S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Recalls Teachable Moment From Last Trip to Carolina

No matter how adamant Green Bay Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is that he's playing at the same level that earned him a trip to his first Pro Bowl in 2016, all that gets thrown out the window.

Sunday presents a new opportunity for the fourth-year safety, whose apparent "star-studded" play has dipped below what many box score scouts are accustomed to seeing. He'll be lining up on the back end of Green Bay's defense during its business trip to Carolina against Cam Newton and the Panthers -- a chance for Clinton-Dix to redeem himself.

In the last meeting with the Panthers -- also in Carolina, Clinton-Dix got into a sideline altercation with linebacker Julius Peppers and defensive tackle B.J. Raji, both of which, are no longer with the team. It came following a touchdown drive that put the Panthers up 37-14, and Peppers seemed to have rubbed salt in the secondary's wound.

Raji shoved Clinton-Dix, but apparently, that shove that all but stoked the strenuous flames led to Clinton-Dix having an interception a week later against the Detroit Lions.

Things are a little different in 2017. The Packers aren't hitting the road in the middle of their season at 6-1 against an undefeated Panthers team. Instead, they're fighting for their playoff lives at 7-6 with high hopes of winning out the rest of the way -- three more games.

"It was an all-out fight, literally," said Clinton-Dix after practice on Friday. "I got into it with two great players on the sideline, a lot of frustration, and I'm just excited about this match-up this week. Going back to Carolina and having the chance to clean myself up from the last time I was down there, I look forward to the match-up."

He'll be able to right any wrongs committed on that heated sideline when he was 23 years old. Now, less than a week removed from turning 26, Clinton-Dix is hoping to let his maturation speak for itself in Carolina.

"I learned a lot just from that, from the media, from [Peppers]. I got my foot off the ground after that game. I think that game gave me the mojo to push forward and learn from it, and I don't think I've taken a step back since then."

Clinton-Dix and the safety opposite him, Morgan Burnett, have a seemingly insurmountable task this week in keeping Newton and the Panthers' fifth-ranked rushing offense in check from their position. They'll be stepping up to the plate to accept this task head-on without cornerbacks Kevin King -- now on injured reserve -- and Davon House, who is dealing with a transverse process fracture in his back as well as an ailing shoulder injury.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (21) is second amongst safeties in interceptions since the start of the 2016 season. (Brad Rempel/USA TODAY Sports)

There would be no better time for Clinton-Dix to suddenly snap into becoming more of an enforcer after tallying an interception last week against the Cleveland Browns. As he told ESPN's Rob Demovsky earlier this month, opposing quarterbacks just don't seem to be throwing the ball his way, which evidently, is a testament to him being in the right place at the right time.

Clinton-Dix may be opposite rookie Josh Jones -- also the proud owner of an interception against the Browns -- this week as opposed to Burnett, as Burnett may need to play nickel cornerback due to the Packers' horrific shortage of cornerbacks.

"They have a great set of weapons, from the run game to the passing game; we just have to be able to stop one of them. Containing them to throwing the ball or running it, whatever we stop first, and just holding them to that. I think we have a great chance of doing that this week."

Since being drafted by the Packers in the first round (21st overall) of the 2014 draft, Clinton-Dix has steadily increased his interception totals by season. He had one in his rookie year, two in 2015 and five in 2016. Currently sitting at three and second on the team in that category, he'll have three games left this season to either replicate or top his total from a season ago.

He and the entire defensive unit will get somewhat of a break during that three-game stretch to close out the regular season with Aaron Rodgers back under center at quarterback. With their No. 1 signal-caller back in his element, that likely means the less amount of time the defense has to be on the field.

That's if Rodgers comes back playing like his usual self, echoing the numerous reports saying that he certainly is practicing like it.

"I'm glad to have 12 back," Clinton-Dix said. "It kind of pissed me off last Saturday in practice getting into a rhythm. I think I couldn't stop him at all last Saturday so I wasn't surprised at all when he decided to come back this week.

"We look forward to it, man. We're glad about the opportunity we have with him. It's going to be on us and the defense to get things going and get off the field on third down."

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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 (10)

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Samson's picture

December 15, 2017 at 08:24 pm

"Julius Peppers and defensive tackle B.J. Raji, both of which, are no longer with the team"

The Packer "D" would be better if both were healthy and playing this Sunday. (for the Pack)

Ha-Ha is young and hopefully he'll realize that just say'in it doesn't necessarily translate to be'in it. -- TT has failed on most of his high (defensive) draft picks. -- I'd hate to think that Ha-Ha will be another.

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dobber's picture

December 16, 2017 at 01:32 pm

I never thought, after last season, the Packers would miss Peppers as much as they do, but they made no solid moves to replace him. Biegel was drafted, but to expect him to pick up Peppers's 7+ sacks was a stretch, and Brooks has not done much with his snaps. Peppers is a physical freak who rarely misses time, and even if the Packers were 'mis-using' him, he was still productive in his mis-use.

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Turophile's picture

December 16, 2017 at 03:30 am

Kenny Clark > B.J.Raji, Samson. Also Clark is still improving.

Peppers picks his times, not surprising at age 37. He can be invisible for long periods, but I agree he often has a couple of impact plays in a game.

To adress TT's drafting , Samson <your quote> "TT has failed on most of his high (defensive) draft picks" <end quote>. Wrong again. His drafting IS spotty on defense, but to say he has failed on most of his defensive picks is flat wrong.

For every Quinten Rollins, Kyler Fackrell or Jerel Worthy there are average players like Mike Neal and Datone Jones and solid-to-high-quality picks like Damarious Randall, Kenny Clark, Mike Daniels, Morgan Burnett, Nick Perry, Kevin King (and Josh Jones should be a keeper as well).

Surely you know enough to realise that ALL GMs fail regularly - drafting isn't easy and the Packers have had the added difficulty of (almost always) drafting at the back half, often the back end of each round, for two decades.

It's not what you don't know that kills you - it's what you know to be true that isn't, that will be your downfall.

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Nick Perry's picture

December 16, 2017 at 05:33 am

Considering Thompson has drafted 27 players, TWENTY SEVEN just since 2012 who play defense you'd have to imagine the Packers would field by now both a young and good to great defense by now.

One would also think since Thomson has used his first pick in the draft EVERY time the last 6 years on defense, his 2nd pick 3 times, and his 3rd pick 4 times, you have a defense that could at least not make you cringe every time they take the field wouldn't you? One could argue it's the players, Capers or both. Since NOTHING has changed since the Packers defense ranked 32nd in 2011 you have to challenge management at that point. I mean WTF is going on out there!!

I'm no expert but I do know this. If this was ANY other team in the NFL Thompson would have been fired by now. Billionaire Owners expect more from the people they put in charge of their billion dollar companies. Thompson has been able to ride the Aaron Rodgers train for far too long. Give him credit for drafting Rodgers but hey, that was 13 years ago in 2005. Give him credit for signing players like Charles Woodson and Pickett. Give him credit for drafting Nick Collins, Greg Jennings, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, BJ Raji, Clay Matthews, and Desmond Bishop all key members of the 2010 SB team but again, that was a LONG time ago. What Thompson has done the last 6 years hasn't been good enough. It's a friggen travesty Rodgers has only won one SB and even a bigger one he's only been to one.

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fastmoving's picture

December 16, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Didn't work out well for all the Billionaire Owners the last 30 years and there desicion making since I watching football. At least besides Kraft......

I did not like DC too much, just from the start. MM is just ok. But I dont see an GM that outperformed TT deadly.
And I never would like the Packers having an owner. espacially if I see whats out there and what kind of desicions they make........

I just like it the way it is and it always beats the alternatives by a wiiiiide margin for sure......

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

December 19, 2017 at 10:21 am

Again maybe because we kept on Capers on this team for so long and we have failed to get any type of tight end on this team now granted I thought Ted Thompson did a good job in getting Martellus Bennett Lance Kendricks and having Richard Rodgers but that whole thing just fell apart should have never falling apart. I thought we can really solidify the tight end position I just don't get it.

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Hematite's picture

December 16, 2017 at 06:06 am

It's painfully obvious to me that Dix tries to avoid contact unless he has no choice.
And even then he's not tackling with authority, he's diving at ankles.
He's just not a physical safety.

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CAG123's picture

December 16, 2017 at 01:17 pm

Thank you! I’ve been saying it all year there is something wrong with him I can’t be the only one that remembers his stellar inbox play in 2015 and his willingness to engage in the open field it was during the 2015 season is when I took more notice of him this year just look at the tape, unless the receiver is in the air or his back is turned HHCD is very timid, when he meets a ball carrier in the open field he’ll either shuffle his feet to stall the them and let someone else make the tackle or he’ll let them run by and push them out of bounds.

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

December 19, 2017 at 10:17 am

HaHa Clinton-Dix could easily have pushed Josh Hawkins and Byrd out of the end zone and that would have never been a touchdown but he just stood there and did nothing absolutely nothing horrible horrific nobody says anything about it. I haven't heard anyone haven't heard any sports writer or anybody say anything about him just standing there that is just basic knowledge you push the receiver anybody out of bounds so they don't get their body their feet in bounds for a touchdown or reception.

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Doug Niemczynski's picture

December 19, 2017 at 10:19 am

Don't get me wrong I like HaHa Clinton-Dix but there is no mental toughness on this team the whole defensive staff needs to be wiped out. Go inside Marvin Lewis as the defensive coordinator for the Packers or go get Adam Zimmer from the Vikings do something I haven't heard anything all I've heard of Packer fans saying they won a new defensive coordinator but have heard nothing from the Packer organization as what they're going to do or even by the sports writers

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