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The 5 O’Clock Club: Redskins safeties, then and now

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere…

Washington Redskins v Carolina Panthers Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

The 5 o’clock club is published Wednesday to Saturday during the season, and aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

A retrospective list of some of the Redskins safeties of recent years

2018 – Swearinger & Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

2016Duke Ihenacho & Will Blackmon

2015 – Brandon Merriweather & Ryan Clark

2013 – Brandon Merriweather & Baccari Rambo

2012Madieu Williams & Reed Doughty

2011LaRon Landry & OJ Atogwe

Some quick comments

I don’t know about you, but at the moment, I’m not leaning towards letting HHCD walk for a comp pick this offseason.

This pair of veteran free safeties we have right now should be in the Redskins’ plans for the next few seasons. We need both the consistency at the position and the quality of play.

Here are some comments made by James Dorsett from his excellent Stats & Snaps (Defense/ST) article, published yesterday:

D.J. Swearinger

This was the second time this year and the third time in his career and as a member of the Redskins that Swearinger has intercepted two passes in a game. His 4 interceptions this season ties the career high he set in 2017 and leads the entire NFL this season. His 7 total pass defenses rank third among all safeties this year. No safety has racked up more PDs since 2016 (25) than Swearinger has.

Washington Redskins v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Let’s also not forget that Swearinger has recorded a sack, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble this season. He is one of just ten players who have done all those things and intercepted a pass in 2018.

D.J. Swearinger hasn’t been just one of the best players on the Redskins or at the safety position this year, he’s been one of the very best players in the whole league.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

The soon-to-be 26-year-old has given up just one touchdown reception and ranks fifth in receiving yards allowed (57) and seventh in yards per coverage snap (0.27) among all safeties who have played on at least 200 coverage snaps this season. He is one of just six players who have forced a fumble, record a sack and picked off multiple passes in 2018. The others are Harrison Smith, Shawn Williams, Donte Jackson, Eddie Jackson and D.J. Swearinger.

NFL: Green Bay Packers-Training Camp Jim Matthews-USA TODAY NETWORK

Swearinger is the only safety who has intercepted more passes (4 to 3) and/or has a higher PFF grade than Ha Ha Clinton Dix does (90.9 to 87.7) this year. Swearinger and Clinton-Dix lead all NFL safeties with 11 interceptions a piece since 2016. The only player, regardless of position, who has picked off more balls in that span is Marcus Peters (12).


The Redskins now have what is likely the best starting safety duo and the best safety corps from top to bottom in the entire NFL. This addition should significantly improve what was already a top-5 defense.

Current Redskins safeties

The Redskins have a young and talented group of safeties that represent the most talent the franchise has fielded at the position since the death of Sean Taylor.

D.J. Swearinger is the “old man” of the group at age 27. The well-traveled player landed in Washington last season, and last week talked about the benefits of playing, for the first time in his career, in the same defensive system for 2 years in a row. He proclaimed that he feels like he’s found a home with the Redskins, where he is recognized as a vocal leader, not just on defense, but the team as a whole.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has been a multi-season starter for the Packers since the middle of his rookie season. He is currently among the top rated safeties in the league according to PFF, while some analysts would tell you that he is overrated, and his notoriety is reliant primarily on his draft status — 21st overall in 2014.

Montae Nicholson, a 4th round pick in the 2017 draft, missed much of his rookie season with injuries. This year, he has showed promise, but has also been inconsistent. Jay Gruden said in yesterday’s press conference that Montae just had a “small procedure” on his hip, though Gruden didn’t sound as though he was sure Nicholson would even miss any games.

Deshazor Everett is a big contributor on special teams and the kind of backup that every team needs. He can come into the game when needed and play well enough to keep the Redskins competitive on the field.

Kenny Ladler played as a starting safety for two seasons in the CFL, but is primarily known as a special teams ace and a wicked good tackler.

Troy Apke was sent to IR this week with a nagging hamstring injury. The fourth round rookie has used his speed to contribute on special teams, but looked out of place on defense during the preseason and has a number of doubters among the Redskins fan base.

DJ Swearinger 6 seasons, 27 years old

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix 5 seasons, 25 years old

Montae Nicholson 2 seasons, 22 years old

Deshazor Everett 4 seasons, 26 years old

Kenny Ladler 2 seasons*, 26 years old

Troy Apke (IR) rookie, 23 years old


How do you feel about the Redskins safeties as a group?

This poll is closed

  • 69%
    Man, this is an exciting league-leading unit, and I look forward to the next several years
    (517 votes)
  • 21%
    This is a good unit, and HHCD looks like a solid 9-game rental
    (158 votes)
  • 7%
    Good, man... good
    (54 votes)
  • 0%
    They’re overrated. Fans are looking at them with burgundy colored glasses
    (7 votes)
  • 0%
    They suck
    (4 votes)
740 votes total Vote Now