The Invisible Man: A.J. Hawk
Let me start again by saying that I have been a long time apologist for Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson. I said it before and I will say it again – he did the right thing during the Brett Favre fiasco. However, some of the recent moves that he has or has not made have left me wondering.
Much has been made of his big time draft busts and for a long time, Total Packers has been pointing out that something is wrong with linebacker A.J. Hawk. We saw what seemed to take everyone else years to realize: A.J. Hawk is perfectly serviceable linebacker, but not a playmaker and his presence on the team has been fading fast.
In recent weeks, Hawk has seen his playing time severely reduced as it has grown obvious that he no longer fits into the Packers defensive scheme.
Here’s what I don’t understand. In a recent Green Bay Press Gazette article, Pete Dougherty matter of factly says the Packers may ask Hawk to take a pay cut next year or release him.
This comes just days after the NFL trade deadline. So why, Ted Thompson, if Hawk is no longer part of the team’s future plans, didn’t you trade A.J. Hawk while he still has value? There were plenty of teams (Eagles) that were desperate for a middle linebacker.
Also confusing – the consensus among Packers beat writers is that the team will also forgo resigning Brandon Chillar after the season, leaving the team with what? Desmond Bishop? If Bishop is being groomed to be the Packers new starting middle linebacker, why isn’t getting any playing time now?
The Packers could part ways Hawk and Chillar. They won’t let Bishop play. And next year they’ll let two of them go without getting any compensation and drop one of them into a starting role with almost no experience.
It can’t be good for team morale to let Bishop and Hawk rot on the bench. To their credit, they have not been disruptive in the locker room, but it’s obvious that both are unhappy.
Am I missing something here?
If the Packers start winning, all of this will be forgotten. But if the season goes into a tailspin, expect some of these strange personnel moves to be scrutinized even more.
Fore the record, I like A.J. Hawk. But maybe he summed up the problem himself.
“Maybe I sometimes unconsciously — I’m trying to be a solid, steady, consistent-type guy, but you have to find a good balance from being a consistent guy to actually making impact plays and getting (tackles for losses) and interceptions and doing things like that, which I haven’t done a lot of recently, obviously.”
Quotes like that probably make Ted Thompson and the rest of the coaching staff cringe. They didn’t draft him to be only consistent. As a top five pick, he was supposed be Ray Lewis with long blonde hair.
Either way, the Packers’ reluctance to address the issue has created an awkward situation. What do you think they should do?
Steffen grew up in Milwaukee, Bowler and Neenah Wisconsin. He is a UW-Stevens Point grad and currently works as a television producer in Los Angeles.