August 9, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons center Joe Hawley (61) warms up before the game against the Baltimore Ravens at the Georgia Dome. The Ravens beat the Falcons 31-17. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
Bless his heart, Joe Hawley has seen some playing time at center, been all over the Falcons roster, and generally done everything the Falcons have asked from him. He’s been reliable, and you can’t say enough for that. But what the Falcons were asking from him today against the Redskins was simply ridiculous. It’s something you should never ask of your backup center.
The Falcons lined Hawley up at fullback. If he takes on normal fullback responsibilities, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Blocking, staying in for pass protection, he could be very useful. The last couple of weeks the Falcons have been using offensive tackle Mike Johnson in the tight end position, not because of his ability to catch passes, but his ability to block in the run game, and create double team possibilities for the Falcons offensive line.
But the key there is that the Falcons haven’t asked Johnson to catch passes. That’s exactly what the Falcons asked Hawley to do today– not once, but twice. Each time the ball went off his hands and fell incomplete. Now I know revisionist history is easy. If Ryan had connected on those passes and they had been able to get solid yardage, the Falcons would have been viewed as geniuses. Instead, they look absolutely ridiculous. There is not reason in the world to put an offensive lineman at fullback and expect him to all of a sudden handle to ball really well. There’s a reason he started playing on the line in little league, and that same reason probably hasn’t changed since he reached the NFL. The Falcons need regular fullback Lousaka Polite back ASAP, because they could really use those positive plays, not simply incompletions.