Hawk enjoying best start in his Packers career
A.J. Hawk. Image by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
I had the great pleasure of attending, then moderating the player segment of the Green Bay Packers Corporate Luncheon in Milwaukee on Tuesday.
The player guest happened to be Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk who, in my opinion, is off to the best start of his eight-year NFL career.
Hawk was the fifth overall pick in the 2006 NFL draft following an All America career at Ohio State.
When I first met him that draft weekend my impression was; “Hawk is a classic Green Bay pick.”
A.J. was all things football, dedicated to his craft, a weight room junkie, a Midwest guy who personified the singleness of purpose that is Green Bay in the fall.
The football people have a formula called the three-A's: ability, accountability, and availability.
In this day and age around the NFL “availability” (the most important of the three As) is in short supply.
But Hawk has appeared in 115 of a possible 117 games in his career. With all the injuries the Packers have endured over the past three years, that fact in itself is remarkable!
For many, dependability was not good enough for so high a draft pick.
Many fans expected the fifth pick in the draft to become an immediate, difference-making star from the moment he stepped on the field.
They were looking for the attention-getting stats like sacks, forced fumbles, tackles behind the line of scrimmage and game turning plays.
What they got was an assignment-sure inside linebacker, who has led the team in tackles a half-dozen times.
Previous to this season, in seven campaigns he made 13.5 sacks, eight interceptions, two forced fumbles and four career fumble recoveries.
Hawk, who coordinates the linebacking corps, is one of the glue-players in the Green Bay defense. He made a Pro Bowl in the Super Season of 2010.
This season, in my humble opinion, A.J. is playing his best football.
In the slugfest at Baltimore, Hawk played the game on the Ravens side of the line of scrimmage.
He led the team with 10 total tackles, eight solos, but made three sacks, five tackles behind the line and had three quarterback hits.
Finally, a game to satisfy the critics!
Again, Hawk leads the team in tackles with 52 total tackles, 36 solo, 3 sacks a fumble recovery and a pass breakup.
In reality, Hawk personifies reliability, but this season he is making more impact plays because as he pointed out, the people in front of him are playing at an exceptional level.
In the Packers defensive scheme, the three big people on the line must tie-up blockers and allow the linebackers to flow to the football.
So credit Ryan Pickett, B.J. Raji, an improved Mike Daniels and the return of Johnny Jolly with controlling the line of scrimmage and allowing A.J. and the rest of the defense to do its thing — sometimes in the other team’s backfield.
Personally, I am happy for A.J.
I have always felt the Packers got great value with that fifth pick in the 2006 draft because with that pick they got a consummate player, a great teammate, and a solid member of the community.
There is no doubt A.J. Hawk fits into any era of Packers football from Lambeau, Lombardi, Holmgren and - of course - today.