Today we’re going to continue the series that looks at which Dallas Cowboys players have left and what the team has done to replace them. This next position has been a hot topic for Cowboy fans, draft gurus, and sports writers for years now, the safe position. It seemed like for years the Cowboys under Jason Garrett and Rod Marinelli focused more on building the defensive line instead of solidifying the back end of their defense.
This has led to one of the most polarizing players to occupy the Cowboys’ safety post over the past four seasons.
The old one: “The goat” Jeff heath
Where to start with Heath? It was a player who would make you jump out of your seat to do a save tackle or even a big blow to an opposing player. But, he was also the player who was constantly being attacked by fouls, and also the player who took bad angles while trying to make a save or just to eat on a tackle in the open field.
For years, Cowboys fans had to take the good with the bad with Heath in the starting lineup. He was a high school leader and had respect in the locker room, but in the end his style of play was going to be his downfall with the new Cowboys coaching staff. Defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is proud of his defenses that create turnovers and tackles. Those are two things the Heath have been very hit with, especially the tackle.
His playing style was also starting to take its toll on his body as he continued to injure his shoulder due to his hard-hitting style. So it was pretty easy to see that change was underway once he became a free agent and the Cowboys wasted no time in finding a replacement that matched their needs at the job.
The new one: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
When the Cowboys were looking for security in the open market, they were looking for someone who would be able to cover midfield, play with the ball and make tackles in the field. Luckily, Clinton-Dix, a former Mike McCarthy draft pick, was looking for a new team and was a perfect fit for Nolan. Clinton-Dix had rebounded in a few teams, but during his stint with the Chicago Bears last season, he seemed to revert to his former playing player, looking more like the player he was during his time with McCarthy in Green Bay.
Clinton-Dix was creating turnovers and making plays all over the court, great news for a Cowboys team looking to put a second safety on the court with Xavier Woods. Both have the ability to create turnovers, cover tight full backs and ends, and the ability to cover midfield. With the two on the ground, Nolan now has the ability to disguise his defensive covers, something the previous defensive staff never seemed to want to do.
The Cowboys made a good decision in choosing Clinton-Dix and did so on a low cost as well. They have acquired a security that will be a better playmaker than Heath, and also a player who can lead the secondary thanks to his experience in the league.