The Chicago Bears already had a good safety duo in Eddie Jackson and Adrian Amos. With the addition of free agent Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, one could argue they somehow got better. Despite accusations of poor tackling, the 26-year old former Pro Bowler has 17 interceptions in his career. Amos has three. The coverage potential of this Bears defense just took a drastic step forward. Yet nobody is happier than Chuck Pagano.
There’s a reason for that beyond just being the new defensive coordinator too. Pagano is what they call a defensive backs specialist in the business. It’s a position group he has coached as an assistant dating all the way back to 1989. In that time he’s put together an impressive string of success stories. None more so than newest Canton member Ed Reed.
Pagano not only developed him at Miami in college but had him for four years in the NFL when coaching for the Ravens. This man knows what quality safety play is supposed to look like and how to get it. There are plenty of other examples beyond just Reed and they extend back multiple decades.
This is just one stat, so not trying to draw a major conclusion out of it, but: Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix had fewer missed tackles in 2018 (8) than Adrian Amos (9), per @PFF.
— JJ Stankevitz (@JJStankevitz) March 14, 2019
Eddie Jackson and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will love Pagano
Pagano first got to the NFL in 2001 when he joined the Cleveland Browns as their secondary coach. There he got straight to work elevating their safety position. None exhibited growth more than Earl Little. He became a starter for the first time in his career that year. He snagged five interceptions. In four years with Pagano, he would have 16 total. Keep in mind Little had been an undrafted castoff from New Orleans prior to that.
Then there’s the story of Mike Adams. A journeyman for most of his career, he arrived in Indianapolis in 2014 at the age of 33. Most thought he was a cheap role player who could help the defense with experience. Pagano saw more. Adams ended up with 12 interceptions and two Pro Bowls over three years with the Colts, by far the best stretch of his career.
This is what Pagano can do with decent talent. So what happens when you give him those who have star power. Jackson was an All-Pro in 2018. Clinton-Dix went to the Pro Bowl in 2016 and is a former 1st round pick. This has to be the most talented overall tandem that Pagano has ever coached. If he applies the same mojo he did to guys like Little and Adam, it’s frightening what those two might do this coming season.