Stand pat: Packers shouldn't rush to trade for RB
Trade proposals have been en vogue throughout Packer Nation over the past week or so, pretty much since it was learned that running back Ryan Grant would miss the rest of the season.
Seemingly everyone has been putting together some sort of trade package so the Packers can acquire Marshawn Lynch from the Buffalo Bills, or Brandon Jacobs from the New York Giants.
Many of those packages include linebacker A.J. Hawk, the 2006 No. 5 overall draft choice, who has been a starter since his rookie season for the Packers but has never been able to live up to expectations.
The Packers need Hawk, however. It doesn’t matter that he hasn’t met the lofty expectations placed upon him since coming out of Ohio State as an All-American. In fact, the Packers need every little bit of depth they’ve collected if they’re going to make a Super Bowl run this season.
Hawk showed he can be a valuable, contributing member to the defense—like he did this past Sunday—when given the chance.
It helps that the Packers have a creative tactician in defensive coordinator Dom Capers, who knows how to make the best use of his personnel and puts his players in a position to succeed.
One week after playing exactly zero defensive snaps against the Philadelphia Eagles in the season opener, Hawk started in the base defense against the Bills, which was used primarily on first downs when there’s a decent chance the opponent will run the ball.
Capers also devised two nickel defensive packages, one utilizing Hawk and defensive lineman Ryan Pickett suited to stop the run. Another featured linebacker Brandon Chillar and defensive lineman B.J. Raji in their place, more appropriate to defend the pass.
The result was Hawk tying Nick Barnett for the team lead in tackles with nine, in addition to two quarterback hits on Buffalo’s Trent Edwards, thanks to a defense befitted to his strengths.
Even though Hawk had a good game against the Bills, there’s every chance he’ll be sidelined again in favor of Chillar once the Packers face another team heavily geared toward passing.
But that doesn’t mean Hawk can’t, or won’t, play a role as the season progresses.
“A.J. Hawk is a very good football player,” coach Mike McCarthy said last week. “You can’t always put just 11 players on the field that are good players. I will not apologize for having more than 11 good defensive football players on our team.
“I discussed this with our football team at the beginning of the season. It’s tough to utilize those guys, but those are good problems. This is something we’ve been building as a personnel department, and we’re very thankful we have A.J. Hawk and a number of other very good players.”
As long as Capers can avoid playing Hawk in obvious passing situations, where he’s a liability in coverage, Hawk can offer the Packers help in run support.
And the same goes for any other player on the roster general manager Ted Thompson could possibly entertain trading.
It’s a long season, and injuries are bound to occur as the Packers painstakingly realized with the loss of Grant. Should something happen to Barnett or Chillar, the team will be glad to have the services of Hawk.
Other popular trade proposals have the Packers sending T.J. Lang to the offensive line-hungry Bills in exchange for Lynch.
But again, as they recognized with the recent injury woes of tackle Chad Clifton, the Packers are fortunate to have ample offensive line depth.
Right tackle Mark Tauscher is in his 11th season, has an injury history and could be lost a moment’s notice. Should that happen, the Packers would be fortunate for Lang waiting in the wings.
Yes, the Packers may be minus a two-time 1,000-yard rusher in Grant, but going out and trading away valuable depth for a troubled running back is not the answer.
It’s time to put faith in Thompson who acquired Brandon Jackson with a second-round draft choice in 2007.
Likewise, it’s time to trust the recent Thompson acquisition of Dimitri Nance. Thompson obtained Grant as a relative unknown player four seasons ago and could strike again.
And if the running game happens to flourish with either Jackson or Nance, the Packers will not have traded away the depth they’ve worked so hard to build.
Last updated: 2:54 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012