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Packers linebackers coach gives A.J. Hawk a mixed review

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Although Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk got a lot of criticism as the team’s defense struggled last year, his position coach says he had a good season — sort of.

Packers inside linebackers coach Winston Moss says that play in and play out, Hawk was fine in 2011. But he also acknowledges that teams need players to step up and make big plays, and Hawk didn’t do that often enough.

His year was just quiet,” Moss said. “When he got in, there wasn’t a lot of tackle production and there weren’t interceptions so you look at his stat line and you say, ‘Well, what the hell did he do last year?’ A.J. is not a problem. A.J. is not an issue. A.J. didn’t play poorly last year. He just didn’t make those impact plays. I’m fine with what A.J. is doing. But on the flipside of that, you want your guys being impactful and making plays. He didn’t do it last year and I’m sure he’s not satisfied. He’s going to respond accordingly.”

The lack of impact plays was particularly noticeable in pass coverage, where Hawk declined from 10 passes defensed and three interceptions in 2010 to three passes defensed and zero interceptions in 2011. Hawk acknowledges that.

“The year before I think I had three picks and got my hands on a lot of balls,” Hawk said. “Last year, for whatever reason, I didn’t even get my hands on many. That’s a difference.”

Of course, a starting linebacker might play 1,000 snaps a season, so the difference between 10 and three passes defensed, or three and zero interceptions, represents a difference on maybe 1 percent of the plays on which Hawk was on the field. Moss says that on the other 99 percent of the plays, Hawk was the same player in 2011 that he was in 2010.

Then again, sometimes one impact play can be the difference between winning a game and losing a game. Those impact plays are what the Packers need from Hawk in 2012.

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40 Responses to “Packers linebackers coach gives A.J. Hawk a mixed review”
  1. talkintrashallday says: Jun 22, 2012 9:06 AM

    Trade to Miami. you heard it here first…

  2. bighyzer says: Jun 22, 2012 9:08 AM

    A.J. Hawk = OVERRATED

  3. aaronitout says: Jun 22, 2012 9:15 AM

    bighyzer says:
    Jun 22, 2012 9:08 AM
    A.J. Hawk = OVERRATED

    —————————————————-
    Overdrafted = Yes

    Overrated = No

    There were high expectations for Hawk when he got drafted but those expectations have been tempered because he has played average, maybe slightly above at times over the past 6-7 years. Is he overpaid? Absolutely.

  4. castleofcheese says: Jun 22, 2012 9:16 AM

    I defended Hawk for a long time, but it’s getting harder and harder.

  5. packfntk says: Jun 22, 2012 9:26 AM

    I like AJ but he is not performing as a top 5 pick should. We gave him a contract and he is playing decent, but not making those “game changing” plays he should.

    If he doesn’t step it up, it could only be a matter of time before DJ Smith surpasses him.

  6. duckstyle187 says: Jun 22, 2012 9:26 AM

    Don;t you have to be highly regarded at some point after college to be considered over-rated. I think he’s perfectly rated, as a journeyman inside linebacker.

  7. toolkien says: Jun 22, 2012 9:28 AM

    The Packers inside Linebackers way over pursued last year. Of the weaknesses the Packers had on defense last year, one was letting teams exploit them with faking action to one side of the field and sneaking the tight end out to the other side. Hawk AND THE REST would be trying their best to turn back to no avail. And in general that was a Packer problem on defense, over commitment that could be exploited. So in some sense it’s part of the philosophy. And when there’s not enough playmakers anywhere on the field, everyone on looked bad and constantly out of position.

  8. bougin89 says: Jun 22, 2012 9:31 AM

    I don’t think we should overreact because defense’s suffered more from the lockout than offenses but in the same breath Hawk definitely needs to play much better this year. If he doesn’t I doubt he is a Packer in 2013.

  9. jenniferxxx says: Jun 22, 2012 9:39 AM

    This is why teams are reluctant to use high picks on linebackers.

  10. ernie ernie says: Jun 22, 2012 9:51 AM

    Hawk knows very well he is on the fence this year and has been for two years. There was talk of trading or releasing him two years ago before injuries gave him a reprieve.

    Unless this guy comes around, I don’t see him making the team. They have way too many ILB’s ready to show their stuff and he will be the odd man out along with two or three more that were also marginal.

    I do applaud his charity events and contributions and he is a pretty good guy but not an ILB.

  11. conormacleod says: Jun 22, 2012 10:02 AM

    The entire Packers defense gambles. They are all personal stat hogs that figured their offense would carry them so there was no need to play team defense. It didn’t work out so well at the end. Now, if your LB can’t tackle, can’t cover anybody, and can’t make plays, I’d go ahead and say he had a bad season. The entire defense had a bad season. You can’t hide that with 42-35 wins and a blowout loss in the playoffs.

  12. chris6523 says: Jun 22, 2012 10:09 AM

    The following text was sent to me by a friend during one of the packer games last year: “AJ Hawk is good at getting blocked and staying blocked”

    It isn’t a question of whether Hawk was overdrafted or if he is overrated. He isn’t average. He is probably in the bottom third of starting inside linebackers in the NFL. Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel more or less made Hawk the poster boy of the Packers horrible defense in his post mortem article at the end of the season and he was dead on.

  13. tritz32 says: Jun 22, 2012 10:17 AM

    AJ Hawk, the best 2nd or 3rd guy to the play tackler in the league. I cant remember him making an impact play since he accidentally ran into a sack in Detroit his rookie year. Shoulda traded him last year or The Skittles Monster…

  14. hyzers says: Jun 22, 2012 10:17 AM

    In Mr. Hawk’s defense, he did take a pay cut a year or two ago…

  15. tritz32 says: Jun 22, 2012 10:20 AM

    *for the Skittles monster. And before that lost gets thumbs down, that was 2 years ago we shoulda traded, my bad…

  16. cheesewizz says: Jun 22, 2012 10:26 AM

    Sounds like a slow news week. Hawk was not the problem. When your middle LB has to spend most of his time taking on 300 pound Olineman because the Packers Dline couldn’t contain my grandma of course his production will drop. Same thing with Matthews. No threat from the Dline meant the Oline could contain him easy.

    There are far weaker links on the Packers D than Hawk. Blame the pathetic Dline that’s where the problem really lies.

  17. boiler72 says: Jun 22, 2012 10:32 AM

    Hawk isn’t terrible, never has been. But, considering he was the 5th overall pick in the draft, he’s been “just a guy”. Nothing real special about him. It is what it is.

  18. eaststsfb says: Jun 22, 2012 10:34 AM

    conormacleod says:Jun 22, 2012 10:02 AM

    The entire Packers defense gambles. They are all personal stat hogs that figured their offense would carry them so there was no need to play team defense.
    ———————————————————-
    I’ll admit the Pack’s defense was simply bad most of the year, but this comment is just stupid. This one one of the few teams that understands the concept of “team” and plays for each other and not for themselves. Conormacleod I’d like to know how you can defend this statement. Rediculous.

  19. toolkien says: Jun 22, 2012 10:43 AM

    You can’t hide that with 42-35 wins and a blowout loss in the playoffs.
    ——————————————–

    The Packers turned the ball over 4 times which was the reason for the loss and the main reason for the lopsided nature of the game. Hail Mary’s poorly defended certainly doesn’t leave one in a position to stick up for the defense, but it stands that the 4 turnovers is what killed the Packers first and foremost.

  20. insanelomein2 says: Jun 22, 2012 10:44 AM

    The Eagles could use an “overrated” LB since all their LBs clearly underperformed last year.

  21. hack19 says: Jun 22, 2012 10:47 AM

    If Hawk was drafted in the 5th round versus the 5th pick, he wouldn’t get all of this attention and would simply be known for what he is, a consistent and unspectacular player. What isn’t listed by the other commentators is who can replace him? D.J. Smith is instinctive but in the end he is too small and slow to be the answer. He does not appear to be an upgrade and his limitations are obvious at times. The other back-ups are not as good as Hawk either. Manning is the unknown and maybe he will start to take some of Hawk’s reps and be an upgrade. Other than him, you can’t get rid of a guy unless you have someone better to replace him, which is why Barnett is now gone. GB has not won over the last few years because of luck. They keep the players that give them the best chance to win. Until they have someone that shows better play than Hawk, my trust is in TT that Hawk is their best LB for the job.

  22. thankheavenfornumberseven says: Jun 22, 2012 10:49 AM

    Hawk is the same guy he’s always been – Mediocre linebacker who wasn’t worth where he was drafted. For some reason, all the fans were talking about how great he was when he signed his big contract but now they seem to have recognized what everyone else has always seen.

  23. purpleguy says: Jun 22, 2012 10:49 AM

    I’m trying to think of an Ohio State LB picked high in the draft whose long term NFL performance ever equalled the expectations of their draft position.

  24. toolkien says: Jun 22, 2012 10:50 AM

    A final comment, in 2010 the Packers’ D was a little squishy on defense early in the year, then found a formula and had nice contribution from the secondary, to a point where they could afford to bring pressure from the safeties and backs. In SB 45 the Packers had two takeaways, played strong and built a 21-3 lead with a few minutes left in the first half. On consecutive plays Shields and Woodson were out. From that time on the score was 22-10 Pittsburgh.

    In early 2011, Collins went out for his career and Williams was hurt to a point where he’s still trying to recover. And the Packers D played soft zones all year like they did in the second half of the Super Bowl. I think with the return of whatever health they can, and the new blood, the Packers should at least be able to return to 2009 form where they were about 7th in points given up. But even if the D does improve, and the O plays like it did last year, if the Packers turn the ball over 4 times in a playoff game, they are not going to win.

  25. youarewrongandthisiswhy says: Jun 22, 2012 10:53 AM

    If he was 5th overall in the 2nd round his production would be okay.

    At least he’s not Andy Katzenmoyer.

  26. bluestree says: Jun 22, 2012 11:11 AM

    It’s not Hawk’s fault he was drafted no. 5, it was just not much of a draft. He’s been solid for the most part, but he does have a problem shedding blocks and getting through the trash. He’s one of those ‘assignment sure but uninstinctive’ guys. Hawk will greatly benefit if the Packers can generate a pass rush, and his nose tackle plays better.

  27. dram931 says: Jun 22, 2012 11:14 AM

    The Packers need AJ Hawk to play like Brian Cushing.

  28. vikingsfan4life says: Jun 22, 2012 11:30 AM

    Now I’m really confused. I thought AJ Hawk was drafted by Ted Thompson? Shouldn’t that make Hawk one of the greatest LBs to ever play the game? I mean, look at the track record: Justin Harrell, Mike Neal, Patrick Lee. I thought Thompson NEVER missed on a player.

  29. patsman12 says: Jun 22, 2012 11:47 AM

    AJ Sparrow his way overrated he is just like the other loser V. Gohlston to come out of OSU. But go ahead pay him the big bucks I love it, should have kept Barnett more bang for th bucks!!!!!!!

  30. bougin89 says: Jun 22, 2012 12:02 PM

    These comments make it seem like nearly everyone forgot how well Hawk played two years ago. He was a key cog in the defense that won the super bowl. He definitely had a bad season last year, there is no defending that but c’mon, he was excellent two years ago.

  31. davester37 says: Jun 22, 2012 12:10 PM

    If memory serves, my Niners drafted Vernon Davis one slot before the Pack took Hawk. No complaints about that one.

  32. Wisconsin77 says: Jun 22, 2012 12:10 PM

    Terrible Ted should have took TE Davis in the draft like everybody was telling him to.

  33. jimmysee says: Jun 22, 2012 12:34 PM

    Got to keep this in perspective.

    All those bumblers on the Packers managed to win the SuperBowl pretty convincingly in 2010, and 15 regular season games last year.

  34. cobaltdriver says: Jun 22, 2012 12:41 PM

    Now I’m really confused. I thought AJ Hawk was drafted by Ted Thompson? Shouldn’t that make Hawk one of the greatest LBs to ever play the game? I mean, look at the track record: Justin Harrell, Mike Neal, Patrick Lee. I thought Thompson NEVER missed on a player.

    Wow..shockwave..another Viking fan obsessed with Green Bay.

  35. ruvelligwebuike says: Jun 22, 2012 2:01 PM

    @Wisconsin77 aka Gabe…

    Still on Terrible Ted…after the Packers win the Super Bowl and then follow it up with a 15 win season?

    I called Brett last night. He asked me to tell you to stop worshipping him. He is just a man, just like…well, not you, but normal people.

  36. airnrodgers says: Jun 22, 2012 2:22 PM

    If memory serves, my Niners drafted Vernon Davis one slot before the Pack took Hawk. No complaints about that one.

    If memory serves, your niners also drafted Alex Smith and my Packers got Aaron Rodgers. No complaints about that one.

  37. stavreafavre says: Jun 22, 2012 3:52 PM

    Hawk is there one more year because of his contract. After that it’s adios. D.J. Smith may be short, but I’ll take short over a step late and no impact. A lot of Packer fans would give mixed reviews to coach Winston Moss too. He kept Desmond Bishop on the bench until he had no choice but to use him.
    Vikiingsfan4life, first of all my sympathies. Second, no one has ever said Thompson never misses on a selection. But he sure has hit on a lot of them. Check the roster if you want. Lots of good young guys there, in case you haven’t noticed.

  38. Wisconsin77 says: Jun 22, 2012 4:12 PM

    ruvelligwebuike says: Jun 22, 2012 2:01 PM
    Still on Terrible Ted…after the Packers win the Super Bowl and then follow it up with a 15 win season?
    I called Brett last night. He asked me to tell you to stop worshipping him. He is just a man, just like…well, not you, but normal people.

    I never mentioned Brett. He left the Packers 4 years ago and the NFL 2 years ago. It is about time your Vajayjay stops hurting and you get over him.

  39. axespray says: Jun 22, 2012 9:48 PM

    Wisconsin77 says:Jun 22, 2012 4:12 PM
    “I never mentioned Brett. He left the Packers 4 years ago and the NFL 2 years ago. It is about time your Vajayjay stops hurting and you get over him.”

    says the doofus that’s still whining about a decision Ted Thompson made 4 years ago… smh

  40. gnarlswoodson says: Jun 25, 2012 12:45 PM

    lol sometimes I wonder why alot of you even try to contribute to this site. Some of you really know nothing about the complexities of the game which is fine, you cannot expect every casual fan to be able to do so, but at least most of those people keep their mouths shut. Does Aj Hawk peform like a fifth overall pick nowadays? nope. Did he when he was a 43 OLB for GB, the position he was drafted to play and played in college? yup. Is he a better fit for the 34 than Barnett was? yup. Aj Hawks job is to be the fullback of the defense and get everyone lined up. does he do that? yup, very well usually too. airnrodgers, I wish I could make you king for a day after that comment. LOL alex smith.

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