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Football Outsiders on LB A.J. Hawk

I asked Bill Barnwell at Football Outsiders 5 questions based on the chapter on the Green Bay Packers in their Football Outsiders Almanac 2009, which is one of the many great publications they have available for the upcoming season.

My third question: The linebacker stat that jumped out at me was the 4.7 yards/carry allowed by LB A.J. Hawk. Is that unacceptable for a middle linebacker or does he have a chance at turning his career around?

That rates 98th amongst all linebackers, which is a pretty good start to answering your question. Is that the point of no return? Not necessarily. Stats can fluctuate from year to year, of course, and to an extent, they're dictated by scheme and how players are used.

With that being said, Hawk was 87th in the same metric in 2007, and 68th in 2006. That doesn't mean that he was the 87th or the 68th-best linebacker in the league at stopping the run in those years, but when you combine it with popular perception (and the attitude of the coaches) towards his play in run defense, well, there's quite the case against him there.