Detroit Lions, NFC North Positional Previews: Safeties
Key returning players: Eddie Jackson, Deon Bush, DeAndre Houston-Carson
New additions: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Key losses: Adrian Amos
It’s always nice for one of the NFL’s best defensive front sevens to have a dangerous group of safeties watching their backs. The Chicago Bears had that good fortune in 2018, and will look for more of the same this season as they attempt to defend their division title.
All-Pro Eddie Jackson, PFF’s highest rated safety from 2018, returns to lead the group, after racking up six interceptions and three defensive touchdowns. Jackson made a big leap after a good rookie season, and is in position to become one of the NFL’s top ballhawks. Despite playing for a new defensive coordinator in Chuck Pagano, Jackson sounds primed for year three.
He will be missing his main running-mate from the last two years however, as Adrian Amos signed with division nemesis, the Green Bay Packers. Amos’ steady, smart play will be missed; will that mean less playmaking opportunities for Jackson should teams just look away from his part of the field?
To replace Amos, the Bears gave former Packer Ha Ha Clinton-Dix a one-year deal in hopes that he can recapture some of the early pop that he provided Green Bay after being selected in the first round in 2014. Clinton-Dix did not make much of an impact in nine games with Washington, but he is very familiar with the offenses in the NFC North.
Co-2016 draftees Deon Bush and DeAndre Houston-Carson are special teams aces, but one of them could emerge as an option for defensive snaps, particularly if Pagano opts for a healthy dose of nickel and dime packages. The Bears did not select a safety in this year’s draft.
This unit essentially starts and ends with Jackson, who is one of several marquee players on a top-flight defense. Should Clinton-Dix rediscover some of his early-career swagger, it would soften the blow of losing Amos, and the Bears’ safety unit could join with their cornerbacks to form a fearsome defensive backfield for the second year in a row.
Which NFC North team do you think has the best group of safeties? Let us know in the comments section below.
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