4 Downs: Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix whiffs on tackles
Every week I’ll share four observations the day after the Green Bay Packers' game. Here they are after the Packers’ season-ending, 35-11 loss at Detroit on Sunday.
Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix just hasn’t been the same player he was a year ago, and Sunday typified his 2017 season. In the second quarter Clinton-Dix made a good play in the run game when on second-and-1 he came up to the line of scrimmage, and in one shot managed to take out a pulling lineman at the ankles and running back Theo Riddick, holding Riddick to a 2-yard gain. But on a couple of scoring plays, Clinton-Dix simply didn’t put up much fight. Just a few plays after the Riddick tackle, receiver Kenny Golladay caught a ball over the middle, kept Clinton-Dix at bay with a stiff arm and then easily outran the Packers safety for a 46-yard touchdown. And in the fourth quarter, Clinton-Dix had an angle to stop Lions running back Ameer Abdullah from getting to the pylon on a seven-yard run but inexplicably didn’t do anything more than drop his shoulder as he ran through the sidelines. He didn’t make any contact, and Abdullah fell into the end zone.
The Packers couldn’t handle Ziggy Ansah, who took advantage of backups playing the right side of the Packers’ offensive line for two of this three sacks. Ansah, who came into the game with nine sacks, usually lines up at right defensive end, but rather than have him go against the Packers’ best offensive lineman, left tackle David Bakhtiari, the Lions for the most part lined him up at left end against the Packers’ No. 3 right tackle, Justin McCray.
Coach Mike McCarthy’s game-opening onside kick was reminiscent of Bart Starr’s coaching tenure. I don’t have any stats but remember Starr occasionally starting a game or a half with a surprise onside during his nine years as coach (1975-83). On Sunday, McCarthy definitely caught the Lions off guard. Mason Crosby hit an excellent ball, driving it into the ground right off the tee to create a high bounce. Detroit’s front wave of blockers all peeled back to block, so by the time the ball bounced again safety Jermaine Whitehead was able to position himself to catch the carom with his back to the Lions’ players.
As Tom Silverstein reported, the Packers will have the No. 14 pick in the 2018 draft. That will be their highest pick since they selected at No. 9 overall in 2009. The last time they had the No 14 pick was in 2000, when former GM Ron Wolf selected tight end Bubba Franks. The Packers figure to have 12 picks in this year’s draft – their own seven, a seventh-rounder in a trade with Buffalo two years ago, and a projected four compensatory picks, which is the maximum allowed. There’s a good chance the compensatory selections will include a third-rounder for T.J. Lang.