worst showing — the four-turnover disaster in last week’s shutout loss to the Baltimore Ravens — made it even more convincing.

“Offense scored 28 points against an 8-2 team,” Packers defensive tackle Mike Daniels said. “Brett Hundley had himself a phenomenal day. The O-line blocked. They ran the ball well. They caught everything. We just have to make sure we’re where we’re supposed to be every play on our side of the ball.

“He played lights out. He played lights out.”

It might be the first time Daniels or anyone else could say that with a straight face.

“I didn’t like my performance last week and tried to make sure to the best of my ability it will never happen again,” Hundley said. “I just want to give this team an opportunity to win, and I feel like we’re close. We are really close. But we’ve just got to keep putting on points and try to score every time we get the ball.”

For the first time since he took over, Hundley threw a touchdown pass to someone other than Davante Adams. Hundley found a wide-open Randall Cobb for a 39-yard touchdown in the first quarter, then set up a screen to Jamaal Williams for a 54-yard catch-and-run score later in the first. And, of course, he went back to his favorite target on Adams’ 55-yard stutter-and-go touchdown in the third quarter.

But perhaps Hundley’s most impressive showing came after the Steelers took a 28-21 lead in the fourth quarter. He led a 12-play, 77-yard game-tying drive during which he completed passes to four different receivers, including a fourth-and-6 conversation to Jordy Nelson and a short throw to Nelson on third-and-1 that saw the receiver reach for a much-needed first down.

“He played great,” Nelson said of Hundley. “He made plays. The game doesn’t get too big for him. He’s doing a great job, especially handling everything he’s handling.”

Still, Hundley needs to prove he can win on a consistent basis. A once-promising season is on the brink of collapse with the Packers at 5-6 with five games to play — and at least two before Rodgers could possibly return.

“He doesn’t need to prove anything to me, but he’s been working,” Nelson said. “We know he can make the throws. It’s us on the outside trying to make the plays for him, giving him protection and just playing football, doing our jobs. Nothing too crazy. It’s just playing simple football and making plays.”

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The weight of the world — or at least the weight of Green Bay, Wisconsin — is on Brett Hundley’s shoulders.Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy clearly doesn’t want his new quarterback to feel that way.

That had to be why McCarthy started this week with a clear message to his team, one that he shared with reporters.

“We all need to do better,” McCarthy said, adding that this included himself and his coaches. “We had an injury to Aaron Rodgers, and nobody has stepped up. You know? No group has stepped up yet. We’ve had two games that have been very similar in nature, New Orleans and Detroit. We’ve acknowledged, we’ve planned, to change our course of how we’re playing as far as tilting the identity in a sense, and we need to get more production out of this new path. And it hasn’t happened yet.”

To be sure, no one will have a bigger impact on games than Hundley, who has lost both of his starts plus the game he finished in Minnesota after Rodgers suffered a broken right collarbone in the first quarter.

Hundley hasn’t been productive enough, and neither he nor McCarthy disputes that. But he hasn’t gotten much help, either.

“You all are putting it on Brett right now with the losses,” Packers receiver Randall Cobb said. “It’s not him. It’s us as a team. That’s the way we always look at it. It is a quarterback-driven league. Obviously, when you have one of the greatest, if not the greatest, to ever play the game, it’s definitely going to be a lot of chatter about him not being out there.”

For Cobb’s part, he said he and his fellow wideouts can do more to help Hundley.

“I think it’s big plays,” Cobb said. “We always talk about it in the receiver room: The team goes through us. When we’re able to make those big plays, I think it provides a spark for this team. Not only offensively but throughout the entire team. I put that on my shoulders. I talk about it all the time. I have to break more tackles. I don’t believe I’ve been the player I need to be for this team. Once I break tackles, Jordy [Nelson] and Davante [Adams] break tackles, that energy I think will build, and I think it’ll continue throughout the course of the season. It’s on our shoulders. I’m putting it on the three of us.”

The Packers’ defense could shoulder some of the load, too.

It has gone in the tank since Rodgers’ injury. Through five weeks, the Packers were 4-1, and their defense ranked 11th overall (sixth against the run, 22nd against the pass and 18th on third down).

Taking just games played between Weeks 6 and 9, which includes the Packers’ three-game losing streak plus the bye week, the defense ranks 30th overall, 19th against the run, 31st against the pass and 30th on third down.

The offense hasn’t been much better. In that same span, the Packers (4-4) are 30th in yards per game, 14th in rushing, 29th in passing and 30th on third down.

Third downs were particularly problematic in Monday night’s 30-17 loss to the Lions. The Packers converted just 2 of 9 such opportunities, and the Lions converted 8 of 13.

It’s no wonder McCarthy’s emphasis in practice this week in advance of Sunday’s game at Chicago (3-5) was on third down.

“The name of the game is points,” Hundley said. “And once you get into the rhythm, it all depends on how the game’s going and what we’re doing, but once you get into that rhythm and once you get into the red zone, you’ve got to score points.

“That’s where it shows when you’ve driven the field that long, you’ve got to get some points on the board. That’s the big thing that we’re emphasizing this week is third down, and when we get in there, score. Put some points up.”

If Hundley is feeling the pressure that McCarthy is clearly trying to keep off him, it hasn’t shown. At 24, Hundley has been nothing but calm on the field, chewing the gum that has become his trademark. It’s been the same thing during his twice-weekly sessions with the media.

“When I’m out there, I just like chewing my gum and having fun, man,” Hundley said. “The gum is nice. It’s my mouthpiece out there.

“I just try to have fun. This is a game of football that we’re blessed to be playing. The name of the game is winning, but, at the same time, I can’t do something that’s not me just to try to make this thing go, just because I have to play my game and that’s the best that I can give to this team. If I do more than me, then I’m getting out of my comfort zone, and things probably won’t go right.”

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Last week, the Green Bay Packers were riding high with a quarterback who was playing as well or better than anyone in the NFL.

That showed in the ESPN NFL Power Rankings, where they were No. 2 behind the Kansas City Chiefs, who were the league’s only undefeated team at the time. The Chiefs lost Sunday but remained at No. 1. The Packers lost quarterback Aaron Rodgers and dropped all the way to 16th in the latest edition of the rankings released on Tuesday.

They haven’t been this low since they started 4-6 last season. They bottomed out at 24th before Rodgers said he thought the Packers could “run the table,” and they did by winning the rest of their regular-season games and reaching the NFC Championship.

But with Brett Hundley at quarterback indefinitely — and possibly for the rest of the season — after Rodgers’ broke his right collarbone in Sunday’s loss at Minnesota and will have surgery, it’s understandable that the outlook is gloomy, especially since the Packers have been ravaged by injuries at other positions. In fact, ESPN’s Kevin Seifert this week ranked the Packers as the team most impacted by injuries.

Rodgers’ injury changed the outlook in the NFC North. According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, the Packers had a 52 percent chance to win the division with Rodgers. Without him, that dropped to 25 percent. The Vikings, who were at 36 percent before Rodgers’ injury, jumped to 53 percent, while the Lions went from 12 percent to 22 percent. The Bears have less than a 0.1 percent chance regardless.

The short-term outlook isn’t much better. The Packers were a 6.5-point favorite at home against the New Orleans Saints before Rodgers’ injury. The line moved 10 points initially, making the Saints a 3.5-point favorite, according to the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas. The Saints are now up to a 5.5-point favorite.

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It’s upsetting to Mike McCarthy he has lost his MVP quarterback possibly for the season, but his displeasure on Monday was directed just as much at the rest of his team.

The update on Aaron Rodgers is he’ll have surgery soon on his broken right collarbone and begin a recovery process that has no timeline as of yet.

Regardless of when that information becomes available, though, McCarthy is focused on getting the awful taste of Sunday’s loss to the Vikings out of his mouth.

“It was a poor performance as a football team, one I’m frustrated by,” McCarthy said. “When the mental mistakes are what they were yesterday, it’s something I take very personal from the chair of the head coach.”

McCarthy didn’t go into detail on the errors, but his tone and words suggested they were numerous.

Communication and assignment mistakes were made repeatedly against Minnesota’s pass rush, leading to four sacks and more than a dozen quarterback hits. Three starting offensive linemen departed with injuries at different times, but the lineup shuffling wasn’t handled as well as it had been in other games.

Defensively, the Packers had their highest number of missed tackles in a game this season, according to defensive coordinator Dom Capers. Multiple penalties on third down also extended drives.

Monday was focused on going over the extensive corrections in the film room and then working ahead a little on the next opponent, the Saints, who have won three straight after an 0-2 start. Normally that initial film study occurs on Wednesday, but in the wake of Rodgers’ injury and the team’s rough day without him, McCarthy and his coaches are turning the page as quickly as possible.

“It’s important to shift gears,” McCarthy said. “We’re looking forward to playing again after our performance yesterday.

“My challenge is to win game No. 5. This is what we do as coaches. This is what we’re committed to as a football team. It’s unfortunate for all these guys to be hurt right now, and it’s unfortunate for Aaron to get hurt like that, but this is where we are. All the energy needs to be poured into beating the Saints.”

That energy is also fully behind Brett Hundley as the new starting quarterback, with Joe Callahan  as his backup. McCarthy made that unequivocally clear.

Having invested multiple years in both backup signal callers, McCarthy is calling upon himself, the QBs, and the entire offense to “turn it up” after producing a measly 118 yards on Sunday from the time Rodgers left the game until a late desperation drive.

“I have to do a better job. I have to get Brett into a flow. More importantly, we need to get our offense into a flow,” McCarthy said. “We didn’t run the ball very well, pass protection was a negative, we didn’t handle basic blitzes they came with. We have to play cleaner football.”

It would help to get some continuity up front, but McCarthy had no injury updates on offensive linemen Lane Taylor , Bryan Bulaga or David Bakhtiari , saying their prospects for Sunday will be sorted out later in the week. The defense remains banged-up as well, with three top defensive backs in Morgan Burnett , Kevin King and Davon Housemissing the Minnesota game.

As for the injury to Rodgers, McCarthy said he watched the video of Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr’s outside-the-pocket takedown and termed it “totally unnecessary.”

“I didn’t like the hit,” he said. “He’s clearly expecting to get hit, and to pin him to the ground like that, I felt it was an illegal act.

“To sit here and lose any of your players to something like that, it doesn’t feel good.”

But a performance like Sunday’s almost feels worse to a head coach, whose resolve and determination were unmistakable one day later.

“I’m focused on getting back to playing Green Bay Packer football,” McCarthy said. “Yesterday was not anything we needed to be. We’re not going to play like that anymore.”