I always like going over the comments of the posts that I write. It's great when people tell me I get it right and good to go over things when people tell me I got it all wrong. Okay, it's not always that good a feeling when I get to read every comment saying I'm wrong, but it's good to grow on. I had an experience like that yesterday when I picked out Clay Matthews vs. Russell Okung as the first key match up of the week. Most of the responses tended to point out that the biggest question facing the Packers is how to shut down Marshawn Lynch.
I agree with this statement, however shutting down a running game isn't quite as one sided as shutting down a passing attack, hence why I started there. In order to shut down a running back like Lynch it's going to take countless one on one battles up front with linemen as well as any number of one on one battles of guys trying to bring down Lynch himself. I also hate to cop out and say that it's Lynch against the defense as a whole. i did that last week with Cedric Benson vs. His Old Team and it just didn't feel right. Instead I'm going to single out one player who needs to bring Lynch to the ground, and if he is able to do so, will be the beneficiary of the good play up front....A.J. Hawk.
Hawk is an interesting Packer. He is a disappointment as a top five pick, but a solid player and core contributor of the defense. He is flawed, but no where near as bad as some would have you believe. He is probably overpaid, but an essential element to the success of our defense right now. All in all, he's an interesting jutxaposition, but how Hawk goes so goes the rest of the defense more often than not.
So far this year Hawk has had one good game and one bad game. I'll let you guess which one is which. He was able to successfully bring down Matt Forte and Michael Bush (a pretty tough runner in his own right). He had trouble getting Frank Gore to the ground. How he is able to bring down Lynch is going to be critical for the Packers on Monday night.
Lynch, as so many of us know, is a dynamic runner who can change a game. The good news is that he is still dinged up a bit with some back troubles. This did not stop Lynch from having a big game against the Cowboys, but it is still something to keep in mind as we talk about the threat that Lynch can be.
Lynch is going to be tough to take down. Let's hope that Hawk, and D.J. Smith, have their big boy pants on and are ready to tackle and cover this dynamic threat.
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