Burnett, Clinton-Dix Could Rank as top Safety Tandem in the League

Entering their third year together together, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Morgan Burnett are proving to complement each other perfectly. 

It's no secret - Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Morgan Burnett are good. Really good. In fact, they could be the best safety tandem in the NFL going into 2016. By the end of the season, they just might be the best. 

The six, soon-to-be seven-year veteran savvy of Burnett paired with the rugged, instinctive machine in Clinton-Dix forms a duo that fits the back end of the Packers' secondary to a T.

It took a lot of soul-searching after former safety Nick Collins' career was cut short in 2011, leaving a blaring gap in Green Bay's free safety slot. M.D. Jennings was a familiar suitor including current Packers scouting assistant Charlie Peprah as well as several others. None of them fit the bill.

Three years' worth of this "soul-searching" went on until a godsend of a draft selection placed Clinton-Dix in the Packers' orbit late in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

He hasn't missed a game since.

During his tenure with the Packers, Clinton-Dix has become a consistent regular season performer as well as a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs. In just four playoff starts, he's tallied 13 solo tackles, seven defensed passes and three interceptions. It's worth noting that Clinton-Dix's three postseason interceptions tie the Seahawks' Kam Chancellor's playoff interception total. It's also worth nothing that Chancellor's played in three times as many playoff games.

At just 23-years old, the future is bright for Clinton-Dix and his glowing role of importance in Green Bay's secondary. This kind of ongoing success can often be attributed to another source that coincides well with its partner.

Although Clinton-Dix's early rise to prominence is impressive, Burnett is coming off a 2015 campaign where, despite missing five games due to injury, he was ranked as the third-best strong safety in the league by Sports Illustrated.

"Green Bay no longer has to worry about him in coverage, and he's far from a concern vs. the run - he registered 130 tackles over 15 games in '14 and another 68 across 11 games last year. Keeping him on the field for a full season should be a goal, as Burnett has not hit 16 games played since the '13 campaign."

Staying healthy should be a goal not just for Burnett, but for the entire roster, of course. But keeping this intelligent, physical duo on the field for 16 games - or at least something close to that - will pay dividends for defensive coordinator Dom Capers and the rest of that Packers defense that ranked 12th in total points given up last season. Only a notch above their 13th ranking the year prior.

T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart of the Broncos and Earl Thomas and the previously-mentoned Chancellor of the Seahawks are just a couple examples of dynamic safety pairings. But Clinton-Dix and Burnett, as underrated as they are, will be looking to make some loud, unbridled noise come September.

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Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (27)

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Handsback's picture

July 14, 2016 at 07:48 am

When you look at Green Bay's defense, you are starting to see it's strength and depth. If the last line of defense (all DBs) is very good, the LBs solid to good, and the Dline good, then this could be a very good year for the Pack. It seems to hinge on two positions....DT and ILB. If they become solid, I see a very deep run in the playoffs.

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dobber's picture

July 14, 2016 at 08:21 am

"If they become solid, I see a very deep run in the playoffs."

It's all about matchups: who you play, and when/where you play them. Hopefully the Packers will be that matchup nobody wants to see on their postseason schedule.

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dobber's picture

July 14, 2016 at 08:19 am

I look back two years at how unsatisfied people were with Burnett's play. He's had his injury problems, sure, but people were unhappy with the contract he received and we all seemed to be pretty sure that he was the kind of player who needed another decent safety playing next to him to be effective. I'm not convinced he's a significantly different player now than he was then, which speaks volumes to the stability that HHCD has granted to this defense.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

July 14, 2016 at 10:02 am

I never get into the contact talk, but I'm sure I was one of those people who wasn't satisfied with his play. It reminded me of Hawk's play. He's always there, but there was a lack of impact plays. He can rack up a bunch of tackles, but he's not going to pop anyone.

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Nick Perry's picture

July 15, 2016 at 07:02 am

I was one of those not very happy about the size of the contract when he signed it. He was injured his rookie year, lost Nick Collins in week 2 his second season, and played a JAG his 3rd. At the time it seemed HUGE, but in hindsight it's a bargain.

Like Earl Thomas of Seattle Safeties need at least a competent player next to them. Seattle started 0-2 without Chancellor last season, Thomas needed his sidekick. Burnett missed 5 of the first 6 weeks last season and the Packers still started 6-0, a testament to just how good HHCD is and the rest of this defense has become.

HHCD and Burnett are a Top 3 Safety Combo and by the end of the season could be the best. If they can ALL just stay healthy, especially Burnett and Shields this Secondary will be talked about as being one of the best in the NFL.

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Tundraboy's picture

July 14, 2016 at 08:47 am

Sigh. Just cant wait for THIS season or at least preseason to get here.

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Bearmeat's picture

July 14, 2016 at 07:59 pm

Preseason is interminable. I'd rather have more regular season games and less preseason.

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Chad Lundberg's picture

July 19, 2016 at 05:48 pm

Preseason needs some kind of fixin, that's for sure. But this year is very different, at least for me. We have a back-up quarterback that's going to make it very interesting, someone who can run and throw will actually make it much more exciting, as opposed to the guy who scrambles for his life and throws for 80 yards and 2 interceptions. The preseason finale last year showed us that preseason can have more, and Brett Hundley was at the center of that.

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marpag1's picture

July 14, 2016 at 09:44 am

I really think that there are quite a few very nice safety tandems in the league. DEN and SEA got the (well-deserved) love in this article, but I actually think that NE and especially KC are both better. CIN's safeties are quite underrated. So are PHI's.

Based on last year, I'd say GB's safeties were on a par with CIN and PHI, but a notch below KC, NE, DEN and SEA. But Zach is probably right that if Dix can make a little jump and Burnett can stay on the field, this is easily a top 5 group. It might have been that already last year.

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EdsLaces's picture

July 14, 2016 at 09:57 am

I gotta stop checking this site. It's articles like this that make me wish summer was over. WHO DOES THAT!? I love this team and I love our secondary the most. We got a couple solid vets and a couple rising stars. Randall and Clinton D are gonna make some fn plays this year and I can't wait.

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JerseyAl's picture

July 14, 2016 at 12:12 pm

I'm curious - what's your issue with this article?

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Bearmeat's picture

July 14, 2016 at 12:41 pm

I think he's saying that the article pumped him up for the season, and no sane person wishes summer was over.

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D-wing's picture

July 14, 2016 at 12:54 pm

I'd hazard a guess Ed enjoyed it too much. Sounds like it hyped him up and made him wish his summer away so he could start watching the secondary in game.

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Ibleedgreenmore's picture

July 14, 2016 at 02:58 pm

First the heat here has been brutal and second I want to see the Pack play. I love this team and have since the 1950s and oh yeah I am that old and I watched them on B&W now that was fun.

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EdsLaces's picture

July 14, 2016 at 06:44 pm

Bearmeet hit the nail on the head AL. I'm just ready....

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ZacharyJacobson's picture

July 14, 2016 at 01:49 pm

This confused me when I first read it and I thought you had this deep issue with the article. Then it came to me and realized what you really meant and all I can say is - I'm right there with you, my friend. The season can't come fast enough. Thanks for reading.

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JerseyAl's picture

July 14, 2016 at 02:51 pm

yeah, I also interpreted it as a negative remark, which is why I asked. Glad the other commenters cleared that up.

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stockholder's picture

July 14, 2016 at 11:42 am

I think the word consistent is a great way to describe both. Burnett finally knows what he's doing. I would like to see more game speed from both. Hope they keep improving. Even Hyde needs to be more involved.

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David Davis's picture

July 14, 2016 at 03:43 pm

Burnett imo, might be the most underrated safety in the League.

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ben's picture

July 15, 2016 at 02:31 am

Burnett is legit. But Dix is not, and may be the most over-rated safety in the league.

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/0ap3000000397784/Ha-Ha-Cli...

AJ Hawkesk. even his returns are average

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYRkeeW_Bo0

Great coverage!!! by Millner. Safety is way way late over the top

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_H8g5DWaag

again even his returns are average, another gift

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ben's picture

July 15, 2016 at 02:28 am

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dt0q0Sr1gs

pause at 5.9 seconds. Dix got beat deep. The ball was Badly under-thrown. Tramon had good coverage though. Dix wasn't suppose to let anybody get behind him.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dp4x8O_xgWA&list=PLb5qnFwnRTezW9ETSKnwcX...

pause at 11 seconds. this time single high safety, nobody gets behind him. Should have gotten deep 6'd, instead gets another gift. average return.

Dix is not terrible in man to man coverage and probably at his best on the blitz. But he is consistently late over the top, takes horrible pursuit angles, and is a horrendous open-field tackler.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ljppFvH0jk

Clinton Dix is the most over-rated Packer since AJ Hawk.

Burnett is a bit inconsistent, but legit. This article makes me laugh

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ZacharyJacobson's picture

July 18, 2016 at 01:05 pm

These are probably a couple of the absolute worst takes I've seen in my short time with CHTV. Step away from the keyboard.

In case it weren't already obvious, that was for that Ben guy up above, not anyone who it looks like I'm replying to.

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4thand1's picture

July 14, 2016 at 06:13 pm

I'm curios if they'll rank the coaching staff?

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

July 14, 2016 at 08:48 pm

I'm a big fan of Ha Ha but he still needs to improve his breakdown when tackling. It's gotten better but considering where he started it's not enough. Safeties need to be good at tackling or the likelyhood of serious injury is just too high.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 14, 2016 at 09:49 pm

First I enjoy your articles. I have written fiction (that is a good straight line - many might suggest I write fiction on this very website), but also reports, contracts and legalDocuments. I would not dumb down your word choices. Having a good idea that you can convey with clarity is a great start. I love it when I use the perfect to convey exactly what I mean to say. You can add eloquence and polish as your writing matures. FWIW, you are doing well so far, IMO.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 15, 2016 at 07:40 am

Double post. Darn IPod.

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ZacharyJacobson's picture

July 18, 2016 at 01:08 pm

I want to thank everyone who pitched in and offered their advice with writing and whatnot. Means the world to me and I appreciate both the kind words and the pointers. It's a pleasure contributing to this site with insanely-talented colleagues and well-informed readers. Look forward to improving and continuing to pump out more work.

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