On The Defense: Daniels, Jones Helping Fuel Ferocity

Angry, pissed off, upset; however you want to label it, it's exactly how Mike Daniels wants the Packers' defense to play in 2017.

Coming off an embarrassing defeat to the Falcons in January's NFC title game, the Packers capped off one of their worst pass defensive years since 2011. They finished 31st in pass defense, which tells you just about all you need to know. Albeit, a variety of players were shuffling in weekly in order to fill the voids left by the predecessor to that position—someone who was probably nursing their battle wounds elsewhere. 

Daniels didn't like any of it. In the heat of their four-game losing streak last November, Daniels called out the Packers' defense, saying that they needed to play "angry" and "violent." 

"I'm not going to sit here and lie to you we should have played much better and done a lot of things better and we didn't," Daniels said after a loss to the Colts in a piece written by ESPN's Rob Demovsky. "We didn't. We're all held accountable. I hold myself accountable. I didn't get home, and that goes for everybody. The matchups were there. You could see it on paper. We didn't take advantage of it. Quite frankly, it's embarrassing. We've got to be better. If it doesn't piss you off, then that's an issue. I think we have a lot of people who are pretty angry."

Of course, the rest of the season is history.

Since that game, the impression of the Packers' defense has remained the same old song and dance. Consequently, until the season starts and changes are able to take form and skepticism is able to be silenced, Daniels is going to continue playing with the same burning fuse.

"We have to take it personally. You have to get pissed off that people are saying, 'You guys suck on defense' every year,'" Daniels said earlier in the week. "People say, 'Oh, it's the defense's fault. Oh, the defense is terrible. Oh, man, we need to get Aaron [Rodgers] a defense.' That'll make you angry to the point where you're like, 'I'm going to shut these people up.'"

It's a new year. Daniels is ready to help elevate the Packers' defense and bring them to an unprecedented level of brutality. Left tackle David Bakhtiari is doing his part as well by bringing a WWE-themed championship belt to Saturday morning's practice. He may have walked away with it after practice much like he arrived, but if anyone knows Daniels, he may have something to say about that in the next padded practice.

The competitive levels are rising in the team's practices, and while Daniels and Bakhtiari are primary enforcers on both sides of the ball for that, the Packers' second-round pick Josh Jones is also doing his part.

Jones has been seeing work at both inside linebacker and safety through the team's three practices, running with both the first team and second team defenses. He shows up angry, he plays angry, he leaves angry, and Daniels is impressed.

Jones during Packers OTAs. (Jim Matthews/USA TODAY NETWORK)

"He's exactly what we thought he was," Daniels said after Saturday's practice. "He comes in, he's quiet and he shows up with a bad attitude. That's what you need on the defensive side of the ball."

The rookie safety is expected to play a variety of roles in the Packers' suddenly versatile defense, including packages that have him playing in the slot much like Micah Hyde used to do, as well as in the box as an extra, more athletic linebacker. He'll get traditional safety looks, too, as he did on Saturday.

Getting these different looks is why he was able to function well in space during Saturday's practice, and it's also why he was able to lay a huge hit on rookie wide receiver Malachi Dupre. It caught the eyes of many, including Aaron Nagler of Packers News. When asking Jones about it, Jones responded saying it was bad practicing on his end. 

As far as Daniels is concerned, the kind of unbridled tenacity from a rookie such as Jones is just what the Packers' defense needs.

"If people are noticing that he's playing with a mean streak, that's definitely a good thing. I saw it a while back and just his demeanor alone screams out that he's here for business and that's always welcome, especially from young guys.

"It's good to have guys coming in with that 'hit you in the mouth' type of mentality. We just have to keep building on it.' Today was a very good practice: nobody backed from anybody. Everybody went hard but nobody complained about it... Just good, hard, consistent competition. If we keep doing that, we're going to like our results on game day."

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Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (34)

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Tundraboy's picture

July 29, 2017 at 08:28 pm

Music to my ears. Bring it on.

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The TKstinator's picture

July 29, 2017 at 10:34 pm

Stuff the run.
Rush the passer.
Sack the passer.
Blanket the receivers.
Create turnovers.

If those things happen, I don't care if the defense is nasty or a bunch of sweethearts.

Just get it done.

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Bearmeat's picture

July 30, 2017 at 07:50 pm

With respect Zach, we read this kind of stuff every offseason around here. Daniels way to play defense is "nasty," but it's not the only way to play great. For proof: Do you know who's way wasn't like that? Reggie White. Bruce Smith. Troy Polamolu - just to name a few of many. Good players win games. Not attitude.

Look, the problem with our defense is one of two things:

1. A lack of talent
2. A coaching staff that isn't properly honing that talent.

I personally think that Capers bares some responsibility for insisting on playing a variety of complex schemes when his team is annually one of the youngest in the league at a time when the league features more young players than it has in its history.

However - the real stone being thrown here is at TT. The ONLY draft hit he's truly had on defense since 2011 is Mike Daniels. That's the ONLY home run. And that's not enough. Especially when he has refused time and again to augment his draft failures with free agency and trades.

I understand that picking in the upper 20s every round makes it difficult, and that the only team in the salary cap era to exceed (or even match) Green Bay's extended success is New England.

That's no excuse. TT should have long ago taken a few pages from Belichick's book on how to run a long-term successful team with an all-star QB. First, draft well as much as possible (done on O, not on D in TT's case). Second, when the draft fails, make a free agency splash. (HA!) Third, don't be afraid to move on from disgruntled players or bring in new faces via trade. (HA!).

It should be clear that I'm tired of the same old tropes, Zach. And that's not your fault. IMO your article itself is very well written. But you are a Packer fan, and you wanted an angle to write on which provides hope for the defense, so Daniels is your poster boy today. It just so happens that Mike Daniels by himself isn't enough.

No. The issue is TT. It's the team's piss poor defense for the last EFFEN SEVEN YEARS that has me seeing red.

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ZacharyJacobson's picture

July 29, 2017 at 09:37 pm

This was a good comment with very, very good points made. Thing is, Smith, White, Polamalu, they all played in different eras. Eras in which there weren't as many "bad" players as there are today. Of course, there was still a good handful, but there's meaner, nastier guys lining up on defensive lines in today's NFL. I think Daniels can only do so much, and if "so much" means continuing to play at a high level and trying to psyche up his teammates, I'm all for it. Like you said, Daniels alone isn't enough to turn this defense around, and while partial blame can be placed on Ted Thompson (emphasis on 'partial'), players need to do their jobs as well.
The two-point conversion fail against Seattle in the NFCCG, the Burnett slide, the handful of over things that went wrong in that game in which the outcome could've been completely altered had it been for a few minor quirks done differently. The blown coverage in OT against Arizona in the Wild Card game. The list goes on and on and on, unfortunately. It comes down to being in a certain focused mentality, and Daniels being the way he is may just be doing his part to force these players into that mentality. Each respective job being done to the best of each respective player's ability will equal success, I can promise you that.

In my defense, I'm fairly realistic. I'll write about the bad, I'll write about the good. Sometimes, I need to just instill hope in both myself and my readers with articles like this. If Daniels is confident and firing everyone up, I can get on board with that. Besides, I have no reason to be very pessimistic about the season yet.

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marpag1's picture

July 30, 2017 at 12:19 am

"Thing is, Smith, White, Polamalu, they all played in different eras. Eras in which there weren't as many "bad" players as there are today. Of course, there was still a good handful, but there's meaner, nastier guys lining up on defensive lines in today's NFL."

This statement makes me wonder when you started watching football... and not only because you refer to Polamalu, who retired less than three years ago, as playing in a "different era."

Defensive linemen today (or front seven players generally) are not even remotely feared like they were in the past. Not by a mile. One big reason for this is that today's NFL does not allow them to be mean without being penalized. Yeah, so Suh steps on someone in the pile or kicks a dude in the nuts. That's child's play. Deacon Jones gave damn near every player he ever faced a concussion, because back then it was perfectly legal to punch the O-lineman in the head. Offensive linemen sharpened the buckles on their chin straps to try and discourage him, but he still did it anyway. Joe Greene wasn't called Mean Joe Greene because he was such a swell guy. John Matuszak, Howie Long and Lyle Alzado gave the Raiders their thug image. Alzado was an amateur boxer who once fought an exhibition match vs. Muhammad Ali. Alan Page was a monster. So were Carl Eller and John Randle. Jared Allen admitted to aiming for the QB's knees. What linebacker today is feared like Lawrence Taylor, Ray Nitschke, Dick Butkus, Jack Ham, or Ray Lewis? Jack Youngblood played the '79 NFC championship game on a broken leg. Jack Lambert played his football without the burden of carrying teeth in his mouth. Chuck Bednarik obliterated people, like when he knocked Frank Gifford out of football for a year and a half. Anybody remember what a dirtball prick Bill Romanowski was? In order to prevent D-linemen from batting down balls, Conrad Dobler batted down the D-linemen's balls. Safety Chuck Cecil's body of work is well known in Packerland. Safety Jack Tatum was known as "The Assassin," and wrote a book about it. He's best known for putting Daryl Stingley in a wheelchair. I could go on for an awfully long time, but with the possible exception of Suh and probably Burfict, I'm not sure ANYONE in the league today plays with the same meanness and the outright intent to cause bodily harm as these guys did.

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holmesmd's picture

July 31, 2017 at 08:51 am

Absolutely agree Marpag! I was dumbfounded when I read Bearmeat's premise. The players and the entire game were way more brutal in the past because the rules allowed them to and there was no regard for player safety,CTE, or anything else.

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marcopo's picture

July 30, 2017 at 04:39 am

An excellent analysis and reply by Zack. However, blame is difficult here. To say that Daniels is the only "home run" is problematic. As Zack points out there are always the real life of a play here, a play there and boom, another failure to make it to the Superbowl. Anyone who thinks it's easy to get there, even with a great quarterback is delusional.
That said there has been a disconnect on the defense. Mainly, Caper's defenses do require experienced, savvy players. and Thompson should either cater to that reality, or go a different direction. We've seen the defense flash, but never quite get there. Last year was a perfect storm of disaster in the secondary. Watching Gunter covering Julio was painful. Did anyone think it wouldn't matter? Nevertheless, this team got to the championship game.
But all this was yesterday. I'm totally impressed with the offseason. The tools are there. Moving to a more "hybrid" defense is the way to go, especially in view of not-so-special inside backers. We've seriously made the defense faster and plugged up the middle. Wait and see. Everything that could be done at cornerback was done. Bring back a vet, drafting King, healthier Randall and Demetrius, Jones. Oh yeah, I'm excited about this group.
If, Daniels promotes a tougher attitude, I'm all for it. It's a violent game and "attitude" does matter. A lot.

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Bearmeat's picture

July 30, 2017 at 07:54 am

Fair. We disagree, but you are being fair. Personally, I look at the entire tenure of TT, MM and DC, and see 2010 as the exception. It IS the exception.

We don't need a top 5 defense. But a top 10 D would make us a super bowl favorite. And we say this EVERY year. The D has been an Achilles heel for too long under this regime for me to think it's going to change without new leadership.

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HankScorpio's picture

July 30, 2017 at 08:25 am

I think the defense was good enough in 2014-2015, too. Both years, they had a "top half" defense (15th in yards both years, 12th & 13th in points). 2014 was derailed by the epic Seattle collapse and 2015 by the epidemic of WR injuries.

I do certainly agree that the defense has been an ongoing concern under TT/MM. Heading into this camp, that continues to hold. I'm not at all concerned about the offense and have more than one concern about the defense. But I don't think there is any one nice, neat scapegoat. TT needs to give Capers better players but Capers needs to use what he's given better, as well.

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The TKstinator's picture

July 30, 2017 at 10:38 am

It is good to see that there can be disagreement here without the BS name calling and insults that have plagued this site in the past. Well done.

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Bearmeat's picture

July 30, 2017 at 07:57 pm

It is nice, isn't it? The poo-flinging fests really wear me out too. I find myself coming here less when certain screen names are prevalent. :(

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The TKstinator's picture

August 01, 2017 at 08:03 pm

Yes! Let's leave the flinging of feces to the primates.

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LayingTheLawe's picture

July 30, 2017 at 02:01 pm

I also am not a huge Capers fan and wonder where else a defense can be the weak link for years and the defensive coach is still the same.

But otherwise we need to stop hearing about comparing to the freaking New England Patriots. Because then your argument breaks down to being that the Packers have only been the 2nd most consistently good team in the NFL over the last 10 years or so and that's not good enough for you. Make criticisms of what needs to be done but to compare with the one and only team of the past decade to have more sustained success than the Packers and the team that will go as a contender for best ever run in NFL history, just cheapens the criticism.

You do know that many teams that have not sniffed the playoffs over the last decade wonder why their team can not be more like the Green Bay Packers? Is there work to be done and improvements to make? For sure. But stop pretending this team is on par with the Cleveland Browns.

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Bearmeat's picture

July 30, 2017 at 07:58 pm

Dude.

2 top 10 QBs EVER. Like in the history of the NFL. Over 30 years almost at this point. And 2 titles to show for it.

Now, I don't want to go back to the 70's-80's either, and I definitely do appreciate being able to look forward to the NFL season every summer as a Packers fan.

But 2 titles with QBing that most teams would KILL for?

That's not enough, and I won't lie and say it is.

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marpag1's picture

July 30, 2017 at 10:09 pm

I get the frustration, Bearmeat. Really, I do. But there are a few things in your argument that probably aren't fair. Like...

If you want to blame Ted Thompson, fine. But you can't use the "30 years of two consecutive HOFers" argument. You can only use those years in which TT was actually the GM.

If you're going to slam TT, will you do the same for Ron Wolf?

How do we explain that even the vaunted juggernaut of New England somehow "wasted" ten straight years of Brady's career (2005-2015) with no Superbowls? Did BB and Brady suck during that decade?

TT and Rodgers are only going on seven years without a SB. NE went 10. Is it still possible maybe that GB might win one or two more, just like NE did?

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Bearmeat's picture

July 30, 2017 at 11:17 pm

That's a fair point.

Let me explain my POV a little bit:

I think BLF, Sherman and Holmgren (in that order) blew it for Green Bay's title hopes from 98-05. (For Favre, really 07).

Sherman for being a straight up terrible GM.

Holmgren for letting blind ambition lead him to leave Green Bay for a Parcells-type GM/HC combo that he couldn't ever manage in Seattle. Oh, and for terrible game management in the 97 super bowl.

Favre for being a straight up choker. Yep. I said it. Dude blew 4 post seasons for us (00, 02, 04, 07 if I remember correctly off the top of my head).

I think Ron Wolf was a better all around GM than Ted Thompson. I think Ted has been an absolute savant on the offensive side of the ball in the draft. The difference between the two is that Ron could admit a mistake. Ted is so wrapped up in the draft and develop mantra that he has left gaping holes in the roster each of the last 7 years.

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packfan44's picture

July 31, 2017 at 08:29 am

BM, you made your point now SHUT UP.

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Bearmeat's picture

July 31, 2017 at 11:00 am

Um.... NO.

smh......

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Since'61's picture

July 30, 2017 at 09:57 am

For the last 3-4 seasons Daniels has spoken during training camp that the Packers defense needs to get angry and nastier. It has yet to happen. In fact while Daniels is a good player he is not a great player. He has yet to take over or change a game the way a Reggie White or a Ray Nitschke or a Willie Davis could wreck an opponents offense during a game. He talks big but sometimes plays small. The problem with the Packers defense has been their lack of consistency, especially late in games and in playoff games. I believe that attitude, preferably a nasty, take no prisoners attitude, is a factor in defensive football. But before attitude defensive players need some level of talent. We have not seen much talent on the defensive side of the ball since 2010. CM3 talented but oft injured, Dix's talent still evolving, Shields could play but he's done now, Daniels good not great, and Burnett has probably peaked. After these players the talent level has been average at best and often mediocre. Will King, Jones, Clark, T. Davis and Beigel eventually bring more talent and a nasty attitude? We'll see. Jones seems to be starting well. Will it carry over into the season and to other players? Time will tell. But Bearmeat is correct. We have heard and read all the TC talk since 2010 and since then the defense has fallen short every season. Whether Daniels likes it or not, it's a fact. My colleagues and customers overseas refer to the term NATO, "No Action, Talk Only". Regrettably that defines Daniels and the Packers defense pretty well. It's up to the players to change how their perceived. The current reality is, who does an opposing OC fear or have concerns about on the Packers defense? As of today, no one. Thanks, Since '61

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LayingTheLawe's picture

July 30, 2017 at 02:20 pm

So you can only talk and be the vocal leader of the team if you're a pro bowl player? The Packers defense didn't have a vocal leader and I think it is good they have one now. Every team needs someone in practice who keeps the energy high and makes people push themselves and not just coast through it. Someone who isn't one of the coaches. It will not always be the best player on the team. Daniels is an entrenched veteran and I like that he has fire and talks. It is hardly his fault if no one fears the Packers D - he is trying his best to fire everyone up to play and work hard.

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Since'61's picture

July 30, 2017 at 03:28 pm

I have no problem with Daniels trying to fire up his team mates. But in sports, for the most part, you lead by example on the field. Daniels has been a solid player for the Packers and he is one of their best defensive players but as I tried to say in my post, perhaps not clearly enough, is that the players, fired up or not, need to have some talent if fired up is going to mean anything. As of today the Packers defense just does not have a player who can take over a game. Maybe someone on the defensive roster will emerge and become that player, which would be great. Daniels talks that's fine, he makes a few plays, but he is not a game wrecker. In fact there have been times during a game when he has been pushed around quite a bit by the opposing OL. I would take leader who consistently makes plays, especially at a critical point in a game or during the playoffs, over a vocal leader any day. Unless it can be backed up, regardless of how, talk is cheap, especially during the first week of TC. Thanks, Since '61

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LayingTheLawe's picture

July 30, 2017 at 03:37 pm

It is no big secret that the Packers defense has been the weak link. The post made it sound like it was Daniels fault is all. It made it sound like he had to shut up unless he played better. The saying is indeed talk is cheap but if no one talks then maybe talk has some value to a team. I just don't think you have to be a future hall of famer to be the one who talks and brings excitement to the team.

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holmesmd's picture

July 31, 2017 at 09:06 am

Sorry 61' but I think you are selling Daniels short? Did you see the piece on Packers.com that analyzed Daniel's secondary sats? I think he was in the backfield more than any defensive lineman in the entire league! It's not his fault that he is only in on 3rd down like %16 of the time?! He's also very good against the run! Pennel was another big mean & nasty dude but sadly he was a knuckle head and couldn't keep his nose clean. Anyway Daniels is a premiere DL and is regarded as such by opponents and fans of other teams. His intensity is more than welcome

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packfan44's picture

July 31, 2017 at 08:35 am

CM111, did you hear this?

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marcopo's picture

July 30, 2017 at 11:41 am

Gotta ask Bearmeat a question. OK, you think Packer management and coaching has held the team back. How many other teams have made the playoffs eight straight years? Yes, only the Patriots. Every year we see massive coaching and GM changes. All those teams want the Superbowl. How many of the changes have been at least semi-successful? There are a couple, three teams on the rise. My point is that there is only one Belichek. Ain't any magic out there. Our only legitimate knock is only one Superbowl. The staid, unexciting conservative has served pretty well.

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Bearmeat's picture

July 30, 2017 at 11:17 pm

Great question. Of course there's only one Bill Belichick.

But rather than argue over how MM is not him, let me answer your question with another question, and let's assume that we agree that having an elite QB is worth anywhere between 6-8 wins all by itself annually:

Do you think that a team who has that kind of advantage every Sunday for 25 years now, and yet has only sealed the deal twice, has underachieved?

Cause I sure as heck do.

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packfan44's picture

July 31, 2017 at 08:37 am

Did you miss my last response, Shut Up!

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Bearmeat's picture

July 31, 2017 at 12:51 pm

(Sarcasm button on)

What a constructive, eloquent, highly varied, and pleasant repertoire of comments you've brought to the table in the past few days PF44! Thanks so much!

(Sarcasm button off)

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marpag1's picture

July 31, 2017 at 02:35 pm

LOL. Internet tough guys always make me giggle.

"Pack Fan Forty Four," when abbreviated, is "Pfff..."

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Bearmeat's picture

July 31, 2017 at 03:02 pm

LOL!

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Savage57's picture

July 31, 2017 at 08:12 am

The difference between Daniels and Jones?

Daniels displays his ferocity by running his mouth.

Jones, by hitting people. Hard.

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holmesmd's picture

July 31, 2017 at 09:13 am

Daniels was a college wrestler as was Kenny Clark. If you don't think these monsters strike people violently you are mistaken. Combat is different in the trenches than it is in space. Jones can take a 10 yd approach at 4.4 speed and deliver his 220 lbs as a missile! 300 lb DL are in violent fist fights on every single play, often fighting TWO guys in Daniel's case. I would fight Josh Jones over Daniels 10 times out of 10. Just sayin...

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Savage57's picture

August 01, 2017 at 07:16 am

Well, since you point out he was a wrestler, like that's something to be proud of, it explains why you think this mouth-running toy tiger impresses you and you get all moist thinking about him.

Tough guys don't spend their time running around telling everyone with a set of ears how bad they are.

Mike Daniels is looking forward to some quality alone-time with you.

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Savage57's picture

August 01, 2017 at 07:16 am

Well, since you point out he was a wrestler, like that's something to be proud of, it explains why you think this mouth-running toy tiger impresses you and you get all moist thinking about him.

Tough guys don't spend their time running around telling everyone with a set of ears how bad they are.

Mike Daniels is looking forward to some quality alone-time with you.

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