The Green Bay Packers are hopeful that rookie safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will be a playmaker for their defense in 2014. The unit coordinated by Dom Capers needs one badly, as the defense plummeted statistically in the second half of the 2013 season.
Going into their Week 9 game against the Bears last year in Green Bay, the Packers were ranked 11th in total defense and fourth in rushing defense. By the time the season ended, the Packers fell all the way to the 25th ranking in total defense and also to 25th in rushing defense.
That is quite a fall. The pass defense wasn't much better, as the Packers were ranked 24th in that category.
The biggest eyesore on the defense was the play of the safeties last season. Not one of the safeties had an interception, and that hasn't happened in over 60 years. Additionally, the tackling in the secondary was abysmal at times, and the safeties led the way.
As noted by Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Morgan Burnett led the team with 17 missed tackles while M.D. Jennings wasn't much better bringing down opposing players. Jennings also gave up a team-high 4.5 touchdown passes.
It makes sense that the Packers did not offer Jennings a contract after his performance last season, and the restricted free agent signed with the Bears instead.
The Packers hope that Burnett will play this upcoming season like he did in 2011 and 2012, which allowed him to get a contract extension with the team last summer.
The addition of Clinton-Dix should help, plus Burnett will need to play well anyway, as more playing time is expected for Micah Hyde.
But the key to the success of the secondary will be No. 21, as Clinton-Dix is a true ball hawk who plays the deep pass very well. The former Alabama Crimson Tide star was also a steady tackler in college.
The Packers need some consistency at the safety position, and Clinton-Dix can provide that. But he and his defensive teammates will be tested by some dangerous offenses in 2014. I'm listing seven of those matchups in this slideshow.