Interior pass rushers have never been more important than in today’s NFL. With teams moving to quick passes to neutralize edge rush specialists, being able to push the pocket from the middle is now at a premium. There are few in the NFL as dominant in the middle as Mike Daniels for the Green Bay Packers. Daniels has gone from little known fan favorite to household name since becoming a full time starter. Few players in the entire league have his combination of brute strength and quickness from the defensive tackle position. Daniels does an excellent job using his hands to assault guards and centers that try and impede him. His full arsenal of pass rushing prowess was on display on Sunday against Seattle.
Daniels wreaked havoc all afternoon, living in the Seahawk backfield. He finished with 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss on the day, including a forced fumble that led to a Packer’s touchdown.. He did all this against one of the game’s most elusive quarterbacks in Russell Wilson. Known for his ability to evade the rush, Wilson had nowhere to go against Daniels and company. The pocket routinely collapsed around him, leaving him forced to launch errant throws and take sacks. While it was the entire Packers defense that stifled Wilson, Daniels led the charge with his pocket collapsing moves.
While Daniels was incredibly impressive, it is worth noting that the Seahawks offensive line is one of the weakest in the NFL. There are rusty turnstiles in New York city that would offer more resistance than the guards for Seattle. Even with that said, Daniels showcased what has made him of the best interior linemen in all of football. If he can keep up this kind of pocket pushing performance, the Packers defense could be one of the most formidable in all of football. Daniels has the versatility to operate as a one-technique (over the center) or a three-technique (over the guard) which allows the Packers to vary their looks defensively. His adaptability allows defensive coordinator Dom Capers to mix and match situational pass rushing personnel without sacrificing the interior and leaving them susceptible to gashing runs. The glaring weakness for the defense is the secondary, but the best way to hide that flaw is to get after the quarterback. Daniels and company on the defensive line will be the straw that stir the drink for that unit all season long.