If this offseason is any indication, third-year defensive lineman Mike Daniels is intent on filling the gigantic leadership void on the Green Bay Packers defense.
We noticed it last night, although there have been indications since the end of last season. We saw a link to some article where Daniels was apparently blathering on about how awesome Julius Peppers is, what he brings to the team and so forth. And then we realized, Mike Daniels has an opinion on everything.
He’s certainly been the most outspoken member of the Packers defense, if not the entire team, this offseason. Not too long ago, he was the guy saying he was tired of the Packers defense getting pushed around. That they needed to get tougher. Calling out his boys.
When the hell is the last time that’s happened? In fact, when is the last time any Packers defender has said anything worth remembering?
I’ll tell you. When Charles Woodson was in town.
But Charles and his leadership qualities were too old, so he had to go. Quality move, Big Ted.
Clay Matthews was supposed to fill that role when the Packers gave him a gigantic contract. He paid some lip service to that fact, but let’s be honest. Clay Matthews is not a vocal, heart-and-soul kind of guy. He’s a playmaker. He goes hard. He’s got nice hair. A guy you’d love to play with. Not necessarily a guy you’d sell your soul to fight for.
Johnny Jolly filled that role as much as he could last year. Most of us probably remember the halftime speech at Dallas or, prior to the season, how everyone kept pointing out how Jolly brought a certain excitement to the team.
Even though the Packers won’t say it, they’ve moved on from Jolly much like they did with Woodson — in a very calculated way. Don’t need his leadership. And forget that he was one of the only bright spots on the defensive line last year. Just have no use for guys like that!
However, unlike when they moved on from Woodson, it looks like there’s actually someone in house ready to fill the void. Whether the Packers agree or not is unimportant. Mike Daniels obviously thinks he’s the guy.
And why the hell shouldn’t he be?
Daniels had a breakout season in 2013, registering 6.5 sacks and staking a clear claim to being the team’s best defensive lineman, despite not even being a starter.
There’s nothing stopping Daniels from becoming a starter this season and improving upon his numbers. He’s already expanded his role from an accountability standpoint.
If you’re waiting around for Matthews or, say, A.J. Hawk to turn into leaders of men then, well, we hope you’ve got a nice thick book to read. You’re gonna have some time to kill.
If one guy is going to lead the Packers defense into battle this season and actually have guys following behind him, our bet is that guy is Mike Daniels.