We’ve been hard on Green Bay Packers inside linebacker A.J. Hawk over the years, and with good reason.
Hawk was the fifth-overall selection in the 2006 NFL Draft and he simply hasn’t lived up to that lofty status. Hawk has always been a good guy and a hard worker, but when you’re a linebacker selected with the fifth overall pick in the NFL Draft you should be a defensive terror, a playmaker and you should have multiple Pro Bowls under your belt by the time you reach your fifth season.
Hawk has been none of those things.
In fact, Hawk’s rookie season has been his best thus far.
Hawk racked up 119 tackles and 3.5 sacks, 2 interceptions and a forced fumble in 2006. The past two seasons, Hawk has made less than 90 tackles and has had varying results in the playmaking categories.
The good — 2 interceptions in 2009, 3 sacks in 2008. The bad — 1 sack in 2009, zero interceptions in 2008, zero forced fumbles either year.
That’s to say nothing of the countless times Hawk has taken a bad angle on a tackle or been run by or around by a faster player.
Still, we’ve been hearing the refrain for years. This is the year Hawk breaks through. This is the year Hawk lives up to his draft status. This is the year Hawk develops into a playmaker.
Well, I’ve got news for you. If it was going to happen, it would have happened by now.
Of course, that won’t stop the local media from doing another story on how this is the year for Hawk. Rob Demovsky recently took a look at what Hawk plans on doing to take his game to the next level.
“This will be my fifth year, and I just want to come out and have an impact and make some big plays and try to change the tide of games,” Hawk said. “Of course, I want to be consistent as always. But I feel like I know the scheme even better this year, and I think I will be able to find a way not to steal plays necessarily, but when you can take chances and jump on routes and do different things.”
While I can appreciate the fact Hawk realizes he isn’t playing up to expectations, I’m not sure if taking chances is what the Packers need.
Hawk simply isn’t a taking chances type of player. Players who can take chances are players like Rod Woodson, Deion Sanders and Ray Lewis. Those guys could take chances because they had the speed to recover from their mistakes.
A.J. Hawk doesn’t have the speed to make up for his mistakes.
Unless A.J. Hawk guesses exactly right when he takes a chance, he’s going to give up a huge play.
The Packers linebackers coach, Winston Moss, doesn’t exactly sound as if he’s completely down with Hawk’s plan.
“If (he’s right), I’ll pat him on the back,” Moss said. “If not … ”
The Packers decided to keep Hawk around this season, despite a salary of $4.123 million and the fact he’s only a two-down player. Hawk comes off on passing downs for Brandon Chillar, who is better in the pass rush and in coverage.
Hawk is scheduled to make $10 million in 2011. The Packers won’t pay him that, even if he does have a huge season in 2010.
In all likelihood, unless Hawk somehow magically turns into a playmaker, the Packers will move in a different direction after the season.