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Mike Daniels Is Cullen Jenkins 2.0

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Mike Daniels Is Cullen Jenkins 2.0

This is part two of a four-part series that will analyze the four most intriguing Packers players going into the 2014 season. We will now look at Mike Daniels.

It is hard to say that Cullen Jenkins’ exit was the sole cause of the lack of consistent pass rush in recent seasons, but he was definitely a force as an interior defender. The majority of Packers fans thought that losing Jenkins was a huge blow to the pass rush and defense as a whole.

However, it looks like the Packers may have finally found Jenkins’ replacement.

Mike Daniels showed some flashes during his rookie season in 2012, but he really exploded onto the scene in 2013. He excelled when he played the three-technique defensive tackle position in the nickel and dime packages (film analysis on this below). His 6.5 sacks and pressures are impressive, but he also played the run well.  

Daniels plays with great leverage, has a terrific “punch” and uses his hands very well against the run and when rushing the passer.

When studying his 2013 tape, it is evident how disruptive he is. This article will feature examples of two running plays and two passing plays where Daniels was disruptive. First, we will look at what he can do against the run.

Here is a play against the Eagles in Week 10. The Packers were in their nickel defense, and Daniels (No. 76 and the red arrow) lined up at the three-technique defensive tackle spot (outside shoulder of the guard). His responsibility was the strong side B gap.

The Eagles ran an outside zone running play with LeSean McCoy in the backfield. The left guard tried to reach block Daniels (red arrow), but Daniels initiated contact with his hands to the chest of the left guard, “locked out” his arms and knocked the guard back, which allowed A.J. Hawk (yellow arrow) to penetrate untouched to take down McCoy.

When defending a running play that involves zone blocking, the key is penetration, and Daniels single-handedly destroyed this run.

The next play is from the Week 2 game against the Redskins. The Packers were in their nickel defense, and Daniels (red arrow) was lined up again at the three-technique defensive tackle spot (B gap responsibility).

The Redskins ran a toss play with zone blocking, which was designed for running back Alfred Morris to cut back toward the middle. Once again, Daniels single-handedly disrupted the play.

The right guard and center tried to reach block Daniels in order to get to the second level (linebackers). However, they did not even touch inside linebacker Brad Jones, because Daniels knocked the right guard back and then split the center and right guard’s block.

In addition to splitting the block, Daniels made the tackle himself. Due to his penetration, Morris had no cutback lane, which immediately ended the play. It is very rare in the NFL to see an offensive line not gain access to the second level, and in this case, Daniels was the cause of their inability to do that.

Now, we will look at two plays when he rushed the passer in the nickel and dime.

The first play is from the Week 16 game against the Steelers. The Packers were in their nickel, and Daniels (red arrow) was lined up in a 2i technique (inside shade of the guard).

This play by Daniels was another example of his exceptional ability to use his hands. At the snap, he engaged the guard and then executed a pass-rush move that looked similar to the “push, pull” technique. In other words, he started out like he was bull rushing but then grabbed the guard, tossed him aside and forced Roethlisberger to throw an incompletion.

Daniels almost recorded a sack, but his pressure caused a dangerous pass. This is one piece of proof that Daniels will demand double teams most of the time next year.

The second and final pass rush play is from the Week 12 game against the Vikings. The Packers were in their dime defense, and Daniels was lined up again as a 3-technique defensive tackle (circled in red).

At the snap, Daniels was immediately double teamed by the center and left guard. However, with his high motor, he was relentless. He eventually performed a “swim” move on the center and flushed Christian Ponder out of the pocket, which led to a sack by Clay Matthews. This was the prototypical “won’t show up in the stat sheet” play for Mike Daniels.

Again, these are just four plays out of many that demonstrate Daniels' ability. Going into his third year, he will likely play in every package (3-4, nickel, and dime).

When Johnny Jolly was injured, Daniels stepped in and played some as the five-technique defensive end (outside shade of the tackle) in the 3-4, but his best fit would probably be the three-technique defensive end spot. His presence against the run and impactful interior pass rush are very valuable for this defense, and the expectation is that he will continue to improve.

Daniels seems to always be “hungry”, and he has a “can’t be denied” mindset, which is what this defense needs.

Thanks for reading, Packers fans. Follow me on Twitter at @RobertOlson92 for daily analysis on the Packers.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (38) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Evan's picture

Good read.

Out of curiosity, I went back to see what CHTV said about Daniels at the time of the draft.

Found this from Zach:

"DL Mike Daniels, Iowa (No. 132)
6-0, 291 lbs.

I'll be the first to admit that I had Daniels ranked as the No. 25 overall defensive line prospect in the Cheesehead TV Draft Guide. His size worried me for the transition to a 3-4 defense. However, the more you watch Daniels on film, the more you like the pick. He's explosive off the snap, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if Capers sprung him loose as an inside penetrator in the Packers' sub-packages."

Nice call, Zach.

Also found this little gem from PackSmack:

"packsmack25: McMillian is my favorite pick. I think he's going to be absolutely incredible."

heh

RC Packer Fan's picture

Thanks for finding that.
I remember that Daniels size worried just about everyone.

I do find it funny when I hear people talking about Aaron Donald and they said he was to small, and he wouldn't be a good fit for the Packers because of his size.
Well Donald is 6'1 - 285 lbs. As you listed Evan, Daniels was 6'0 - 291 lbs.

Very similar size.

While I don't think the Packers will draft Donald (I think he will go a lot higher then 21), I do find it funny that most say he wouldn't fit with them when Daniels does.

packeraaron's picture

To be fair, I have to admit I liked the McMillian pick at the time and even into his rookie year as well. The wheels came off something fierce though.

RC Packer Fan's picture

yeah, I liked him as well... I thought for sure he was going to take a big step going into year 2. That obviously never happened.

jimtalkbox's picture

Good article. If we can find a way to use Nick Perry a little more effectively, then we might have a big turnaround when it comes to pressuring the QB. (Matthews, Peppers, Daniels and ???)

PresidentRaygun's picture

and Datone Jones

COW's picture

tee hee hee.
you bein' silly.

jimtalkbox's picture

You're right. I forgot about Jones. I think he'll make a big jump this offseason. (crosses fingers)

Nick Perry's picture

Don't have to cross your fingers, Jones WILL make that jump. I've challenged Cow or anyone else that's been so damn critical of Jones to look at the stats of DL drafted in the same area of round one as Jones. Floyd was drafted 23 by Minnesota, Werner #24 by Indy, Jones #26 by Green Bay, and Williams #28 overall by Denver. Jones had more sacks than all of them, a few less tackles than some, but Jones was the only one I'm aware of that was playing with a injury. Excuses aside, Jones seems to have done about what all the others did drafted in mid to late 20's.

The Packers drafted Jones because they needed DL help. They were going back and forth between Jones and Williams and decided Jones had more upside and was a better fit. To call him a bust after one season is a absolute joke.

Obviously Cow has nothing better to do with his time than get a rise from Packers fans with his comments. He's clearly a GM, Player, Coach, Scout, and Trainer all rolled into one, just between NFL jobs.

About Daniels, I love him. I really questioned this pick because he was so short. Shows one more time Ted knows more than anyone posting on Cheesehead TV or any other Packers site. Daniels in turning into another 4th round STEAL by TT.

aManOfTheNorth's picture

For accuracy's sake, Stroh is the trainer.

Stroh's picture

But I actually like the Packers and think they have good players, Cow does not...

COW's picture

wrong - i like (love) the Packers.
but you're right - not overwhelmed by the talent. not sure what you guys are seeing. i see a slow, lost team completely dependent on 1 very good qb.

COW's picture

or you can just compare him to Boyd... who's much better than Jones.

but neither will ever be pass rushing threats.

Zoellner25's picture

Daniels has a good motor!

WangDaYe's picture

Love this post! I learned something and got excited for the upcoming season. Win-Win. Just the type of analysis to fill the off-season void. Thanks Robert

Stroh's picture

Daniels is a great role player that has earned more playing time in base packages, but his limitations will probably prevent him from being an every down type player for the Packers. He excelled in his role as an interior pass rusher, but the more he plays as a base 34 DE will likely mean he's less impactful in his best role pass rushing inside.

With the Packers improved depth on the DL and the addition of Peppers and Raji back in his natural position at NT, I think the Packers pass rush will be outstanding again.

Perry will get better simply by moving him to the Right side, whether OLB or Elephant end. Its been obvious that he is only comfortable rushing from the Right. It was obvious even from his college film he needed to be on the right.

Peppers and Matthews are good rushing from every where, so they should be moved around. Peppers at all the DL spots and some elephant and Matthews at all the LB spots

Best pass rush for the Packers is
Matthews LOLB
Daniels DT
Peppers DT
Perry ROLB/Elephant

Nick Perry's picture

That foursome lined up exactly like that will will be one on the best foursomes rushing the QB in the NFL. I know many still question Perry but I think in the 6 quarters he played lined up on the right side just before breaking his foot, (3 sacks 2 FF) showed how effective he can be from the right side. Who are you going to double?

L's picture

Mike Daniels' motor and size reminds me a bit of John Randle from back in the day; I use to watch him play against the Pack and think, "it'd be nice to have someone with his motor/relentlessness on our team." But, that was before the Pack really hit their stride in the mid 90s with Reggie White, Gilbert Brown, Santana Dotson, and Sean Jones. At the point we had those guys dominating the way they did I was pretty happy with the players we had and didn't really desire to have John Randle on our team. Still I respected the level of play that John Randle brought all the time - he certainly was a force that had to be accounted for and I sure hope that's going to be the case with Mike Daniels too.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

So if I extrapolate this cycle time on finding viable replacements for players then it takes 3 years.

At that rate we'll have the new Nick Collins ready to play for 2017. That is, if Thompson drafts the player to develop this season.

Aaron Rodgers will be 33. Julius Peppers will be 37.

I find Thompson's strategy at Safety to be seriously wanting.

Stroh's picture

Dude seriously... THey used a draft pick on McMillan, clearly they expected him to step up and assume the starting job next to Burnett. THey addressed it, and it turned out to be a mistake! Get over it... Its not like every 4th rd pick pans out. They made an effort and expected that he would assume the position. They even picked up Richardson (injury) and Jennings (ineffective) to try to cover for it.

I find you to seriously wanting for not realizing that the effort was made. Unfortunately the draft pick didn't turn out, Richardson was injured and Jennings sucked almost as bad.

Its not like they did NOTHING to address it. Shit happens!

COW's picture

a late 4th rounder and 2 undrafted guys... that was their "solution".

nice plan.

ray nichkee's picture

nice comment, you are a class act cow

Nick Perry's picture

I think Jeremy questions why one wasn't taken last year with all the quality safeties coming out. BUT, with the way the Packers draft turned out last year, it's hard to question TT for his picks from Jones through Hyde. He absolutely nailed it! I know we don't know about Tretter yet and some think Franklin is nothing more than a role player which is fair. I can't wait to see what Franklin does this year, I think some will be surprised.

RC Packer Fan's picture

Yeah, I completely agree. He nailed the draft last year.

I am really looking forward to see what Franklin does in year 2. Most know I am very high on him. I really think he will really take a step up in year 2.

Think how good the draft class will be if all these players take a big leap in year 2. Jones, Bakhtiari, Tretter, Franklin, Hyde. Imagine if Lacy takes a step up. This was a very good draft class...

BradHTX's picture

I agree with this point too. Yes, I would have preferred if the Packers had drafted a safety last year, but with the way things fell in rounds 1-2 you really can't argue. Beyond that, I guess they figured anyone that was available wasn't an upgrade over the potential they (wrongly, as it turns out) saw in McMillian/Jennings/Richardson.

And I would have liked to have seen a lower-tier FA safety brought in as well, but again, they must not have felt anyone available beyond the highly expensive top-tier guys was better than the potential they see in Hyde. I expect they will draft a safety this year, but if they don't find the value matching up with their picks, I'm willing to trust them on it because I recognize that Hyde is a player based on what we've seen so far.

That said, at this time next year if we are looking back on another season of horrible safety play torpedoing the Packers' season, it will definitely have an effect on my trust in TT and MM.

aManOfTheNorth's picture

Safetys are flunky corners....haven't some of you even played touch football? Where does the fat man play if he ain't gonna rush no more? SAFETY! Some of you want to use first round picks on safeties?????

I'll tell ya what makes a good safety...Peppers and Matthews and company

ray nichkee's picture

I have to tell you that you just made my day. Everybody thinks that drafting a safety in the first round will solve many problems. There are only a few plug and play safties in the history of the nfl (eric berry comes to mind). The second and third rounds are where you can get solid guys to develope. Get to the ball behind the line of scrimmage on a regular basis and the secondary has less time to be embarassed. Today you should call yourself THEE man of the north. I grant you permission even if you are wearing ladies underwear.

BradHTX's picture

You say "even if..." as though wearing ladies' underwear is a bad thing!

jeremyjjbrown's picture

How about an above replacement Free Agent Veteran Safety? If they end up scoring on a Safety in the draft then they could dump them before the regular season starts and lose nothing.

Right now the Packers have Burnett and Richardson as the starting safeties. Frankly, if I was a General Manager, I wouldn't want Burnett starting on my defense and I wouldn't want Richardson on my 53 at all.

4thand1's picture

Richardson will have to do something special to make the team. This is his last chance to prove he belongs in the NFL. Guys are gonna be pressed to make the final 53 this year. Competition every where is good. Look what it did for Crosby. Everyone wanted Crosby's head on a platter last year.

Stroh's picture

I think Richardson is likely to make the 53 roster. Even if he hasn't improved tremendously at Safety, he would be a great core ST player. Don't fin 220 lb athletes that run 4.5's. At the very least he would be on all the ST plays.

He is an inexperienced Safety in coverage, but w/ some experience and development he could be a great Safety.

Clay Zombo's picture

Big fan of Mike Daniels ever since he was drafted and Im also a big fan of Aaron Donald. If we can't have Donald(and we can't sitting at 21) then I really hope he doesn't end up in the NFC north because this guy has perennial pro bowler written all over him.

If he falls to 13(which I doubt) and the Rams don't want him then TT or another team needs to trade up with them and land this guy. Im almost certain the Bears will grab him at 14 and that's what I want to avoid. I could also see the Vikings or the Lions taking him before that though.

Otto's picture

I can't see TT paying that kind of price to move up, can you?

Stroh's picture

You can find a role for one player on the DL that is really a poor fit, but using another draft pick, especially a 1st rd pick on another player that really doesn't fit the D is simply not very smart. There is NO chance they would take another Daniels, which is what Donald is, and hope they can find a role for him too. It just makes NO sense.

Let a 43 D take him. It seems like you don't understand that players also have to fit the system. They've already fit one player that is a poor fit, it makes no sense to continue to do it! I don't care who takes him and where he goes. He might be a good player, but the Packers have a lot of them too. I could care less if he goes to MInn or Chi.

Otto's picture

I don't think we can throw the word "system" around anymore. There is one prototype 3-4 DE on this roster (Boyd) and he's the worst DLineman they have. There is nothing typical about what they're doing with this defense. Potentially, their two best guys are 6' 300lbs and 6'7" 287lbs.

I read a headline that an NFL personnel guy called Donald the best DLineman in 10 yrs. If that's the case, then take him. They didn't need a QB in '05. That pick worked out.

A front 4 of Matthews, Donald, Daniels and Peppers puts a smile on my face. (not that it matters, Donald will be long gone by 21... fun to talk about, though)

Stroh's picture

Boyd is not a typical 34 DL. He is close to a typical NT, but not DE. A "typical" 34 DE is tall and long. In the 6'4 to 66' range height and in the 290 - 310 range weight. Think Aaron Smith DE Pitt 6'5 295, Brett Keisel Pitt, 6'5 285 or Richard Seymour 6'6 310.

Datone is 34 DE, Julius Peppers could be, but shouldn't be a 34 DE. Boyd is 6'3 310, add 10-15 lbs and he's a perfect NT.

Daniels is about as far from a prototypical 34 DE as you could possibly find. The last thing they need is to force fit another 6' 280 lb 43 DL into the scheme.

Jordan's picture

Lol. That's true what you're saying. Every interview that Capers gave since 2009, he talked about needing length at DE. So what does TT do, he drafts DE that have no length.

There's obviously been some internal problems with the Packers organization with decisions since 2010. Whether it be at RB, DE, or safety. Thompson has had to draft 3 running backs......a 2nd, 3rd, and a 4th.

Last year at this time, TT was interviewed by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal and said he really liked the safety group and the packers were fine at safety. The guy from the journal sentinel pressed him on the safety issue because he disagreed. TT held firm that they were fine at safety.

Mistakes have been made.

DrealynWilliams's picture

I knew Daniels would be our best DL because in my Madden franchise (wait,don't laugh) he's pretty much unstoppable on passing downs.

I don't want to jinx anything,but --

Never mind...

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