Hawk taking heat in Green Bay

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The Packers aren’t involved in the NFC title game Sunday, and that’s causing some soul searching in Green Bay.

Where did this season go wrong? What happened to the Packers defense during the season?

There are a lot of directions you can go with the answer, but Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel starts with one decision: Re-signing A.J. Hawk to a monster contract and letting Nick Barnett walk away.

Some highlights from McGinn’s article: “He’s just a guy. His contract is by far the worst contract that Thompson has ever enacted.”

And: “It’s beyond me how [G.M. Ted] Thompson can come back with Hawk as the starter next season. There even have been whispers among Hawk’s teammates. They know better than anyone else how little his game has to offer,” McGinn wrote.

Ouch. These words are so striking because McGinn is among the most knowledgeable, measured writers in the country. He believes the Packers need to trade or release Hawk in the offseason, which would mean D.J. Smith would take over for Hawk in 2012.

It’s hard to imagine that happening, but Hawk’s 2011 season has raised that kind of doubt in Green Bay.

108 responses to “Hawk taking heat in Green Bay

  1. It would be quite a cap hit to dump Hawk but if you listen to the games, you rarely hear his name called.

  2. .

    Packer fans will spend they’re remaining 9 months of winter breaking down game film like it’s the Zapruder tape.


  3. Face it, the Offense couldn’t score when it counted most in their playoff game.

    Keep it in perspective while hunting down the scape goats

  4. what another osu over rated buckeye in the NFL….. so shocked, v.gholston, bobby carpenter troy smith, and David Boston are rolling over in there bad football players graves

  5. He’s right, that was a surprising move last year to sign him to such a large contract and his whole body of work to that point was average. This year was even worse and if he comes back expect the same. Body like Tarzan play like Jane. Overpaid….the NFL needs an amnesty rule.

  6. Other than running, tackling, blitzing or covering, Hawk is fine. McGinn is right, a huge miss by TT. Hawk, and defense, had a few good weeks when Barnett was injured last year, but in 2011 he was less than just a guy. When Hawk was out, Smith provided more energy and production

  7. McGinn is right. Hawk is either two steps slow to the edge or he’s getting dragged during a tackle. Never makes a play. Hate to say it, but Pack fans have been saying it—— hope they do something about it.

  8. I would love for a release, have Buffalo pick him up. Use the first round pick elsewhere Hell we need fixes in multple positions.

  9. No surprise here, Hawk has been an enormous disappointment since being drafted. He is not much better than fellow Buckeye first round bust Barbie er, Bobby Carpenter.

  10. He is still 1000% better than Casey Mattress in Phila. Id take him. Straight up trade. Than Casey and his brother could have a hair growing contest

  11. Hawk is one of those guys whose image (rough face, long hair, etc) leads some to believe he’s a good player. Look at that old boy Hovan a few years ago, with the face paint and all that. Same kind of situation.

  12. How many passes did Hawk drop? How many wide open recievers did he miss? Maybe he isn’t all that great but he isn’t the reason there at home right now.

  13. Most Packer fans have known Hawk wasn’t as advertised from his 2nd year in the league. As average as he is though he wasn’t the sole reason the defense gave up a million yards a game. Lets not be a bunch of sore losers Pack fans.

  14. how is this affecting your stock prices….errr..I still dont get the stock….just dont get it….At least buy a jersey, it has the same, if not more value…you can wear the jersey…

  15. wait, are you telling me that an OSU stud when in the friendly confines of the JV league that is the Big Ten….looks marginal at best in the NFL???

    Now I’ve heard everything!

  16. Anyone dumb enough to believe that Nick Barnett is anything but a marginal starting MLB is beyond hope. There is a reason Buffalo’s defense was a laughingstock. There might be a reason Green Bay’s defense was similarly weak, but to claim that Barnett is better than anyone in the NFL is laughable at best. Enjoy him Buffalo, you won’t see the playoffs while he’s on the field.

  17. This is the team that gave up the most passing yards in NFL history. And they went 15-1?

    AJ Hawk may not be elite but he is not a weak link.

    Try the saftey position.

  18. If anyone’s over rated and overpaid its Charles Woodson. Been a great player but he stockpiled his league season INTs against the likes of Ponder and Hanie.

    He jumps a lot of routes and gambles a lot for his picks as opposed to intercepting passes through water tight coverage and athletic ability. Been a great player but for his salary and performances against good QBs and good WRs, he comes up second best all the time.

    See Hakeem Nicks TD catch, Woodson holds his left arm on a fade route and Nicks catches the ball with one hand. Woodson daps him out of respect due to sheer astonishment that Nicks was still able to catch the ball with one hand.

  19. Will be a long cold winter as fans sit at home and in the bars trying to get an answer for what they all thought would be a repeat.

  20. Thought it was just me. Now that I’ve read this I know I was correct, Hawk is so over rated, but the real problem is, Thompson spend a number one on this guy and to let him go makes a big dent in his ego.
    Personally Thompson is a number cruncher and his job if to keep the money in order. He let Cullen Jenkins, second best sacker this year, go to save a buck.

    If you watch Hawk, play in and play out, you will notice he is always the third guy on the pile. He knows how to jump in when the action is over.

    He is slow, poor tackler, afraid to take on big running backs and basically does nothing on the field. Get rid of him> Are you nuts he is a number one pick.

  21. Were are the calls of responsibility to all the dropped passes that the WR’s drop EVERY season. ONE guy on defense is NOT the cause of the epic fail in the playoffs. One guy can hurt a defense, but a group of guys underachieving (WR’s dropping so many passes) can, will, and does.

  22. This is primarily capers fault. Who wasnt a step behind this year. Our scheme was mostly zone this year which didnt put anyone in position. Hawk wasnt the only one. no one complained about hawk last season and thought tt was great for bringing him back. Hawk doesnt need to go anywhere the scheme needs to revert back to an aggressive style. Even cm3 suffered because of it. There isnt one person on defense that deserved a pro bowl this year.

  23. AJ Hawk = human speed bump = human weight sled.
    he can’t make a solo tackle at all. his best work is 9 yards down field falling on top of the pile. dump him, bring on Smithers!

  24. Are Packer fans gonna whine and cry all off season? You lost. GET OVER IT!!! That’s what happens when an outdoor team plays arena ball all year. Sooner or later it’s gonna bite ya. Worst 15-1 team in the history of the NFL.

  25. AJ Hawk and Clay Matthews got off the HGH and became “mortal” again, C. Woodson use to be elite but the past couple of years he has become another Darren Sharper, no coverage skills but a gambler who jumps routes (when he isn’t holding the WR due to his age), last year Tramon Williams was the cat’s meow but again , he and all the GB db’s excelled because of the huge leads the offense had and opposing teams could only pass to try and compete. When you think of any team with no defense and no running game you think of…..arena-style football and that’s what the Pack are. The Chiefs and Giants both developed a great plan for stopping GB, ignore the run, pressure Rodgers and play bump ‘n run with the WR’s as GB’s wr’s don’t like to be hit. Watch other teams do it more next year.

  26. Where’s the blame for Uncle Ted not doing a single thing to improve the defense this past off-season? Nick Barnett is so overrated. The defense got much better when he got hurt last year and Bishop came in. The problem is ZERO pass rush from the DL. The problem is Raji having to play almost every down cause there was ZERO depth. Ted actually starting believing his own hype that overachievers like Zombo and Walden would be able to step up and play above their ability for a whole season.

  27. Not having Nick Collins destroyed this defense. What a shame.

    Btw, the Packers have a pretty tough schedule next season so I don’t see 15-1 happening again.

    Oops, I meant 15-2.

  28. Letting C. Jenkins go was a big mistake.
    Woodson too old and too slow.
    C. Peprah middle name “toast”
    Tramon Williams one year wonder
    AJ and Clay missin’ their HGH
    Finley reads too many of his own write ups
    Can anyone name a Packer RB
    J. Jones hands of stone
    Driver, here’s lookin at you Minnie Pearl
    J. Nelson….lack of consistency

  29. As a non-GB fan, I’ve viewed Hawk as nothing but a bust, for every season at Green Bay. All sorts of hype behind the guy, and for what?… his college performances. As an Eagles fan I know something about mediocre LBs too!

  30. AJ Hawk – The best 3rd or 4th guy to the play tackler In the league. I bet he would have trouble covering me on a pass route, honestly. 5th overall pick makes him a BUST. Nice contract Teddy! Time to cut ties just like Harrell, another great 1st round pick…

  31. I think they’re looking at the wrong scapegoat but regardless, I wouldn’t be surprised if Smith won the job in training camp. I don’t know about releasing, or trading…injuries..long season…you need a guy a like that but if he does ride the pine next year, thompson releases him after next season. I doubt he makes a roster move with Hawk this upcoming season.

    Want a Scape Goat? Find the guy that teaches all of the secondary(except Sam Shields) to focus on the QB instead of covering their assignment. At least that happened multiple times per game for 17 weeks.

    This team doesn’t need roster moves or finger pointing, they need to play assignment sure defensive football and knock the QB off of his spot. Thats it. Not tackling, Not Splash plays, just cover your man and take away the target. Can’t let the number 1 and 2 options run free through the secondary. Stop trying so hard to get a INT and jump routes on every drop back. Good coverage can force bad decisions just like a blitz.

  32. Blame AJ Hawk, please blame him. Tell the Packers
    bras to blame him. Lay the entire burden on his shoulders. Go for it. Do it/ The Pack lost because of AJ Hawk. 1 player Great.
    Now that thats settled, Time to look for any more problems. O wait, the season starts tomorrow. oh-oh.
    I thought the Pack was a football TEAM. They failed as a TEAM. One man could not have caused this failure alone..Cause if the dont fix the TEAM problem, they will be the same again next year and lose again.
    So blame AJ Hawk.

  33. Making AJ Hawk the scapegoat for the Packer’s problems is really a cop out by McGinn. If he was truly paying attention he would have noticed what a huge loss Nick Collins was for that defense and the total lack of imagination of Dom Capers schemes this year. The entire defense including all the linebackers underachieved this year. AJ Hawk has only missed a couple of games since the Packers drafted him. AJ Hawk is not the geatest linebacker in the NFL, but to blame him for the Packer losing in the playoffs is really unfair.

  34. Hawk’s one of the MINOR weak spots of the defense.

    Lack of pressure in the front 7 mainly because of the lost of DE Cullen Jenkins to free agency and the injury of Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins in coverage.

    With no viable pass rush it forced the secondary to be picked apart on more occasion than once surrendering the most passing yards in the league.

    OLB/DE and Safety is this defenses main concern not MLB.

  35. 6ball says:Jan 22, 2012 9:57 AM


    Packer fans will spend they’re remaining 9 months of winter breaking down game film like it’s the Zapruder tape.


    At least we know what we’re looking at. And either that, or we can watch some footage of those 13 World titles.

    Every knowledgeable Pack fan knows that Hawk is overrated and cannot keep up with pass coverage, and really questioned Hawk’s new deal last time around. The absence of any pass rush to help Matthews after the loss of Jenkins and the injury to Colins were a huge blow. Woodson HAS to move to safety too…he just can’t compete at CBanymore, in my opinion. When there was a pass rush, there wasn’t a glaring issue. Mike Neal is a fraud…and that one is all on Thompson.

  36. Every couple of years someone comes up with a new wrinkle or gimmick, 46 defense, tampa 2, cover 2, 4-3, 3-4, 2 TE offense, spread offense, etc. etc……a couple of years ago, 3 teams decided to start playing Arena Football and forsake defense and any resemblance of a running game. It was cute and it worked but teams adapt and you saw the Chiefs and Giants figure it out and provide the blueprint to stop GB, 49’ers v. Saints and I suspect the Ravens will today against the other arena team the Pats. Ignore the running game, pressure the QB and play bump ‘n run on wr’s to throw the timing off their routes. As much as Goodell with all his rule changes wants to see offense, I’m glad to see some teams have already figured out how to stop this b.s. arena football.

  37. Wipackman1265

    with all the answers

    Vikings are in a rebuilding phase thats for sure, at least our fans admit it. delusional Pack KoolAid drinkers can’t take the fact that the book is out on your team and 15 win seasons aren’t gonna come so easy in the future. And as for girl beaters: Don’t make light of it especially when one of your own was arrested for it. (Eric Walden) Btw, Wisconsin leads the country in idiot binge drinkers. For those of you who are into records.

  38. talkintrashallday says: Jan 22, 2012 10:02 AM
    how come nobody mentioned his terrible play during the season? suspicious…

    Actually, there has been plenty of talk about Hawk’s lack of playmaking since he was drafted, especially since Matthews has come in and played at a level Hawk was expected to. However, seeing you are one of these clowns that only pays attention to the Packers when they fail, there hasn’t been a lot of opportunity for you to hear that over the last two seasons.

  39. asublimeday says:
    Jan 22, 2012 12:00 PM
    Are you hicks still crying into your beers? You lost. Season failed. Get over it.
    Actually with maybe the exception of one or two fringe fans (which every team has), the Packer fans in this thread have actually not whined at all. They’re posting measured and informed analysis of one of their players who may or may not be on the chopping block – you know, because the article was about a player on their team? Meanwhile you’ve contributed to this thread with a an inane, worthless and trolling comment.

    I think that makes you the hick sir.

  40. Funny what a year could do. I guess people don’t remember how instrumental he was in winning the superbowl just a year ago. I would take Hawk in a heartbeat.

  41. List 1 game, 1 game…they jus happen to lose the 1 wrong game. I hate the Packers, but Hawk wasn’t the problem. You have to have safeties and corners to defend the pass. That’s the starting point, but then…it was 1 game!!! And that wide open offense does not help the Defense at all!!

  42. Hawk is a decent player. He isnt the greatest LB in history, but he knows the game. Hawk’s problem is the defensive scheme brought in with Capers. Green Bay has a lot of talented players on Defense, but only a couple fall into the scheme. Matthews is great in the 3-4. Pickett is outstanding in the scheme. Problem is, there are 9 more guys who are 4-3 guys. Imagine Picket and Raji at Defensive Tackle. Then have Neal and a future player at end. Hawk, Bishop and Matthews playing linebacker with Matthews used in a blitz scheme. The DBs are good enough to cover if there is at least a scant amount of pressure. It isnt Hawk as much as it isthe fact that Hawk is a 4-3 guy and GB runs the 3-4.

  43. As far as Barnett goes.. He was creeping up on big trouble in a small Wisconsin town. Barnett lacks character and maturity. Sure, he is a solid player, but if he had stayed in GB he would have been under some sort of suspension before long. I am sure he is the same person in Buffalo, but he is small beans as far as trouble goes in a bigger city. The Packers organization doesnt like reading about their players in the newspaper unless it is in the sport section.

  44. Hawk is a pretty steady 4-3 OLB, but is a so-so 3-4 ILB. Either way, he isn’t the scapegoat of the defense. Just one of a handful, I suppose. I’d take him on my 4-3 defense any day.

    How about getting another pass rusher to help Clay III? That pass rush looked pretty ordinary this past season.

  45. Wow…just wow…a 15-1 season with a trip to the playoffs and they act like the season was a complete failure. Playoff losses happen. Appreciate the fact you won a super bowl last year.

  46. AJ Hawk, in hindsight, probably wasn’t worthy of a first round pick, but it’s unfair to lay the blame on him.
    This is on the coaches and mgmt of GB.

    That being said, this is no time to panic. The Packers still have a number of playmakers on the defensive side of the football. They have a very solid set of CBs (Williams, Shields, Woodson, Bush), and Clay Matthews is still a top-5 pass rusher in the league, even after underperfoming this season. Raji and Pickett are solid as well. GB actually played the run very well against the Giants.

    The Packers’ defense has gaping holes at the LB and safety positions. The middle of the field 5 -10 yards out is very soft.
    They need LBs and safeties who can pressure the QB. Eli Manning just destroyed them b/c he had so much time – you can’t expect the CBs to cover their men for like 6 – 7 seconds every single play.
    They also lack depth at every defensive position besides CB, so injuries really hurt them.

    But considering where the offense is now, the offseason could be focused completely on defense.
    And their coaching staff is smart. They’ll take a lesson from this past year and shore up the defense.

    I’m not worried in the slightest. This is still the most talented team in football. With Aaron Rodgers and those terrific young receivers, the offense will be top-5 for at least 5 – 6 years. That’ll get them to the playoffs every year. If the defense can even be average, GB will be a championship contender year in and year out.

  47. Sure he had no turnovers, but I didn’t think an 84 tackle season was terrible. Also watching the games, you saw Hawk around the ball a lot

  48. I wonder if the “team mates whispering” was the reason he gave the one-finger salute to his own bench during the season. That one-finger salute also got him a fine from the NFL office.
    He laughed it off as a ‘joke’ at the time, but I wonder.
    He makes many tackles 3-4 yards off the ball, but rarely makes a big play and McGinn pointed out his coverage skills are lacking, sourced by talking to coaches on other teams.
    Again, I ask the question: how can Dom Capers keep his job after his defense was dead last in the league?

  49. Hawk and 10 others on the defense (I use the term lightly) are only part of the problem, and actually a small part. Has it occurred to anyone but me that Capers is an idiot and should be fired? Put the blame where it belongs. What kind of defense let’s Manning sit in the pocket for hours and then to put on more pressure goes into a 3-4? I guess 3 can put on more pressure then 4. Can Capers!!!!!

  50. Nick Barnett isn’t a Packer because he talked his way out of town. He couldn’t keep his mouth shut during the playoffs last year and that’s what got him his ticket out of town. AJ Hawk has always just been a guy. I don’t mean to dump onhim and make it sound like he’s the reason the Packers lost to the Ginats (he wasn’t), but honestly, can you remember AJ hawk ever making a play that either changed momentum or won a game? DJ Smith’s interception against the Lions on Thanksgiving Day is exactly one more play than Hawk has ever made.

    I don’t blame TT for the picking of Hawk (Vernon Davis would have hated it in Green Bay and would be looking for the first chance out of town), but yeah, TT does need to take a bit of heat for giving Hawk the extension.

  51. When Hawk took over the defense last year after Barnett got hurt, the defense took off. This year don’t know what happened. Hawk wasn’t the same. Although me thinks that they may have missed Nick Collins a whole lot more than expected. Nick Collins did a lot of directing of the defense when he was back there as well.

  52. Little Earthquake says: Jan 22, 2012 10:22 AM

    So Ted Thompson and Dom Capers are mortal. The Packers will recover. They can’t all be aces.

    “Mortal”? According to literally everything posted here and elsewhere by Packers fans regarding the Green Bay Packers in 2011, not one member of that organization was even human. All Packers players and leaders/management were geniuses. The rest of the league, particularly anyone wearing purple, was an idiot without peer. Your buddies screamed that no season could be a success without a Super Bowl victory. And you lost before a worldwide audience; in fact you totally collapsed and showed your humanity and IMperfection.

    Just like these “Best fans in all of NFL football” to now go on the hunt for the scapegoat(s) for your humiliation.

    You utter hypocrite.

  53. Oh come on…..the writer acts like it was a big surprise that Teddy gave all that money to AJ. Teddy has been giving money to pretty boys with long flowing locks for years! The real question is, what did AJ give Teddy in return?

  54. The reason TT gave Hawk the big contract is because TT is light in the loafers and Hawk is sympathetic to gays.

  55. dragonfly99 says: Jan 22, 2012 11:31 AM

    Making AJ Hawk the scapegoat for the Packer’s problems is really a cop out by McGinn. If he was truly paying attention he would have noticed what a huge loss Nick Collins was for that defense and the total lack of imagination of Dom Capers schemes this year. The entire defense including all the linebackers underachieved this year. AJ Hawk has only missed a couple of games since the Packers drafted him. AJ Hawk is not the geatest linebacker in the NFL, but to blame him for the Packer losing in the playoffs is really unfair.


    Try reading the entire McGinn article. He’s the best beat writer in the NFL. And he’s not scapegoating just Hawk. He’s doing intelligent analysis on the entire defense, not just making uninformed posts on words taken out of context. Like yours.

  56. Well, Hawk has been the recipient of criticism for pretty much his entire run in GB; this isn’t exactly news. For all his ability as a writer, McGinn has the tendency to come in after the fact with stories that have been “obvious” all season long which he somehow never got around to mentioning before. He also likes to attribute whatever he happens to believe in to unnamed “scouts” or “personnel people.”
    Let’s not get all dewy-eyed about Nick Barnett’s time in GB. He had a tendency to overpursue and leave lanes open. So the Pack had a choice between a guy who took himself out of plays and one is is often a step slow. They picked their poison because Hawk helped them win a Super Bowl. And at least one Packer player said this year that Barnett got too hyper in the defensive huddles and players appreciated Hawk’s more even-keeled approach.
    After a defensive season like the Packers had, no one on that side of the ball is immune to criticism or to being replaced. Again, not exactly news.
    And all you Mini trolls – do you really have nothing better to do? You know, like how you’re always saying the fact that the Vikes suck doesn’t matter because of all the other stuff you have over there? So go to the ballet or start a riot at the Mall of America if you don’t want to worry about your 3-13 team. We’ll worry about all the problems with our 15-2 club, okay?

  57. “saw the Chiefs and Giants figure it out and provide the blueprint to stop GB”

    You mean like “force” the Packers to drop 8 uncontested passes, and fumble multiple times, half of which were completely unforced?

    The annoying thing about this is that cliche-sucking fans will use this as ammo to perpetuate the ESPN myths that they’re spoonfed.

    What if the Packers had beaten the Chiefs? Then that Giants game would have been proof that you shouldn’t go 16-0, because it means you’re primed for an upset. But “fortunately” the Packers dropped one, so we don’t have to listen to that idiotic drivel. Instead, we get to deal with this “blue print” crap. The ugly truth that most fans don’t want to admit is that the Giants didn’t really play that great of a game. Hakeem Nicks played a good game. Aside from that, the Giants didn’t do anything special. The Giants didn’t dominate — the Packers just puked all over themselves. They dropped easy passes and committed unforced turnovers.

    You want to know the “blue print” to beating the Packers? Play great coverage and get a great pass rush. Oh wait. I think that’s the “blue print” to beating pretty much every team in the league.

    What a bunch of geniuses.

  58. Okay, so Hawk didn’t play particularly well this season; especially under that contract. But that defense as a whole played poorly almost the entire season; bailing themselves out with turnovers. He was simply one piece of a larger problem and to single him out doesn’t hold the rest of the defense accountable for their sub-standard play.

  59. could have taken Vernon Davis instead of Hawk. Will always regret that one. Imagine Davis and Finley. SCHWING

  60. Please name 1 player that did play in Green Bay and hated it??? Is that why so many of them decide to remain in Green Bay after they retire?

    Funny… All the comments from the haters who’s team is so bad that they have to worry about other ones!!!

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