Packers Doing Everything Possible To Continue A.J. Hawk’s Tenure

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After telling us a week ago that linebacker A.J. Hawk didn’t necessarily have a bad season in 2011 despite all the evidence to the contrary, the Green Bay Packers are apparently now trying to quash any competition for Hawk’s spot before it begins.

That competition would come from second-year player D.J. Smith, who outplayed Hawk when he was in the lineup last season.

Well, the Packers are having none of the controversy that might come from someone actually being able to challenge (and probably beat out) Hawk for the starting spot. Just ask Smith, who says he doesn’t even play the same position as Hawk.

Smith has been positioned as the backup to Desmond Bishop at the mack inside linebacker position, while Robert Francois — who you cold argue also outplayed Hawk last season — is the backup at Hawk’s buck inside linebacker position.

“You can say it’s kind of minor, but it’s kind of a big difference,” Smith said. “It’s still a middle linebacker, but one position (Hawk’s) has more responsibility than the other. When it comes to A.J.’s spot, he’s the signal caller. He’s the guy that runs the show. He’s the quarterback of the whole thing. He gets guys lined up, ready to go and makes all the checks when things switch around.”

Really? Bishop says the positions are pretty much the same, completely contradicting Smith’s statement.

“It’s different, but at the same time, it’s pretty much the same,” Bishop said. “I guess you have different responsibilities. They’re interchangeable for the most part.”

So, it’s all clear as mud now.

Actually, we’re pretty sure Smith is just regurgitating a company line. When both he and Francois were in the starting lineup last season, Smith wore the headset and called all the plays. That sounds like interchangeable responsibilities to us.

All the evidence says he should be able to compete for Hawk’s starting spot.

Although defensive coordinator Dom Capers says there will be competition at inside linebacker, everyone has stayed away from saying there will be any competition for Hawk’s starting spot.

This is probably something that will unfold quietly, but our bet is there will come a point in time — either in training camp or during the season — where Smith will start to take snaps away from Hawk.

Obviously, the Ted Thompson regime still doesn’t want to admit A.J. Hawk is a bust, but Smith is likely to force their hand eventunally.

About The Author

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.

9 Comments on "Packers Doing Everything Possible To Continue A.J. Hawk’s Tenure"

  1. MnPacker

    In Hawk’s defense, is there anyone on the defense that had a “good year?” He can bounce back. If he doesn’t, Smith will get his shot.

  2. iltarion

    I think it is pretty simple. The coaching staff doesn’t trust Smith to make the calls. Obviously. They think he is a better player when he reads and reacts. The same goes for Bishop.

    Francois has the size to take Hawk’s spot. That is also a likely factor.

    Stop with the conspiracy BS, TT regime, nonsense. TT doesn’t decide who starts. If MM thought Francois or Smith were better players, then they would be out there. TT doesn’t make that call.

  3. There’s obviously something that the Packers know that we don’t. For the most part he’s stayed healthy and he’s done a good job (at least better than the rest) at making the defense calls.

    I can’t really see how you can question Ted Thompson and call this a conspiracy. This site is starting to sound a little like a fair weather fan.

    • Vijay

      No BOB, you should always be able to hold your team and its management accountable for their decisions. If not, then why watch any games at all? Every sport around the world has fans who believe in their opinion when it comes to how their clubs are managed and which players should excel in certain situations. It’s never going to stop nor should it. I for one LOVE debating the whole management issue. I’m not alone either.

      • iltarion

        VJ, you make a case, but you err in suggesting that THIS particular argument is rational. It is not. Monty attacks AJ Hawk simply because he doesn’t like him, period. That is well-established TP fact by now.

        People want to hate on Hawk because he’s never been a big play guy, fine.

        But what the guy does is show up and play every single game, and that is something that MM and TT preach.

        A big reason why Hawk had a career low in tackles last season is because he got injured during the Lions game and the coaching staff sat him for a couple games. If people would remember, Hawk was pissed off about it because he wanted to play.

        Hawk has a lunchbox mentality and keeps his nose clean. Management loves that. If he is overvalued, it is because of that. It has nothing to do with where he was drafted or by whom.

        I will close with three facts.

        1) No player drafted 5th overall since Hawk was drafted has started in a Pro Bowl either.

        2) The Packers ranked in the Top 5 in overall defense in 2009 and 2010. AJ Hawk was a starting inside LB on both defenses.

        3) AJ Hawk was the defensive signal caller when the Packers won the Super Bowl in 2010.

        Yeah, not a bad resume.

        • Monty

          Itarion, I rarely call you out, but I’m going to now.

          First, I don’t hate anyone on the Packers. I merely call a spade a spade. To your points:

          1. Anyone drafted in that position who’s been in the league five or more years that hasn’t made a Pro Bowl or isn’t considered among the best at his position is a bust. You can’t compare the guy drafted No. 5 last year or the year before because they’re still developing. Hawk is as good as he’s going to get, and the production doesn’t equal his draft status.

          2. So? Ten other guys played on those defenses as well. Charles Woodson won defensive player of the year one of those seasons. Clay Matthews almost won it the next year. Look at the catalysts of those defenses – Woodson, Matthews, Nick Collins. Hawk wasn’t the catalyst of anything. In fact, he was almost replaced by Brandon Chillar.

          3. Again, so? It’s not like that makes him a rocket scientist. The Packers handed the same job to a rookie sixth-round pick last season when Hawk got injured and he actually handled that AND played better than Hawk.

          Your move.

          • Ivomitonvikingfans

            Hear Hear…. Sums Hawk up pretty well. It’s like they drafted George Cumby with the No. 5 pick. I also do not hate or root against the guy. He just looks slow and lost out there at times and it appears there may be some younger, faster, cheaper and hopefully better tackling options right now. I wish him well and if he were to suddenly turn into a monster tackling machine then I will gladly be wrong.

          • iltarion

            Monty, wow, a rare long comment. Nice to see it.

            So, in your opinion, anyone who gets drafted #5 overall should, by the mere fact of their college performance and draft result, become a top player at their position. Otherwise, they are a bust.

            Okay, that’s fine. But then the VAST majority of those picked in the Top 10 are busts, per your definition of it. And since the majority of players picked are busts, then being a bust, per se, isn’t a big deal. It is only the norm.

            I would say a guy who is about to start his 7th season in the league, started virtually every year, missing very few games to injury, and is a Super Bowl champion is NOT a bust.

            Could he be a disappointment based on his draft position? Sure. But not a bust. Justin Harrell is a bust. There is a difference.

            So, our difference really doesn’t come from our opinion of Hawk; it comes from our definition of what a bust is.

            Perhaps you have different levels of busts. Perhaps Hawk is a mild bust while Harrell is a major bust while JeMarcus Russell is a colossal bust. I don’t know. Maybe that’s how you role.

            To me, those latter guys are busts; Hawk is just mildly disappointing.

            2. Okay, no argument.

            3. Yes, the Packers handed the job to someone else, and they aren’t going to hand it to him again. I think this article kind of answers your point there. IF he played better, as you contend, then he would still be in that role, right now. So, obviously, the coaches don’t agree with your assessment. Doesn’t mean they are right. Just saying…

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