Bears

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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Week 3 injury report: Eddy Pineiro questionable

Week 3 injury report: Eddy Pineiro questionable

It appears the Bears will face a little more uncertainty in Monday night's contest with the Redskins than originally anticipated. The team released an updated Week 3 injury report Saturday that lists four key players -- Trey Burton (groin), Eddie Jackson (shoulder/knee), Kyle Long (hip) and, in a late-week turn of events, Eddy Pineiro (knee) -- as questionable:

Eddie Goldman, who was limited in practice on Thursday with an oblique injury, was a full participant Friday and Saturday and does not have an injury designation in the most recent report.

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Eddy Pineiro’s leg injury throws Bears’ kicking status into flux, again

Eddy Pineiro’s leg injury throws Bears’ kicking status into flux, again

Bears kicker Eddy Pineiro was a surprise addition to the team’s injury report Saturday afternoon, and is officially listed as questionable for Monday night’s game against Washington with a right leg injury.

Coach Matt Nagy sounded optimistic the injury is “minor” in nature, and said despite feeling some pain Pineiro did kick in practice on Saturday. But the mere inclusion of him on the injury report raises concerns about the Bears’ kicking situation only six days after it appeared to have been solved with Pineiro’s game-winning 53-yard kick against the Denver Broncos.

“I think what we’ve got to do as these days go by let’s just see where he’s at,” Nagy said. “I’m going to be on the cautious side with him and we’ll just kind of feel out the pain part and if it’s something that’s going to affect him, then we’ll have a decision to make. If not — hopefully he’ll be okay.”

Nagy said the injury occurred in the weight room at Halas Hall, and stressed the cautious approach he and the Bears’ training staff is taking to Pineiro. And the Bears’ coach consistently presented an optimistic outlook for Pineiro when answering questions from the media on Saturday.

Still, if Pineiro cannot play on Monday, the Bears will be in a bind. Punter Pat O’Donnell has never attempted a field goal in his NFL or college career, though Nagy did say O’Donnell “has some experience.” The most recent memory of O’Donnell working on field goals came during halftime of a loss to the San Francisco 49ers in 2017, when then-kicker Cairo Santos was hurt, though he didn’t attempt a kick in the second half of that contest. 

“I don’t want to rush to judgment yet,” Nagy said. “That’s not where we’re at. I really do think that we’ll be okay. We just want to make sure that we’re doing everything the right way with him, with his pain, and we’ve got to communicate with him, see how he feels, and it’s probably going to be one of those deals where in a couple days where he’s at and we’ve got to make a decision.”

So all of a sudden, Pineiro’s status will be critical to monitor in the hours leading up to Monday night’s game (the Bears have to submit inactive players 90 minutes before kickoff). If Pineiro is unable to play, will the Bears actually use O’Donnell for field goals? Or will Nagy lean into his aggressive nature and try to convert fourth downs and two-point conversions?

It feels disappointing for the Bears to even have to entertain these questions at this point. If Nagy’s optimism proves to be founded, the Bears won’t have an issue Monday night. But if they do, it’ll put plenty of pressure on a sputtering offense to make sure a game against a winless team doesn’t come down to another kick.

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