Of his final 63 regular-season games with the Green Bay Packers, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix played every defensive snap in 59 of them. In nine games after being dealt to Washington last year, Clinton-Dix never left the field defensively seven times, playing 98.4 percent in the eighth game, after logging “only” 69.1 percent in his burgundy and gold debut.
“I’m a guy that loves to be on the field each and every play,” Clinton-Dix, the former Pro Bowler with 88 consecutive appearances to begin his career — including 82 consecutive starts — told PFW Wednesday.
Clinton-Dix was on the field for all but four plays Thursday, and though we might never know whether he would’ve prevented it, Jimmy Graham’s eight-yard touchdown over Chicago’s No. 3 safety Deon Bush punctuated the game’s only TD drive … and only series Clinton-Dix missed.
“Yeah, it was just a rotation,” Clinton-Dix told us. “Bush had been doing great all preseason, had a great camp. He’s a pro, too. We knew coming into the game that we would both be taking certain series, plays in and out and that’s what happened.”
Clinton-Dix is accurate in his assessment of Bush, whom PFW mentioned repeatedly last month as being among the more impressive Bears in camp. And their ‘D’ was absolutely lights out in holding notorious Bear hunter Aaron Rodgers and Co. to the lone touchdown and a paltry 213 yards of total offense. If we told you those two statistics before the game, few would’ve predicted the outcome.
Still, it’s the Bears’ ‘D’ who raised the bar last season so impossibly high, leaving us to pick nits regarding last Thursday. That means pointing out that of their 12 drives, and 55 plays (not counting two kneeldowns), the Packers accounted for nearly 35 percent of their total yardage output on the one series and four passes, respectively. It also should be noted that prior to that fourth series by the Packers offense, their first three resulted in a combined nine plays for minus-12 yards and three punts.
Bush vacating his landmark in the deep third of the field on the Rodgers-to-Marquez-Valdes Scantling 47-yard hookup in the post — two plays before getting posted up by Graham on the touchdown — was the defense’s most egregious play.
“Yeah we just didn't execute how we should have,” DB coach Deshea Townsend told PFW. “But that's what this game comes down to. I've talked to our guys in the room about let's execute for 60 great plays, not 59, because we don't know what plays are going to be the difference on the back end. Everybody knows that when we make a mistake, everybody sees it, and we have the type of guys in the room that are built for that. And now we understand what our job tasks are every week and we accept it.”
Clinton-Dix ultimately played a heck of a game, too, though it might have been lost in the two teams’ offseason safety dance and in light of the fact that the guy he replaced, Adrian Amos, made the game-sealing interception. In addition to five tackles, several of them big-time collisions, he nearly notched Chicago’s first takeaway of the season when he came up behind Rodgers, punching the ball out of his hand on a play that was ultimately nullified by a Packers penalty.
“I was itching to get the ball off A-Rod, and I had fun playing against that guy,” he said.
Clinton-Dix also said he greatly enjoyed sharing the backfield in a real game again with Bama teammate and Bears All-Pro Eddie Jackson.
“It felt good. I felt like I was back there with my best friend,” he said. “A guy that you can communicate with, who you know is thinking the same thing at the same time. So that helps a lot. I felt good getting back there with Eddie, and I’m ready to take it to the next level.”