“I like to line up, punch a guy in his face, in his mouth, in his chest, then disengage, locate the ball, throw [my defender] and make a tackle.”
“I really wanted to be the biggest, baddest guy—not to mess with anybody, just so nobody would mess with me,”
“That’s got to make you angry to the point where you’re like, ‘I’m going to shut these people up.”
If the person who uttered the above statements happened to be 310 lbs of muscle on top of muscle, one could easily surmise that would be a teammate they want on their side, ideally on the defensive line. Lo and behold, the Green Bay Packers have this luxury in defensive tackle, Mike Daniels.
The third statement is from the Daniels this past week. He couldn’t be more right. Soft. Hesitant. Undisciplined. These are frequent terms used to describe the defense of the Green Bay Packers. They have earned it, or at least those not wearing #76 have earned it.
Daniels has far too often been the whipped cream on top of a s*** cake known as the Packers’ defense. He’s in the prime of his career and knows it. He’s madder and more motivated than ever. It’s go time for the 2017 squad. He is going to do everything in his power as one of eleven men on the field to wreak havoc on the other side of the ball. Lackluster support and questionable strategy from Dom Capers be damned, he is going to blow up everything in his vicinity. Will it be enough?
A handful of other defenders appear to be first in line in boarding the Daniels train. Four of them are safeties. Another defensive lineman or two may be on board. The jury is out on the linebackers, unless someone magically delivers the 2010 version of Clay Matthews from a DeLorean.
Haha Clinton-Dix and Morgan Burnett are classic professionals. The ceiling for HHCD is high, as in All-Pro high. His approach and discipline to the game have him on the cusp of several special years. Burnett is in seasoned vet with the versatility and knowledge that can educate some of the younger pups on how to perform come Sunday.
The other two safeties, Josh Jones and Kentrell Brice, are young headhunters who won’t hesitate to punch someone in the mouth like Daniels preaches. Since his first minicamp practice, Jones has put everyone on notice. Brice was an undrafted free agent in 2016 that hit his way into significant playing time this past January. Just ask Cole Beasley
Murmurs have drifted from training camp of big play potential coming from Dean Lowry. Will he be next up on the Daniels train? Can Kenny Clark make “the second year jump” alongside Lowry? Can the Packers get by with enough ferocity from one defensive lineman and a crew of safeties? A typical year from Aaron Rodgers plus an angry defense will pave an easy path about 250 miles due west of Lambeau Field. It’s a simple formula. There just needs to be enough tickets punched for the Daniels train.
________________John Piotrowski is a UW-Eau Claire alum, spending most of his life in western WI. He makes the trek east to Lambeau whenever possible. Follow him on twitter at @piosGBP.