Last season, the Bears had what was probably the best safety tandem in the league. The Packers… did not.
Much has changed since then, including the Packers poaching Adrian Amos from the Bears and drafting Darnell Savage. Meanwhile, the Bears fought back, by signing former Packers safety HaHa Clinton-Dix.
So who is in better shape now?
Let’s start with the Packers.
Adrian Amos was expensive and a lot of Bears fans are laughing, claiming the Packers overpaid.
Whenever you sign someone in free agency, you are in an auction. To get a player, you pay more than the other 31 teams, it’s that simple.
However, the reason most Bears fans laugh is because Amos isn’t a “big play” guy. They’re right. He’s a box safety, he’s the prototypical strong safety that the Packers have lacked.
It’s been a long time since the Packers had a guy who could do this:
The Packers also moved up aggressively in the draft to make Darnell Savage the first defensive back taken (See more on the why the Packers did that here: What Was Gutey Thinking With His Moves At Safety?)
One of the big reason was the speed aspect. Darnell Savage lit up the combine with a 4.36, while Adrian Amos ran a 4.37 at his pro day. Since Jaire Alexander “only” ran a 4.38, it’s possible that these safeties will be the two fastest guys on the field whenever they are out there.
The Bears, meanwhile, sport a 4.42 from Jackson’s pro day and a 4.5 from HaHa at the Combine.
Let’s look a little closer at the Bears safeties.
The Bears have Eddie Jackson, one of the best safeties in the league, who was an All Pro last year. He’s a big play guy with 6 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and 3 defensive touchdowns last season (giving him FIVE defensive touchdowns in his two years during the league).
HaHa, on the other hand, carries the label “Pro Bowl Safety,” though everyone in Green Bay takes that about seriously as Mitch Trubisky’s “Pro Bowl” label.
Sure, he is capable of making great plays, but he also mixes in a lot of this:
At the end of the day, the real difference is in complementary skills.
The Big Point
The Bears have an amazing ball-hawking big play safety in Eddie Jackson. They basically have a much poorer, slower, far less consistent version of that in HaHa Clinton-Dix.
Meanwhile, the Packers drafted Darnell Savage to be their big play ballhawk, but they are pairing him with an enforcing box safety in Adrian Amos.
This gives the Packers a lot more flexibility in their scheme and provides complementary skills. The Bears no longer have a strong safety on the back-end whose job is to lay the lumber and provide run support. Instead, they have two guys who will be fighting for loose balls.
I don’t think it’ll be long before we see Jackson going for an interception, but getting plowed into by HaHa as he pursues the ball.
I’m actually looking forward to it.