Green Bay Packers fans have been screaming for what seems like forever about how the team needs a new attitude on defense. They’re understandably frustrated with seeing Green Bay’s defense get shredded year after year.
Some have called (loudly) for the firing of defensive coordinator Dom Capers but head coach Mike McCarthy apparently saw things differently and Capers is back again for 2014. Don’t let the return of the coordinator fool you, however. This is not the Packers defense fans have come to know and love/loathe from the past three seasons.
With the addition of Julius Peppers and first round pick HaHa Clinton-Dix, the defense seems prime for a rebound and if training camp and half the preseason are any indication, there is reason for optimism about the Packers defense in 2014.
Does it help that Clay Matthews will be healthy again? Of course. It’s never a bad thing when a player of his caliber is at full strength after two consecutive seasons battling various injuries including a hamstring and a (twice) broken thumb.
Another big reason to be excited about the Green Bay defense in 2014, even more than the return to health of Matthews, is defensive end Mike Daniels. Last year while Matthews was either out or limited with the thumb injury, Daniels broke out and showed signs of becoming the second fearsome pass rusher the Packers have been so desperately seeking. Daniels tallied 6.5 sacks and had 23 combined tackles while playing in all 16 games.
Take what he’s shown so far this preseason and one thing is becoming clear: it could be Daniels, not Matthews, that emerges as the leader of the 2014 Green Bay defense.
This is by no means any kind of a slight against the Claymaker, who has earned all the accolades he has received so far in his career. Matthews is a terrific pass rusher, but at times seems to lack that killer “I’m coming at you and I want to rip your head off”-type instinct that so many all-time great linebackers have. Take Dick Butkus or Ray Lewis, for example.
That is where Daniels comes into play. His repeated statements about being sick of seeing the defense pushed around and his willingness to “slap someone” are injections of fire and attitude the defense badly needs. The Packers have been accused in recent years of being “soft” and while things on the offense have improved with the arrival of running back Eddie Lacy, the criticism is definitely still valid.
Not if Daniels has his way. His combination of speed, power and hunger have him on the verge of becoming one of the NFL’s best defensive ends. If you combine his emergence and assume Julius Peppers still has something left in the tank plus a healthy Matthews, then suddenly the Packers have quite a ferocious pass rush. That in turn would take some pressure off the secondary where they have one rookie safety and another who is converting from playing cornerback last season (Micah Hyde).
Daniels may not run up a terribly high sack total thanks to linebackers being primary blitzers in a base 3-4, but his presence is going to be felt. If he opens up gaps for Peppers, Matthews and the rest of the linebackers, that’s fantastic. If Daniels can consistently get into the backfield however, then the Packers have one more weapon on their hands and all signs right now point to this being the case.
With the preseason only half complete, so many people are still solely focused on what Peppers will bring to the Green Bay defense or when it will “click” for Datone Jones. Even after the game he played in St. Louis where he was as disruptive as ever, not many national writers and analysts are focusing on Daniels.
By the end of the 2014 season, they will be. The Packers have a budding star on the defensive line and he’s flying under the radar.
Just how Mike Daniels wants it.
Mayfield Sports Marketing, our official sponsor, is a booking and marketing agency for off the field marketing for Green Bay Packers players such as MIKE DANIELS. If your company, association or charity may be interested in booking a Green Bay Packers player for a community event or private event, contact our sponsor at www.MayfieldSports.com or 262.366.8188 and be sure to tell tell them ALLGBP sent you.
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke
19 thoughts on “Mike Daniels, not Clay Matthews, Will Lead Packers’ Defense”
Matthews was never the ‘leader’ on the defense many had hoped for whether because of injury or he simply isn’t a vocally intense guy.He seemed more worried about his ‘Fabio’ look too often…..3..2..1 here it comes. 🙂
It’s a great problem to worry about!
Daniels is the future. He plays with attitude and heart. Peppers is just a band-aid for a gaping wound.
I wouldn’t take 10 Mike Daniels for one CMIII. I like Daniels but he is a red chipper. CMIII is only blue chipper we have. Peppers will be a big disappointment, just like he was last year except worse because he’s one year older and playing a new position. Search for CMIII’s complement continues. Maybe it will be this Elliott guy. He certainly has the movement skills of a rush OLB. It is strange that TT can find quality UDFA like Pennel and Elliott but he can’t draft them of sign them in free agency (Peppers?!). AROD could be MVP this year while CMIII leads the league in sacks and it won’t matter, rest of defensive front 7 sucks too much. If we are lucky enought to make the post-season (and I’m thinking not this year) we will get another one and done early exit as the opponent targets Hawk all day long.
I think Peppers will do the job they’re paying him to do well: Be a part time/secondary rush threat.
It keeps them from DEPENDING COMPLETELY on Perry and D Jones to develop. And hey – they had the salary cap room…
I just did the math, Elliott is on pace for a 48-sack season!
You have to wonder if GB is working on some 43 stuff this year. Daniels and Raji at DT. D. Jones/Perry/Peppers/Neal at DE. Hawk, B Jones and CM3 as LBs… it would be a HUGE surprise and SICK to boot.
First and foremost the defense needs to remain healthy. This alone should contribute to improved play and consistency as the season goes on. As for leadership, this is a quality that is earned by playing big in big situations. While Daniels is saying the right things he needs to make big plays in big spots. That earns respect and leadership. CM3 is a great player, but I have not seen him as the leader of this defense, like Nitschke or Reggie White clearly were. This defense has a good blend of experience and youth. CM3, Raji, Peppers, Shields, Tramon, B. Jones, and yes, even Hawk and a few others, have plenty of NFL playing time to hold this D together and mentor the younger players at each level of the defense. As for attitude, Daniels has it. B. Jones, Hawk, Raji, Peppers, Tramon, Shields, Hyde, Hayward and the rest of the D need it. With the exception of A. Rodgers looking sharp, remember that these pre-season performances are pretty meaningless. Even the starters are playing not to get hurt at this point. First, stay healthy for the remaining pre-season and then we get the chance to see what we have over the first 3-4 games this year, that’s the real test. After those first 4 games we’ll have indications if our defense is improved and if they can be a factor in helping this team get deep in the playoffs. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since ’61
I’m so tired of people doubting my boy Daniels. Yea my HS co-captain in football and wrestling at highland regional in NJ. That man has 10x the fire of any of the players on the packers and I stand by that. Since we’ve been team mates from his 7th-11th grade years we were wrestling and football teammates. And though we weren’t a power house squad we knew it was mike that had the fire drive and skills to make it. You asshole packer fans who don’t see that like Archie are unappreciative of a work horse talent like him. I stand by the fact that in time Daniels will have had a bigger impact in GB than Reggie White. I’ve known since we were kids that he had a unique fire about him. Mike has heart of a spartan worrior. No fear, pure rage on the field. So you guys can tout CM3 all you want but mike is the real deal.
Big fan of Mike from the beginning. I see his fire on the field even in the preseason and I think he’s infecting his team mates with that same fire. A very good thing.
Ok. We’ll I’m impressed by your endorsement. Make room, I’m climbing aboard the wagon.
no doubting him here… Jersey tough!
I love Daniels, and I think he will have a great year, but I’m holding my breath for one reason. The guy is kinda small, and while that hasn’t been a problem just yet, it still concerns me. Only a little though, just saying.
Chad seriously, your gonna knack him for his height? Obviously you don’t understand that smaller DL have leverage on taller OL because of the center of gravity is lower, and can knock the guys off base easier. Also look at my post above. 6.5 sacks last year, and your still worried? And as a former NJ regional wrestling champ at 215, he knows how to use leverage. Don’t doubt my boy. #tartanpride
It’s not that he can’t do it – it’s that Daniels IS smaller and going against bigger guys down after down IS eventually going to wear him out.
Look at Jay Ratliff. Granted, he was a NT in the 34 for the Cowboys, but he went through 3 years of injuries after 3 years of dominance. Being 6’5″ and 305 DOES help 34 DLmen compared to 6’1″ and 285 (providing the talent is there)
Are you serious? You really didn’t read my last two posts? This guy (mike Daniels), plays like a spartan. The man used to play 2way, RB/FB and DE and we ran a chip Kelley type of offense, but 80% of our Offense in HS was running the damn ball. The man has stamina for days. Trust me he was my wrestling partner since he was in the 7th grade. Plus if you really watch all the snaps mike got last year he was out performing his counterparts on the DL. You don’t get 6.5 sacks if you don’t have talent in the NFL .
He has the talent, and he has stats to prove it. But for DL he’s just a little small is I’m saying. Teams are going to take him much more seriously this year. I’m 80-85% sure that he will get 8-9 sacks, but he’s a 6’1/2″ lineman playing a 3-4. That concerns me, but like I said, only a little bit.
Agreed. John Randle was a short defensive lineman, and look at the career he had…
Comments are closed.