1) Introduction: Mention the name Mike Daniels outside of Green Bay and you’ll probably get blank stares. But Packers fans know him, and they know him well. Without the efforts of Daniels this season, the Packers would have had one of the weakest defensive lines in the league.
- Age: 25
- Born: 5/5/1989 in Stratford, NJ
- Height: 6’0″
- Weight: 305
- College: Iowa
- Rookie Year: 2012
- NFL Experience: 3
3) Expectations coming into the season: Anchor the defensive line. With B.J. Raji’s season ending early and the rest of the line filled with unproven talent, a lot was resting on Daniels’ shoulders. While Daniels didn’t explode and catapult himself to a John Randle level of success, he was damn good, and met the lofty expectations set for him
4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: According to Pro Football Focus, Daniels graded positively in 13 of the Packers’ 18 games, highlighted by a dominating effort against New England and a late sack of Tom Brady. It seems like forever ago, but with the Packers trailing the Jets 21-3 early and facing an 0-2 start to the season, Daniels really came to life and helped the defense get back on track in that comeback win. Some people might point to the Buffalo loss as Daniels’ lowlight. He really didn’t do much in that game, but overall, the defense was good that entire contest. To me, Daniels’ real lowlight came in the NFC title game. A little pressure from Daniels during the Packers’ collapse might have slowed things down a bit. Instead, he was nowhere to be found.
5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Without Daniels, this very well could have turned into another “Fire Capers” season. Daniels wasn’t getting a ton of pass-rushing chances early on, but that changed in November/December, and Daniels capitalized. Daniels’ relentless effort combined with his ability to stake out territory in the other team’s backfield and alter plays was indispensable for Capers and the D in 2014. Hopefully Daniels continues flying under the radar. I like it when he blows up a play, and fans of the other team are like, “Mike Daniels? Who the hell is that guy?”
6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: God, I’m sick of writing about the playoff meltdown. I’d rather watch a Nickelback music video or darn socks instead of continually re-visiting whatever the hell happened in Seattle. But writing about the Packers is sometimes a dirty job, and somebody’s gotta do it. So, anyway, like every other player on the field, Daniels disappeared the final 4 minutes of the NFC Championship game. Yeah, he was solid against Dallas, but one play — just one play — from one of the Packers’ big-time players would have been nice late vs. Seattle.
7) Intangibles: Like Packers fans, Daniels was obviously fed up with the perception that the Packers defense was soft. He made this clear with some tough-guy talk during the preseason where he vowed the Packers defense would be better and threatened to beat up (metaphorically beat up, anyway) teammates who didn’t up their intensity. Daniels backed up all that talk with his stellar play. I’m usually not someone who’s impressed by bravado or sensational quotes players give to the press, but it was nice to see Daniels bring a little attitude. The calm and reasoned approach most in the Packers organization used when addressing the defense was getting tiresome.
Season Report Card (Player Grades):
(A-) Level of expectations met during the season
(A) Contributions to team’s overall success.
(C+) Contributions to team during the playoffs
Overall Grade: A-——————
Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .