In Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, Bears add more than a friend of Eddie Jackson

In Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, Bears add more than a friend of Eddie Jackson

A day after the Bears lost in brutal fashion to the Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs, Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix posted a photo of his friend and fellow ex-Alabama safety Eddie Jackson to Instagram with a caption that included this line:

“Can’t wait to see you Score on Offense in the years to come.”

Clinton-Dix will get an opportunity to see if Jackson can do that — or just keep scoring touchdowns on defense — up close, at least for 2019. 

The Bears signed Clinton-Dix to a one-year contract on Thursday worth $3.6 million, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. Adding Clinton-Dix, who spent all but nine games of his career with the Packers, offers an inexpensive answer to the question facing the Bears after Adrian Amos’ departure to Green Bay. 

Clinton-Dix is a starting-caliber safety who had three interceptions last year, and has 14 in his five-year career. The Packers dealt Clinton-Dix to Washington before last season’s trade deadline, and Washington wanted to keep the 26-year-old former first round pick:

This is the kind of move the Bears’ success in 2018 allowed them to make. Clinton-Dix could’ve teamed up with another former Alabama teammate in Landon Collins in Washington, but the Bears are far closer to the Super Bowl and have a widely-respected culture. Slot corner Buster Skrine, who arrived at Halas Hall on Thursday as Clinton-Dix was visiting, said he and his new teammate talked about how excited they were to come to the Bears. 

“We chopped it up a little bit,” Skrine said. “He feels the same way — He feels the (culture) is good and we're all just happy to be able to come here and play together.”

Said Skrine of Clinton-Dix, too: “I know he's a playmaker, that's one thing he does. He's got a lot of interceptions and he's not scared to hit anybody. Having a guy like that, he came from Alabama, one of the best college systems in college football and then carrying it over to the NFL as a playmaker, it's going to be awesome having him in the back end with me.”

Clinton-Dix fits next to Jackson in a number of ways beyond the strong relationship between the two safeties.

First, from a cost perspective, a one-year deal for a veteran makes sense given the Bears’ current and future budgets. The Bears don’t have much cap space with which to work right now, and Jackson will be a due a rich extension some time before or after the 2020 season. Committing to one year of Clinton-Dix could allow the Bears to draft a safety to potentially be a cheap, long-term replacement (and the Bears found their prior safety pairing, Jackson and Amos, in the fourth and fifth rounds, respectively). And if Clinton-Dix doesn’t work out, the Bears aren’t on the hook for anything beyond 2019. 

Second, Jackson and Clinton-Dix are playmakers, the kind of guys who should fit well together in Chuck Pagano’s aggressive scheme. Clinton-Dix, for what it’s worth, had the highest Pro Football Focus grade (79.3) in 2018, and missed fewer tackles (eight), than Amos did last year (nine). That’s not to say Clinton-Dix is better than Amos, but it’s something worth noting here. Clinton-Dix, too, has never missed a game in his career. He also made a critical play in Week 1 to prevent the Bears from getting a first down that helped spark the Packers' comeback

And third, Clinton-Dix is someone next to whom Jackson should be comfortable playing. There is a legitimate friendship between the two, dating back to when Clinton-Dix hosted Jackson on his recruiting visit to Alabama. Jackson spoke of his admiration for Clinton-Dix all the way back during training camp in 2017, too:

“Ha Ha is one of those guys, he’s going to keep pushing,” Jackson said. “He’s going to stay on top of you. but he’s going to do it from a brotherly standpoint, not a coach standpoint.”

And Jackson, on Thursday afternoon, certainly seemed happy about the guy he’ll be playing with in 2019:

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People actually thought that Garth Brooks was wearing a Bernie Sanders Lions jersey


People actually thought that Garth Brooks was wearing a Bernie Sanders Lions jersey

Karens everywhere are officially Mad Online. 

The latest -- and probably dumbest -- example yet? Let's check in on country megastar Garth Brooks. Sports! 

Garth was playing a concert in Detroit recently, and decided to butter up the home crowd by wearing a Barry Sanders jersey. As far as in-concert statements go, that's about as innocuous as it gets. Surely nothing could have ruined a night of Garth belting out the lyrics to his most recent song about truckbeds and moonshine and American Values while wearing the jersey of *the* great player in Lions' history? 

Ha ha ha actually no, of course things were ruined. People IN DETROIT somehow thought that Garth Brooks, of all people, was supporting Bernie Sanders. Garth Brooks! If you asked 1000 random people -- apparently they can't be from Detroit though -- what political candidate they thought Garth Brooks supported, not a single human being asked would say Bernie Sanders (although maybe they should?). Not one.  AND YET: 

I can't quite put my finger on what everyone who's making a fool of themselves on Garth's Facebook has in common, but I'm sure there's some sort of connective tissue. We'll probably never know! 

Anyways, get 'em, Barry: 

No easy answers: How Matt Nagy, Bears will try to fix run game

No easy answers: How Matt Nagy, Bears will try to fix run game

Let’s start with a pop quiz: 

You’ll get the answer near the bottom of this article. Anyways, let’s get to it: 

There’s no simple fix for the Bears’ run game in 2020. There’s not much room to dramatically improve the offensive line, with 80% of its starters returning. David Montgomery isn’t going anywhere. A new tight end or two may help a bit, but the point is, the core of this offense that averaged 3.7 yards per carry in 2019 (fourth-worst in the NFL) will be back in 2020. 

So the only place for the Bears to really go in search of a run game fix is with their coaching. And Matt Nagy’s firing of offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, tight ends coach Kevin Gilbride Jr. and offensive line coach Harry Hiestand (and replacing them with Bill Lazor, Clancy Barone and Juan Castillo) felt like a tacit acknowledgement of where the problem can be fixed. 

In talking about not having a run game coordinator, the first name Nagy brought up was Castillo, who previously coached with Nagy for the Philadelphia Eagles. 

“(Castillo’s) expertise in football is second to none,” Nagy said. “And so I have a lot of respect for him and how he does things. Just the last several weeks that we've been together talking scheme-wise, it just feels really good. I just appreciate a lot of simplicity of where he’s at and the consistency too. So it will be fun to get going on that.”

It’s notable the only coach Nagy hired this winter who he’d previously worked with was Castillo, who’s had stints as a run game coordinator/offensive line coach with the Eagles (1998-2010), Baltimore Ravens (2013-2016) and Buffalo Bills (2017-2018). Perhaps Nagy believes he’ll be less likely to abandon his run game if he has more trust in the guys overseeing it. 

Barone, too, has coached tight ends all over the league but also has experience as an offensive line coach, including with the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos a few years ago. Lazor’s experience is with quarterbacks but the Cincinnati Bengals did rank eighth in rushing yards per play (4.7) in 2018, his last year as offensive coordinator there. 

“I’m doing a lot of listening and I think now is the time to do that so we can collaborate, figure out what went wrong last year and let’s fix it,” Nagy said. “Let’s be about solutions.”

Those solutions, though, are neither simple nor obvious. Remember that question at the top of the article? Here’s the answer: 

A (David Montgomery running from the shotgun): 115 carries, 478 yards, 4.2 YPC, 3 TD

B (David Montgomery running from under center): 127 carries, 411 yards, 3.2 YPC, 3 TD

The Bears’ run game needs a complete overhaul, not just a few tweaks, and there’s not a clear solution with the roster currently in place. Can Castillo & Co. give Nagy the run game he needs, and then can Nagy trust it on gamedays when he’s calling plays? 

We’ll find out in September, but those are two of the most important questions for this team to answer in 2020. 

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