The Washington Redskins started the game strongly collecting a safety, a field goal, and a touchdown unanswered to lead 11-0 versus the Green Bay Packers. After the initial scores, the Redskins stopped being able to move the ball as effectively down the field and this was due to the elevated play of the Packers’ secondary. Free safety Ha’Sean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix played extremely well making five tackles and two pass deflections in Dom Capers’ defense. In this breakdown, we will take a look at Clinton-Dix’s performance in this Wild Card match-up that helped the Packers move on to the divisional round of the 2016 NFL Playoffs.
To start this breakdown, we will take a look at the goal line stand the Packers’ defense made in the first quarter to stop the Redskins from scoring. The Redskins tried twice unsuccessfully to run the ball in from the six inch line.
The first attempt was stopped by a Clinton-Dix tackle, but as you will see from the GIF below it’s difficult to give him full credit for the play as RG#75 Scherff trips on the way across the formation to block him. This gives Clinton-Dix the free tackle attempt, in which he helps to bring Alfred Morris down.
The second play Clinton-Dix is responsible for the outside gap on the rightside of your screen. The penetration by DE#98 Guion’s bull-rush on LG#61 Long disrupts the run from the very beginning and Morris is tackled for a loss.
On third down, the Redskins get called for a delay of game penalty, a forboding sequence of events for the Redskins, and run the play from the 7 instead of the 2 yard line.
In this play, the Redskins line up in empty-set shotgun trey right with RB#39 Pierre Thomas lining up on the far left side of the formation. The Packers rush three and drop eight into coverage. If you caught my breakdown yesterday on the Redskins’ packaged goal line touchdown, you can see that the Packers are in roughly the same alignment with five underneath zones and three deeper zones.
After the snap, #21 Clinton-Dix sits in the back left zone (white-shaded circle) and watches #88 Pierre Garcon enter the space between him and the underneath linebackers. Clinton-Dix attacks the route jumping over Garcon’s back for the pass deflection. Great drive and route recognition by the safety on this play.
Watch TE#86 Jordan Reed’s release from the line of scrimmage on his seam route. He is standing across from #96 Mike Neal who shoves his entire body weight into the athletic tight end. This is a strong effort to slow him down as Reed is one of the Redskins’ favorite goal line targets. Capers clearly wanted to make Cousins look elsewhere on this play as he was willing to sacrifice the pass rush in order to do so.
In the fourth quarter, the Redskins are down 35-18. Cousins attempts to force the ball between the zones of the Packers’ Cover 4 defense. Clinton-Dix sits in the middle left zone (white-shaded circle), and attacks Reed’s in-breaking route. He slaps away the ball and it almost falls into the hands of another Packers’ defender. Great play for his second pass deflection on the day.
From the Redskins perspective, this is a terrible decision by Cousins to squeeze this ball between zones. Additionally, Reed knows he is covered well, so he runs a half-assed route to get between the zones. These combined with Clinton-Dix’s ball skills killed the play for the Redskins.
Overall, Clinton-Dix played a pretty clean game. The only knock, albeit very minor, I had with him was on this running attempt by Chris Thompson. Clinton-Dix took an aggressive angle and missed the running back allowing him to fight for extra yards.
From a more global standpoint, it seemed like Clinton-Dix is very willing to tackle someone in a one-on-one situation where he has a clean tackle attempt. However, in a dirty group-style effort, he seemed hesitant and sometimes willing to watch the other defenders take down the opponent. While this is not always the case, it happened more frequently than I’d like to see from him.
Most of the game the Packers’ secondary was able to hold Cousins to checkdowns and short quick-game routes. The pass rush was overwhelming at times. Even, Redskins’ All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams allowed a sack, when he had not allowed one all season up to this point.
Clinton-Dix is turning into a quality free safety in the NFL. Dom Capers loves using him as the deep safety in his Cover 2 looks as well as bringing him down into the box as a strong safety to help in run support when the other team brings out their heavy personnel. During these situations, Capers relies on fellow safety Morgan Burnett to play the deep part of the field.
Since the 6th-seed Seahawks won their game as well, the Packers will fly to Glendale, Arizona to face the #2 Cardinals in the NFC divisional round.
Follow Samuel Gold on Twitter: @SamuelRGold.t