LeSean McCoy (25) runs with the ball past Green Bay Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk (50) in the first quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
3) Inside Linebacker
They’re not terrible by any means. Hawk is perhaps having the best season of his career, and Jones is still solid in coverage.
However, the Packers lack a real physical force in the middle of their defense. All the top defenses in the league have hard-hitting linebackers who can run sideline-to-sideline and anchor the unit. Seattle has Bobby Wagner. San Francisco has Patrick Willis and NaVarro Bowman. And Carolina has Luke Kuechly.
The Packers lack this true “thumper” in the middle.
Between inside linebacker and safety, the Packers aren’t real physical in the middle of their defense. Their linebackers still get pushed around by linemen in the run game, and besides Jamari Lattimore, they lack depth behind the starters.
Like Burnett, Hawk can be a good complementary player, and I am by no means an advocate for his release, but he needs a physical player to play alongside him.
The defense was at its best with a guy like Desmond Bishop roaming the middle of the field and playing up at the line of scrimmage.
The Packers should look for this player early in the draft, but if he’s not there, Hawk and Jones will do for another season.