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Packers Blowing It With Bishop

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Packers Blowing It With Bishop

So let me get this straight - A.J. Hawk has been praised by Winston Moss and others on the coaching staff as being 'assignment sure' and yet time and again we saw Hawk out of position or just flat-out getting beat against the Bengals. Meanwhile Desmond Bishop sits on the bench, completely unused because the coaching staff, according to Tom Silverstien, is "committed to playing Hawk".

I tell you what, I may have to BE committed if this keeps up much longer...

As Jason Wilde pointed out when he appeared on Packer Transplants, the Packers no doubt are sticking with the player they feel will be rock solid, assignment-wise, over the player that, while he may make a few more plays, is prone to making mistakes as well. I'm having a hard time getting on board with this seeing as Hawk is making more than his own fair share of mistakes but STILL isn't making plays. Yes, he played the opener with more intensity than he's shown in years. So what? He was as dull and lifeless against the Bengals as he was energetic against the Bears. And he was completely taken out of the game by the Cincinnati o-line. Completely.

In the clip below, watch how Hawk abandons his responsibility trying to make a play, and in the process allows Benson about eight or nine yards. We saw Danny Lansanah run this in preseason a hundred times. Hawk's responsibility is to take out the gap between the center and the right guard - but for some reason he makes a last second adjustment and tries to shoot through the center of the line, or '0' gap as it is sometimes known. Of course, this does nothing but get in the way of everything that would have contained this play for a minimal gain. Take a look:

Meanwhile, Desmond Bishop, a player with some of the same limitations as Hawk in coverage but with twice as many big plays on his resume despite 1/100ths of the playing time, sits on the bench contemplating weather he should ask for a trade. This is a big-time screw up McCarthy, Capers and Moss. Big time.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (54) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

alfredomartinez's picture

i agree with you too. i have as well seen bishop shine for the past few preseasons and in between special assignmetns, thinking to myself why he aint seen more game time. i just dont understand why GOLDIE LOCKS HAWK its still getting more reps. is it because TT wont admit the fact that he, AJ, is in fact a draft bust (sounds a little drastic but work w me here), and will rather go down with his picks rather than to change personnel that would benefit the team.

cow42's picture

I highly doubt TT is the guy who decides who starts and gets the most PT.
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That's the coaches.
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With that in mind - I'm gonna assume that Dom Capers knows more about LB play than all of us. And thus is better than us at deciding who should be on the field.
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I don't want to believe that Packer fans are better at evaluating talent than Packer coaches... that would just be too depressing for me.

packeraaron's picture

Ted Thompson is not mentioned in this post...

cow42's picture

reply before mine he was.

John C Redfern  PBB's picture

In AN's defense, it's a great overview reaction about the Bishop article and a great sample clip analysis about Hawk's play in Bengals game. Further, his conclusions were reached by many other reviewers. Bloody awful@ An effective 3-4 defense must have active linebackers who brush off blockers, fill gaps, and hold edges with solid safeties. The writers know it and are writing about it in the past days. Again, as Packer Update noted from a scout in preseason, these are key missing elements for an effective 3-4. Lombardi would never have tolerated such performances, as another blogger pointed out, and made immediate changes. Not today. As one blogger heard from a scout, two LBs may not be with the Packers next year. Good work. Great analysis. Great site, folks!

John C. Redfern Senior Writer PBB

http://www.packerbackerblog.com/detail.asp?c=256417

CSS's picture

I'm not here to defend Hawk but I will be the first in line to ask why not replace Barnett. Barnett's play has steadily declined since late 07' and, in my opinion, he has an even more difficult tmie disengaging from blocks and gets caught in the wash far more frequently than Hawk. I feel Barnett is a poorer match with the 3-4 than Hawk. No, I'm not anti-Barnett and I could care less about his samuri celebrations. He's smaller, over pursues and gets blown off the ball.

AndrewInAtlanta's picture

I am so in agreement with this post. I simply don't get it. The guy blew everything up in preseason (just like last year) and once again he can't see the field. I mentioned this the other day - MM has a blind spot when it comes to certain guys. He says the best player will play but he doesn't put that into practice. Yes, the coaches know WAY more than any of us, but let's not pretend they are infallable (ref MM's last presser when he critiques some of his decisions). I'd love to know what Capers is thinking about this right now

jrarick's picture

Aaron, gotta totally disagree. Pickett was blown out of that play by 5 yards. He was at the point of attack and was continually pushed backward!!!. Had he held the point, the play would have been stopped for no gain.

Also, Chillar was completely knocked out of the play as well. Now, why have Chillar instead of Bishop on running downs, I have no idea.

packeraaron's picture

Sorry jrarick - watch Pickett's initial steps. He is supposed to head to his right in order to clear the lane for Chillar, who WOULD have been there to make the tackle, had Hawk not completely screwed up the design of the play. Chillar only gets 'knocked out' of the play because of the pile-up caused by Hawk's freelancing.

cow42's picture

watch popinga and jenkins. yeah - their job is to set the edge, but they gotta be able to get off blocks better than that. pop gets owned and then does what he does best...jumps on top of a player who's already been taken down. sweet missed tackle by rouse too. best hit in the whole video is kampan's take down of the ref.

jrarick's picture

Hey Aaron, really thanks for the great insight, and I don't mind being wrong. However, it appears that Hawk is in between the center and right guard. The Center and left guard are blocking Pickett to the left, leaving a huge whole between center and right guard, which Hawk fills and is taken out by a good block by the back. Am I missing something?

If I am completely lost, feel free not to reply. But I am confused.

Thanks!

jrarick's picture

Now, it does seem to me that these guys were taken out by any block. Why can't they fight through a block and make a play?That is more disconcerting.

packeraaron's picture

jrarick - No worries. The problem you're having is recognizing that the defense as it is called is not meant to have Hawk make the tackle - in fact, if he tries to, he'll screw it up, as he ends up doing. The whole point of this attack is for Hawk to blow up the A gap to the right side of the Center. This would take the guard and fullback out of the play. With Pickett stemming to HIS right, the hole is supposed to open up for Chillar to take the back. Instead, Hawk jumps back into the Zero gap, dead center, and creates a log-jam that takes Chillar out of the play and creates a massive hole in the spot Pickett has vacated. Pickett does his job by taking two guys with him, though the play is aided by the center flopping back into Chillar.

Ruppert's picture

Bishop needs to be in, and I don't care which 1st round pick he replaces. I know a defense can't have assignment breakdowns at any position, but...
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I would think that ILB in a 34 is one position where it might be worth it to risk a blown assignment here and there for added playmaking ability. If a CB or Safety blows an assignment, it's a TD. If an ILB blows an assignment, there's not quite the same amount of exposure. It goes from a 1 yard gain ro a 5 yard gain. However, an ILB can blow a play up and turn 2nd & 5 into 3rd & 9. Even a great plays by a CB is most likely an incompletion. Seems there's more reward for the lesser risk of inserting Bishop. And oh, yeah...that's if he DOES screw up. He might get in and do everything RIGHT. If nothing else, but Bishop in there to fire up the defense...right, Nick Barnett:)

Ron La Canne's picture

This topic enforces the fact that the 34 is not "shovel ready". It takes some time to get all components functional. As stated before, their will be hiccups along the way. I have confidence that last week was a hiccup and Capers is good enough to correct any of the problems.
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In support of AIA and Aaron's view, we as fans have seen the games. Pre-season and regular season Bishop has made plays. Hawk maybe assignment perfect, but correct me if I'm wrong, I have not seen him CLOSE. Please point to a play, any play, where you would say WOW that AJ is really getting it now.

jrarick's picture

Thanks again Aaron, amazing insight!

I have other questions about the love for Anthony Smith, and how the defense looked against 2nd - 3rd stringers in the preseason when he was playing, including against Arizona. But that is for another thread.

darthvander's picture

Amen. And I'm sure I'll echo most other comments here. But this is, yet again, the sexier draft pick winning out.

Who gives a shit how they graded out in college when they can't make a play in the pros.

Hawk has no fire. Bishop has something to prove. I think that alone should get Bishop the start on a D that looked like they didn't want to be there for most of the Cincy game.

CSS's picture

I'm all for calling out AJ Hawk and his play provided Barnett gets equal criticism. When will the posted clips of Nick be up? We're not giving him a pass here because AJ was the high draft pick, are we?

AndrewInAtlanta's picture

Have we heard much from Kevin Greene on any of this? We need to get Bedard to ask him a direct question re Hawk vs Bishop. I don't think all the PR coaching in the world would stop Greene from saying what he really thinks when he's pissed. I could really care less what Winston Moss thinks. What do Capers and Greene think?? Go get us the story Greg!

CSS's picture

You could care less what Winston Moss says yet executives and NFL types consider him one of the best young assistants in the NFL:

http://www.profootballweekly.com/2009/09/24/underrated-assistant-coaches...

I care what he says...

packeraaron's picture

CSS - Moss, from all reports, was a disaster in his interview with the Rams for their Head Coaching job. Should be interesting to see if he ever gets another shot...

packeraaron's picture

Also - I haven't really focused on Barnett's play due to his coming back from injury. Hawk is 100% and playing like crap.

retiredgrampa's picture

I'm very afraid that Bishop will become so disgusted that he tries to get traded at season's end...and gets his wish. He'll get more PT on another team and shine, I'm fairly sure. We'll get a 7th rd pick who won't make it through camp. There are none so blind as those who WILL not see. I feel for Bishop.

CSS's picture

I wish Moss the best, not sure how important the interview is, perhaps it's considered a primary assessment tool. Point is, he's a well respected assistant and I do care what he says. He has more experience than Greene at this point.

CSS's picture

Aaron - I can, without hesitation, say that Barnetts play last year was far worse than Hawks prior to Barnetts injury. I would love it if he proved me wrong this year and performs at a high level in this offense. He was eaten alive last year and completely lost in the wash. I'm not here to defend Hawk and completely agree with you that Bishop needs playing time.

That being said, it seems that fans like Barnett because he is 'flamboyant' and energetic while Hawk is, well boorish. All I know is that last year Hawk > Barnett.

jrarick's picture

I thought Barnett last year was a completely different player after getting two fines for illegal hits in the first two games. He was never the same after, then got injured.

AndrewInAtlanta's picture

CSS, all I'm saying is Moss has never said one thing informative from my perspective and he bombed in interviews last off season. Now most of the "not saying anything informative" is probably the "PR" training these coaches adhere to but I think if prodded Greene would come clean. Maybe I'm wrong. Not so much disrespecting Moss as much as would just love to know what Capers and Greene think. Bishop has never been given a real opportunity and that's a fact.

CSS's picture

Never disputed Bishop isn't getting an opportunity. I'm in line with everybody else asking, 'why not'? That being said, I don't think Barnett is long for the 3-4.

bleedsgreen's picture

Slightly off topic, but damn, packer fans should have a fundamental grasp of the language:

The phrase is "couldn't care less"... as in, you so completely don't care that it is not possible to care any less.

Oppy's picture

CSS, I agree completely with your statement about Nick Barnett not feeling the same heat as AJ Hawk.
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I think Nick Barnett is a very good 4-3 MLB who really excels in most areas but has always had one glaring weakness- getting free off of blocks.
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Unfortunately for Barnett, this isn't a Bates 4-3 defense we're playing anymore, where the two DT's in the middle of the line were used to keep the MLB clean to make plays. This is a 3-4, and while the NT is supposed to demand a double, the emphasis is on the DE's to keep the OLB's clean to make plays. While ideally you'd like to keep the Buck and Mack as clean as possible as well, it's expected that ILB's in a 3-4 will have to tangle with the G/C's from time to time in running situations and hold the point as well as come off of blocks to make plays. IMO, Barnett hasn't ever shown with any consistency that he can make a play when he has to work through a block, or stand his ground against a block. In open space, I'll take Barnett all day. In contact, he's sub-par.
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It may be entirely fair to discuss Hawk getting benched for Bishop, but why isn't anyone talking about Barnett being benched for Chillar? Barnett hasn't shown any appreciable advantage over Chillar at this point. Chillar covers better, Chillar is a threat in Blitz, and Chillar certainly can't be any worse at getting off a block.
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I'd rather have Hawk/Bishop on running downs than any other currently available combination, and I'd rather have Barnett/Chillar on passing downs than any other combination. Yet it seems the emphasis is on replacing Hawk more than using Bishop as a situational player.

AndrewInAtlanta's picture

Bleedsgreen - Seriously?? On a blog? With the few seconds I get during work to post? I'll refrain from putting into words what I'm thinking.

Ron La Canne's picture

To add a little more gas to this fire: I heard Brian Noble before the season started saying without equivication that niether Barnett or Hawk have the neccessary physical attributes to play the ILB poition in the 34. He said that will be a problem for Capers until either they change or they move more acceptable bodys to take over.
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After the first two games I'm inclined to think he has something there. I would say it isn't Barnett vs. Hawk. Its' both on the field together. Maybe you could get by with one if ther other was more suited to the 34, but both? I think that bringing in Bishop would help whoever the other backer is and thus improve the overall performance of the 34. Just sayin'!

packeraaron's picture

CSS - agree that Barnett was, if not terrible last year, then definitely not up to the standard he set in 2007 when he should have made the Pro Bowl.
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That said, I agree that Barnett is ill-suited to the 3-4. But a man can only write so much before work, family, life, etc. takes over his time. Now, if you'd care to pay me to post, I'll gladly focus on any area or player you would like me to... ;)

Dave's picture

So I'm a little late to the party here, but let me see if I understand your critique of the play in the video. You're contending that Hawk should run into his gap and stop? He should wait there just in case the runner should decide to stop, turn around and come back to choose that gap instead? I'm sorry, but that's the most asinine thing I've ever heard. Sure he has gap a responsibility, but he was there. No runs between center and right guard, check. After that his responsibility is to flow to the ball. By your rationale there would be one person making the tackle on each play, lest anyone else (heaven forbid!) leave their precious gap! I'm not going to jump into the debate about who should be playing and when, but if you're basing your argument on the evidence provided, it's just not going to hold water. The culprits on this play are Jenkins and Pickett.

bearmeat's picture

Aaron, I'm almost always on board with you - and in general, I think Bishop would be better than Hawk..

BUT

I don't see the "missed assignment" here. Benson is cutting back through the gap that the other ILB is supposed to have. The "0" gap is further to the right on this play.

I'm by no means an expert, but I call it like I see it.

Please correct me if I'm wrong.

packeraaron's picture

(sigh) No, Dave, that is actually not what I am contending he do at all. I am contending he DO HIS JOB. Where on EARTH did I say he should set down in the hole and stop? His JOB on this play is to take out anyone who comes into the gap, which, along with Pickett's DESIGNED movement to his right WOULD HAVE opened a lane for Chillar to make the tackle. It's called play design. Welcome to the party.

nerdmann's picture

I'm not big on Barnett. Hawk is ok, imo. But I've always been on board with Bishop. Remember last season when he stood up A-Pete on that short yardage play? I think it was 4th down too. Even knocked the ball loose.
Maybe we could trade one of these guys for a solid left tackle who doesn't false start.

Dave's picture

Even if Hawk and the fullback aren't in Chillar's way, he doesn't make that tackle. The chip block by the center was what knocked him down. Pickett likely was supposed to move right, but not 10 yards right. Jenkins and Pickett got sealed. Effectively. Period.

packeraaron's picture

Yep - Pickett def does not shed his block in an expeditious manner, but the 'chip' block (where the center basically falls into Chillar) doesn't happen if Hawk does his job. Because the tackle would already have been made.

Dave's picture

We're going to have to agree to disagree on this one.

VApackerfan's picture

The good news is that even if the RB gets tripped up or tackled down field we have Poppinga to jump right on him so he doesn't get up again. He's better at that than any other player in the league

jrarick's picture

Frankly, if we are depending on Bishop to save our season, we are doomed. One linebacker rotating and out is not that big a difference, nor are our backup safeties, as so many are making out. Tell Rodgers to make throws, the line to block and Jennings to catch the ball. Oh yea, Grant run a little. Then we won't be talking about who should be the 4th or 5th linebacker.

packeraaron's picture

Dave - there, we are in complete agreement. ;)
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jrarick - who said the season needed saving? I just want the best players to play...

bucky's picture

Yeah, I dunno. Seems to me Jenkins, Pickett and Poppinga- the whole right side of the Packer front 7- got blown 5 yards plus off the ball. It's still not clear to me who you think Hawk is supposed to take out, but Chillar gets taken down by someone that Hawk has no chance to get to. In short- Chillar doesn't make that tackle no matter what Hawk does on that play.

I'm with you on the general concept here, which is that Bishop needs more action. But this play isn't your best evidence for that assertion.

jrarick's picture

Touche!

But if we lose this weekend....put a fork in it.

Packsmack's picture

Matthews should never come off the field in favor of Poppinga. EVER. Poppinga should have been cut, but everyone got injured in TC but him, so he stayed. That, and he became Greene's buddy because they're both absolutely insane. He is God-awful and the cause of pretty much EVERYTHING that goes wrong on defense. I hate him with a passion.

Packsmack's picture

Also, to those saying Chillar wouldn't have made the play, you're being ridiculous. Had Chillar not had to hesitate because of Hawk, he could have had a full head of steam hitting the hole. Instead, he had to do a dance and try to wait until Hawk was out of the way, and by then it was too late.

green, gold's picture

I'm with you Aaron. I'm tired of Hawk. And this is coming from a guy who never says anything bad about any of the players. He just falls flat on his face in everygame. Here's a great example from last December.

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/09000d5d80db998e/Kevin-Smi...

Madman's picture

If you look at the film loop in stop motion you can see that Hawk takes a short route through the "0" gap cutting off Chillar. Hawk should have blown up the right guard and with it forced the fullback to help. What end up happening is the right guard had a short reach to tag Hawk (causing him to fall) and get a chip on Chillar preventing him from blowing up the play for a stop in the back field. And "YES" Poppinga sucks. I will keep saying that until the get rid of him.

Ben's picture

Aaron, you seem awfully sure of yourself in authoritatively stating what the "play design" was. You focus on this play and wail about Desmond Bishop. You could help your case -- not that it needs much help with this crowd of fellow Bishop-wailers you're preaching to -- by either A) providing more evidence of Hawk "screwing up" (i.e. more replays), or B) explaining why you believe the "play design" was what you say it was. You can't just look at a defense and say one particular player screwed up the play call when you don't know what the play was designed to look like -- and even if you could, it's foolhardy to focus on one play to this extent.

Ben's picture

Watching the play again, by the way, it seems like the center's chip block on Chillar would not have been affected by Hawk doing whatever you say Danny Lansanah did "a hundred times" in the preseason. Unless you're suggesting Hawk should have cleared to his left and simultaneously helped with the center to his right. Chillar had to run to the back, which led him past the center, who made an alert play. I just fail to understand the blogosphere's complete obsession with Bishop, I'm sorry.

packeraaron's picture

Ben - you're right, I can't be 100% sure of Hawk's assignment - but going back to his days in Carolina I have never, ever seen Capers call that blitz combo and seen the lead backer break into the A gap and then switch streams and go after the ball carrier. Ever. That's a lot of history suggesting that Hawk is in the wrong.
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There's no way on God's green earth the center gets to Chillar if the '0' gap is open as it should have been. Zero. Chance. Chillar at LEAST gets in the way of Benson if Hawk carries out his assignment.
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As for posting more video - I'd love to. I cut up and uploaded the video above at 3:30 am the other night. It took me 2 hours to do the video and write the post. I'd like nothing more than to spend my days cutting up video and comparing and contrasting players, but I do this by the seat of my pants while WORKING FULL TIME and raising three kids. All while trying not to have my wife throw me out of the house for being obsessed. I'm sorry you're getting the brunt of this but if I had a dollar for every time someone has belittled my effort on this sight I COULD quit my day job and do this full time.

Ben's picture

I certainly don't mean to belittle the effort you put into this site, because I enjoy it daily. And I hope you find the energy to continue putting out content in perpetuity. The only reason I responded negatively to this post is that I am really, truly sick and tired of hearing about Desmond Bishop. The knocks on Hawk strike me as cherrypicking, and the excitement over Bishop's limited resume (particularly given the coaching staff's apparent lack of enthusiasm) seems misplaced. I love fan analysis, but there's a certain line between what one could plausibly know about what they're seeing, and what they couldn't. You may be right about what Chillar would have gotten done on that play with a different action from Hawk, but I see it as speculative (you might disagree) and very narrow in focus when so many larger issues loom.
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So much happens behind the scenes that falling in love with a particular player on draft day or in preseason (see also: Tyrell Sutton), or endlessly ragging on a player who manages to cling to a roster spot against all outward evidence (see also: Jarrett Bush), or taking bewildering levels of umbrage at the snubbing of a player on the bench (see also: Desmond Bishop) occasionally seems counterproductive, especially given the amplifying echo chamber in which many of these things are discussed.
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In short, don't let the cold hard fact that the Packers are blowing it with Bishop raise your blood pressure. There are much more worthy things to threaten your health over, like the very tangible lack of an offensive line or a receiving corps. :)

bucky's picture

Aaron,

Anyone that belittles your efforts with regards to this site is an asshole. I'd recognize 'em if I saw 'em, because I'm one myself. But really, nobody is doing that.

What some people- including myself- are questioning is your analysis of one particular play. I understand your argument, I just don't see it on that play. What I see is one whole side of the D getting blown way off the ball. I don't watch as much film as you, but my limited experience playing for a very bad high school team tells me that most defensive plays aren't designed to have the nose tackle, defensive end and OLB blown clear out of the area code in the hope that the ILB from the other side may make a tackle. Seems to me having Pickett, Jenkins and Poppinga hold their ground a bit would have had a lot more impact on defending this run than Hawk's limited bit of freewheeling. At least he's trying to make a play; the other guys might as well have not been on the field.

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