Tuesday, July 20, 2010

CCQ #11: Does Bishop finally make his move?

This is the second installment of our Camp Countdown Questions series. Each day leading up to July 31st, we'll be posing a crucial question the Pack need to answer in training camp.

Hello, JonBob readers! This is Bob here with my first post. My friend and fellow Packer-backer has set the bar high with his posts and will be a tough act to follow. I'll try not to disappoint/scare you readers away.

For the last couple years, I've developed a bit of a man-crush on Desmond Bishop, a back up linebacker who normally only sees the field on special teams. I realize that this sounds strange. Not many people get excited about second-string LB's. But there are two main reasons why I really like this guy.

The first is the fact that Bishop makes plays. That is, when he gets a chance. In 3 years, he's only had one career start while accumulating 74 tackles and one sack. But despite his limited opportunities, Bishop has 4 fumbles forced at this point in his short career. When he's in the game, he's around the ball. He makes watching the second-string D in preseason games exciting. With his size, speed, and instincts, Bishop has the potential to become a disruptive force at inside linebacker, especially with guys like Raji, Pickett, and Jenkins eating up blocks at the line of scrimmage.

The second has less to do with Bishop himself and more to do with the guy ahead of him on the depth chart, A.J. Hawk. Hawk has been... decent. That's about the only way to describe him. He certainly hasn't lived up to a top 5 draft pick's expectations, but I wouldn't go so far as to call him a bust. He's smart, consistent, never hurt, works hard, doesn't miss tackles. If he was a 3rd or 4th round pick, Hawk would be considered a great find by the Packers.

But you don't draft a guy 5th overall and expect him to just be a serviceable player. You're looking for a superstar, a difference maker. Someone you can build your team around. Not a guy who only plays two downs because he's a liability in coverage. Not a guy who only has 8.5 sacks in 62 career starts. And definitely not a guy who has forced only TWO (2) fumbles. That's right. The guy with only ONE (1) career start (Bishop) has more forced fumbles than Hawk, a four year starter. As a matter of fact, Hawk went the entire 2008 season without forcing a single turnover. That dry-spell continued deep into 2009 as well until Hawk made the most spectacular play of his career in week 13 against the Ravens, leaping high into the air to intercept Joe Flacco.

You have to wonder how much longer Green Bay will continue to value Hawk's consistency over Bishop's play-making abilities. I'm actually a little surprised that Hawk is still on the team this year. His base salary has escalated and other teams are starting to inquire about the availability of Bishop. Next year Hawk is scheduled to make over $10 million and Bishop will be an unrestricted free agent. I don't see the Pack paying Hawk that $10 million while probably losing Bishop to FA. If Bishop lights it up again during the preseason, which he will, Green Bay has to unleash him.

Make sure to check out all other installments of the Camp Countdown Questions series!


  1. I too have a man crush on the man-beast known as Desmond Bishop and I would love to see him get more playing time but there are some worries that come with him on the field. Mental lapses. While having good instincts and an ability to knock Chuck Norris out is part of what makes good linebackers great (Ray Lewis for example), mental preparation is just as important and Mr. Bishop has not dazzled me with his ability to dissect offensive plays or outsmart the offensive line, something Darren Sproles has experienced from the best linebacker in the game. Also you talk about having to take out A.J. Hawk for third down plays because of his coverage ability (or lack thereof), but Bishop is from much of the same mold. While a little more athletic than Hawk he still is by no means someone you want to be in coverage.

    With that said I still agree in thinking that Bishop could be an ILB of the future in the league (hopefully for us) and, as I have said on numerous occasions, we need to get some young speed at our LB position and an A.J. Hawk trade could create that opportunity.

  2. I agree with you both. Desmond has big time play-making ability and a mean streak a country mile long. He just needs to get that head on his shoulders squared away...it's a big if, but if he can do it I think he should be given a shot at starting.

    If not, it's gonna be interesting to see what happens next off-season...

  3. The Bob of JonBob: he does exist!

  4. Yes, there's definitely a reason that he's been on the bench. He doesn't quite have to mental aspect of the game down yet, which is all that's keeping Hawk in the starting lineup. But I think Bishop is one of those guys that just needs to get in and play more. Nick Collins was nothing special 2-3 years ago. Now that he's grown more comfortable with his role in the defense, he can really use his athletic ability to make plays. Same thing with Darren Sharper a long time ago. He was awful. Gave up a lot of big plays, blew coverages, made you wonder why he was still on the team. Then all of a sudden he became an absolute beast one year and hasn't slowed down since. This could be Bishop's breakout year. I think the D is talented enough as a group to be able to survive Bishop's growing pains.

    I don't think Hawk is tradeable at this point in time. Nobody wants a decent LB scheduled to make $10 million next year. Maybe if they can renegotiate his deal...

    And the point about Hawk coming out on passing downs was geared more towards his unworthiness of being a top 5 pick. You're right, Bishop isn't much better. But he also was a 6th round pick. Just trying to illustrate that Hawk hasn't made the kind of impact that was expected of him.

    Hopefully he puts it together this year. Another playmaker on the front 7 would make it a very formidable group!

    And yes. The rumors are true. There really is a Bob.

  5. So he could turn out to be a Nick Collins or he could be an Atari Bigby, who is very similar; fearless, an amazing hitter, but seeminlgy lacks the mental know-how of the game. Bigy has had his three+ years to get comfortable with his position and still hasn't developed enough as an everydown player at his position. I do hope that you are right about Bishop but I fostered the same hopes for Bigby also.

  6. Actually, when Bigby was in the game last year, he was good/very good. He started slow against AZ, but after the half he had adjusted, and, before getting injuried (?), was playing well.

    Plus, in 07, he played great the whole season. He was, indeed, a playmaker, leading the team in ints and forced fumbles.

    Bishop was never steady. He was either making plays or giving up big ones...