Thursday, August 14, 2014
HaHa Clinton-Dix Has Some Work To Do
As the rain came down and flooded LP Field in Tennessee last Saturday, rookie safety HaHa Clinton-Dix was getting his first start as a Green Bay Packer. There were some signs of great athleticism and awareness, but also some problem areas for Clinton-Dix.
The best play from him was a 2nd and 2 play right before halftime. Clinton-Dix bit on a play-fake at the beginning of the play but recovered perfectly. Titans QB Charlie Whitehurst lofted a ball to an open tight end, but Clinton-Dix showed great recovery. He scaled back and broke up the pass. That's something the Packers haven't had since Nick Collins departure from the team. In recent years, once a Packers safety made a mistake, there was no successful recovery.
That type of athleticism is the reason why Ted Thompson brought Clinton-Dix aboard. Clinton-Dix also did a great job closing in after a catch was made to make a tackle. He broke through the Titans offensive line to make a brilliant tackle for a loss. But there were also a few negative plays in the game that stuck out as well.
It's understandable that Clinton-Dix would and will have some things he's going to have to work on, especially after his first real NFL action.
His run defense is one thing he's going to have to get better with. It seemed on a few run plays when the running-back would get to the second level, Clinton-Dix would wait for the RB to come to him. He's going to have to be more aggressive in a division with tough runners like Adrian Peterson and Matt Forte. That is what made Nick Collins so complete. He had the ability to defend the pass and was tough against the run. I believe all of that will come with time for Clinton-Dix though.
Another play that made me cringe a little bit when watching was Clinton-Dix getting trucked over. It wasn't the fact that he got trucked, it was who did it. He allowed 5'9" 170 LB speedster Dexter McCluster bull him over. That just simply can't happen. Peterson will have a field day with him if that strength isn't there. It could have been that Clinton-Dix was caught off guard by McCluster. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for now on that one. I look forward to seeing what he can do against the St. Louis Rams this Saturday in his second game as a Packer.
It'll be interesting to see how much playing time McCarthy gives Clinton-Dix with safety Morgan Burnett returning earlier this week from injury. Will Micah Hyde get the snaps beside Burnett or will Clinton-Dix get a good portion of time with starters? McCarthy would be smart to give Clinton-Dix more reps than Hyde. In the end Clinton-Dix was brought in to improve a weakness at safety, so he should get all the time he needs before week 1.
On Saturday, look for Clinton-Dix to try and make some plays to show the coaches he deserves to be the starter. The preseason will be his short term time to correct flaws in his game. If Clinton-Dix can tighten up in those few areas then the Packers will have a solid secondary for years to come.