Special Edition: What Clinton-Dix Brings to the Defense
Welcome back to a Burgundy and Gold Report Special Edition. Washington waited until the final hours of the free agency deadline to announce the trade with the Green Bay packers for safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Pro Football Focus rated Redskins’ safety DJ Swearinger as the NFL’s highest rated safety with Clinton-Dix rated second. PFF analytics based formula isn’t completely reliable in describing the elite pro players, but it’s nice to think the Redskins bought low on a young, high value, defensive back. It also doesn’t hurt that Clinton-Dix becomes the sixth Alabama University player to be signed or drafted by Washington.
The Redskins front office made a wise move by upgrading a spot that featured the overachieving Swearinger. Unfortunately the depth behind DJ leaves a lot to be desired. According to ESPN NFL Nation reporter John Keim, there were rumblings that Nicholson could be dealing with an injury.
“In a conversation yesterday both @CraigHoffman and I were told some injury concerns were being checked out and could lead to trade desire. Like Craig, told some with Nicholson. This provides quality insurance and then some.”
During a recent press conference, it was announced that Montae Nicholson did have a “minor procedure on his hip” per coach Gruden, but will be just fine. Nicholson was observed participating in individual drills in practice, which is encouraging. Having HCD should help Skins fans sleep a little easier considering the high flying Falcons are coming to town.
The current depth at safety is a real weakness, so adding another safety became a necessity. Backups Deshazor Everrett & Kenny Ladler offer special teams moxie, but haven’t shown much play-making ability on defense. As for 4th round safety Troy Apke, he’s done for the season after re-aggravating a strained hamstring. Some might think that the Redskins would have been better off trading for receivers Amari Cooper (traded to Dallas) or Golden Tate (traded to Philly). The flaw in that line of thinking is that the receiver position is not the problem with the Skins passing game. Investing a 4th rounder on Clinton-Dix showed that Washington believes this defense can get them to the playoffs. Although on the last year of his deal the Redskins have options with Clinton-Dix.
In previous weeks, we’ve seen Washington use three safeties in nickel/dime situations with Everett being the 3rd. The latest addition will push Nicholson to a complementary role in which he could thrive by using his size near the line of scrimmage. This could open up a multitude of possibilities for the pass rush with an extra safety blanket as well.
The former Crimson Tide safety brings playoff experience and made the Pro Bowl in 2016. On the year, HCD has 3 ints 1 sack and 1FF. Coming into the league, Clinton-Dix was viewed as a coverage safety with limitations. So far, the former Packer has 14 ints with 5.5 sacks in his career.
Clinton-Dix made it clear during his introductory press conference that he wants to be in Washington. In addition, he mentioned that he has a close relationship with DJ Swearinger and worked out with him during the off season. He also admitted that he idolizes Sean Taylor, which led to him donning #21 in Green Bay and will wear #20 for the Redskins.
“There’s no way I can be Sean Taylor, but he’s a guy that I look up to and model my game after him.”“I’m so excited to be here. You guys don’t even understand. You’ll see. I came here to play. I came here to work.”
Washington fans clamored for the team to acquire a wide receiver prior to the trade deadline. What fans might not realize is that the underlying issue is the coach/quarterback dynamic, which is a work in progress. Gruden made it clear he called for Alex Smith to take more down field shots when running RPO, but instead Smith has handed the ball off on the majority of those plays. There’s no doubt that the Skins passing offense will improve, but adding a middle of the pack receiver via trade would have done nothing. So the Redskins doubled down and added to their already potent defensive attack.
Some complaints have been that using a 2019 4th round draft pick on a player who becomes a free agent next season was irresponsible and need to keep billing with draft picks. The reality of the situation is that the Redskins have 50 players under contract for 2019, so using a mid round selection was a shrewd move by the front office. If Clinton-Dix decides to test free agency, he will undoubtedly make top money at his position. If that scenario were to happen, the Redskins would likely recoup a 4th round selection in the 2020 Draft via compensatory pick.
At this point, the defense is playing the best ball in over a decade, so adding a talent such as HCD should only improve this unit’s output. As previously mentioned, Swearinger and Clinton-Dix have a preexisting relationship, so hopefully chemistry has been established. One thing is for sure; the Redskins defense will be ready for Matt Ryan and Co. when they arrive to FedEx Field!
Thanks for checking out another B&G Report. Stay tuned for all you need to know leading up to the home match-up versus Atlanta.
By Adam Aniba
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