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A.J. Hawk Rightly Draws Attention to Dirty Play by Falcons Offensive Lineman

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A.J. Hawk Rightly Draws Attention to Dirty Play by Falcons Offensive Lineman

With just over two minutes remaining in the game and the Packers clinging to a slim one-point lead this past Sunday against the Falcons, A.J. Hawk lost it.

The Green Bay linebacker had a conniption on the field, an eruption of emotion directed at Atlanta center Joe Hawley.

Hawley had just dived at the side of Hawk's leg roughly 10 yards downfield from the line of scrimmage, an exceedingly dirty play and a potentially devastating blow had Hawk not been wary enough to hop out of the way.

It wasn't the first time Hawley tried to cut him down that game, a previous instance coming just minutes earlier. Hawk knew what could be coming. 

Screenshot from Fox broadcast.

The block by Hawley with a little over eight minutes left in the fourth quarter was perfectly legal, coming at the inside linebacker from straight-ahead with very little chance of injury.

It was a different situation six minutes later, however. Hawley dives at Hawk's knees from an angle, his helmet clearly behind Hawk's legs, visual proof that he did not come at the defender from the front.

Screenshot from Fox broadcast.

If Hawk's leg is planted in the ground, the knee would collapse, ligaments would likely be torn and his season effectively ended.

Hawk had every right to throw a fit and draw attention to something that's not kosher and shouldn't be tolerated in professional football.

"It could have been one of those plays that was my season," Hawk told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after the game. "But I talked to (Hawley) afterward and he said it wasn't intentional."

The chop block by Hawley got Hawk breathing fire, as he explained after the game.

"I would equate it to one of those situations where something happens and you black out and start saying stuff and don't hear what anybody else is saying. That was the case.

"I was still (conscious) enough to know I wasn't going to do anything stupid. I wasn't going to punch him, I wasn't going to head butt him. I had enough sense to at least not do that."

The question now is whether Hawk's antics are enough to draw attention from the league offices of the NFL. Hawley wasn't flagged by officials on Sunday but could be fined for actions later this week.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (51) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Derek in CO's picture

the Dirty Birds

PackerPete's picture

Well, I'm one of those geeks who is watching NFL Network with press conferences etc when I'm working out myself. One thing I noticed over the past few years was no matter who was interviewed, the Atlanta OL and the Detroit DL players were always mentioned as playing particularly "dirty". So I am not surprised. And come on man, that hit was intentional. I'm glad Hawk didn't retaliate, though...

nunobow aka Benny's picture

It that hit wasn't intentional... Hawley has a serious problem controlling his body. He should seek professional help to solve that.

Nerd's picture

This team doesn't have goons. The officials are CLEARLY not going to protect our guys.

We need to get some guys who will.

Al Fresco's picture

Cudo's to Hawk, his game really came around this year. I've been on this guy like melted tar on a 110 road service the past few years but this year, he showed what he could do. Our best d player by far.
Maybe its me but I think were waisting Mathews talent. Put him in the middle to help stop the run, get into the QB's face and or drop back and cover the tight end. His role right now is doing nothing. He's being handles by just having someone tie him up.

Derek in CO's picture

If Hawk is our best defensive player by far, I think we can all quit right now. Are you serious?

Tom's picture

I agree 100%. I'm glad someone on here has been watching the same game I've been watching. There are so called experts on here, that don't know the difference between a linebacker, & the guy who sells hotdogs. You couldn't have said it better. Anyone who thinks Hawk is good linebacker, probably walks with a German Shepherd & a White Cane.

Gary's picture

Hawk has obviously stepped his game up this year, but that's not saying much. He's consistent, I'll give him that. Matthews was double teamed over 50% of the time yesterday, and was constantly being chipped by RB's. In a perfect world, his contributions would show up as other players take advantage of their one-on-ones. What makes Matthews seem "invisible" on a day like last Sunday, is that Neal and Perry don't consistently take advantage of those situations. Though both are getting better, I think. I just wish to Dog that Capers would flip flop Matthews and Perry. Perry is obvisouly much more consistent and threatening from the right side and Matthew can truly make plays from anywhere. Why not give Perry the best chance to make an impact? Am I missing something?

jc's picture

Mathews is also better from the right side remember he played the left side and wasn't as effective. But I agree with moving them around more.

jc's picture

I would love to see the Packers replace Hawk with a more athletic complete linebacker. That said you can't deny Hawks production this season. He is currently 12 overall in the NFL in combined tackles and assists and has 5 sacks. Not too bad.

Richie's picture

You are literally describing Matthews' current role on the team. He stops the run, gets pressure on the QB, and drops into coverage.

Derek in CO's picture

I think 99% of us will agree, Hawk is an average LB. He stops the run ok, but can't shed blocks and can't cover. he's not what I would've hoped for in a top 10 draft pick.

fish and crane's picture

We only need average...when 12 is back

egbert souse's picture

Average on a good day against the run. On pass coverage, he couldn't cover my 90 yr. old invalid grandma with a comforter.

Tom's picture

I couldn't agree with you more, except to say, "I don't even consider him average on a good day against the run. I think he's PATHETIC!!" Pass coverage?? Don't make me laugh.

KennyPayne's picture

AJ Hawk is not average. Not this year, not ever. He is currently rated #47 of 52 inside linebackers by ProFootballFocus with a -12 rating overall.

Oh, and he remains way, way overpaid at $5.2M.

It is amazing how this guy is such a mediocre to poor player has been paid 10s of millions of dollars by the Pack for very little return but yet he continues to be a favorite of the press.

4thand1's picture

Maybe because he's the only one who can stay healthy. The game has sped up so much. Hawk was born 10 years to late. There are very few ILB's that can stay with the TE's of today and running backs. Always a mismatch that offenses exploit.

4thand1's picture

That's hard to believe with his stats. Is he rated low because he doesn't have dreadlocks?

Point Packer's picture

No, its because he is slow. Among other things.

fish and crane's picture

but at least he's not outside linebacker John Anderson slow.....if CHTV were around then.

Tom's picture

You couldn't have said it better, but I think I can. He is without question, the worst starting inside linebacker in the history of the Green Bay Packers, & maybe the NFL. How he can command the salary he gets, is beyond me. Don't throw his stats at me, 98% of his tackles are made 5 yards or more from the line of scrimmage. A waste of what I believe was a 5th pick. We cut Barnnet, because he was a little older, & was getting $6 mill & Hawk was getting $5 mill. That was as big a mistake as letting Cullen Jenkins go. I said last year, to cut Hawk & Finley, & try to keep Jennings. The experts on here jumped all over that one. Who was right??
If they started anyone else on Sunday, you'd never see the difference. Oh & 1 more thing. Hawk stays healthy, because he's always on top of the pile, instead of in it.

4thand1's picture

LOL, what he do to piss you off? Sounds like a personal grudge to me. I guess that's your problem. Cullen Jenkins HA! I have laugh. He's done nothing since he left GB. Jennings proved his worth, Rodgers and Farve made him. Finley is worth his weight in gold because defenses have to account for him. And finally Hawk is not the worst ever, you lose on all counts. FAIL!

KennyPayne's picture

Jenkins may not have done anything since he left GB, but AJ has done even less since he stayed in GB -- after TT gave him a 2nd enormous contract, and he has cost the franchise a lot more $$$.

Time for this overrated stiff to hit the road.

Tom's picture

Finley??? He couldn't catch a cold. I have no personal grudge against Hawk. I've gotten tired of watching runners run up the middle & #50 chasing after them. My point on Jennings, was only that we don't have Finley, & may as well not have Hawk. We'd have something with Jennings. I'd like A.J. to be a Tough linebacker in the middle, but he just can't do it. The last 4 games speak for themselves. He's been a Non-Factor. Maybe he'll read some of these posts & start stopping runners at the line of scrimmage. Cullen Jenkins was a damn good player when we let him go. I think you're wrong. He's still playing pretty well, & would still be a factor for us had we kept him. I'd like it if A.J. would do well & help out the defense, but he's not. He needs to be much more involved.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Waste of a 5th overall pick? Ok. Who should they have drafted? Out of AJ Hawk, Vernon Davis, Michael Huff, Donte Whitner, Ernie Sims, and Matt Leinart, who would you have rather had?
Those were the 5 players picked after Hawk. At the position they were in, who would you have rather had?

Evan's picture

Well, obviously, Vernon Davis...I remember being torn about the two at the time. But we had a young and healthy Bubba Franks, so it's hard to fault passing on him.

cLowNEY42's picture


Evan's picture

I was gonna go with Ngata too, but would he have made sense for the 4-3?

And since he went 12, how much of a reach would taking him 5th have been?

EDIT: Looking over some 2006 mock drafts, a lot of writers had Ngata going in the top 10 (a lot to Buffalo at 8), so getting him 5th wouldn't have been unreasonable, especially with Grady Jackson's age.

All that said, Hawk was a consensus top 5 pick so I don't really think anyone can fault TT for taking him. Extending him, sure, but not drafting him.

Tom's picture

I didn't mean a waste at the time. A.J. won the college linebacker award. I thought it was a good pick at the time. In my opinion, Barnett was the better of the 2, even though he was older. A.J. has never had the greatest supporting cast, so I'm backing off some. I wish they could just start stuffing the run.

4thand1's picture

WTF. A typical Packer injury. 4-6 weeks turning into 7. The Packers are preparing for Dallas with Flynn as the starter. High scoring affair with 40+ points winning. Can the Packers score that much with Flynn? Dallas D is really shitty, that's an insult to shitty defenses everywhere.

cLowNEY42's picture

He ain't comin' back.
Stop expecting it to happen.
You'll feel better.

Point Packer's picture

Sad, but very likely true. After today, seems unlikely. But then again, who knows. Maybe he'll pull a Walt Frazier.

The TKstinator's picture

Who's "he"?

cLowNEY42's picture


The TKstinator's picture



4thand1's picture

I'll feel better when its officially over. Until then GOPACKGO.

Tom's picture

I personally hope they go with Flynn. I wouldn't want to see Rodgers out, all next year. Give Flynn a chance. We're going against a big trend, no matter who starts. No wins in 25 years. Favre couldn't win there. I think we have a chance with Flynn, Why Not? He can't do it alone though, & he would have to play well. I think it's possible. I haven't seen a line on the game yet??

cLowNEY42's picture

"Why Not?"


Tom's picture

Yes, Seriously!! Do you think it's worth the risk, to start Rodgers??
If by some miracle, this team makes the playoffs, do you think they're built to make a deep run?? What would you say if Rodgers played, & broke his Collar Bone. & Yes, I think it's possible, unlikely, but possible we could win with Flynn.

cLowNEY42's picture

I do not think the Packers will make the playoffs.
I do not think they would do squat if they did.
I do not think they should risk Rodgers.

I asked "Seriously?" because I'm surprised that anyone might think the Packers would have a chance of beating Dallas in Dallas with Flynn.

Yes - the Bears smoked Dallas... but the Bears are much more talented offensively than the Packers. And the Cowboys won't be freezing their asses off like they were in Chicago.

This will be an absolute blowout.

Too many offensive weapons for the Cowboys.
Not enough defensive playmakers for the Packers.

Pack O w/ Flynn won't score more than 20-24 points (probably more like something in the teens). Anyone think the Packers' D can keep Dallas in the teens?

I felt a win vs ATL.

I feel an embarrassment coming from Dallas.

Tom's picture

Ok, I understand, & I don't disagree with your thinking. I misunderstood your comment. Green Bay won against Atlanta, but they didn't cover, if you know what I mean. I hope all the money in the world is on Dallas next Sunday. There is No Line as of yet.
As I said, we're up against a 25 year trend. I would never go against that. Do I think we have a chance? Slim, but yes.

The TKstinator's picture

Dirty AND illegal?
Maybe since it's not a concussion no one in the league office will care.

SoTxPhil's picture

Hawk had his best games when B. Jones was hurt and Lattimore took his place. Both them were blitzing more and getting sacks and tackles behind the LOS. As soon as Jones came back the def changed for the worse and hawk just runs around behind the LOS and makes late tackles or chases the RB or TE out of the backfield while they make a 10-15 yd gain. I was happy to see Jones go out at the end of the game and Lattimore come in only to get hurt on his first play, but it was good in the bigger scheme because J. Bush replaced him in the dime and made 2 great plays to let the Pack win. I wonder who is going to join Hawk this week in Dallas???

Tom's picture

I agree!! Why do some people see this so differently??

The TKstinator's picture

SHOULD a defense with this kind of play by the safeties blitz a lot?

RunAndHyde's picture

Definitely....if you blitz it gives the qb less time to expose the crappy safeties.

The TKstinator's picture

Or they get burned...just quicker.

The TKstinator's picture

(In the unlikely event that the blitz doesn't get home, or provide adequate pressure)

Icebowler's picture

We were lucky to survive the Falcons game without any concussions. Falcons Safety Moore is a headhunter, just like Meriweather of the Skins. He has been fined almost $100K this year.

G-man's picture

clowNEY have to agree with you today!

Al Katraz's picture

I've been down on AJ like a beaten mule for three years and this year I think he is the packer player of the year with Lacy second. Congrats AJ on a fine year.

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