Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Mike Daniels went on a rant following minicamp practice on Tuesday, answering reporters' questions by saying the team's defense needs to get tougher and meaner.
After watching the Packers finish 25th in overall defense last season, Daniels certainly has a point. There were no shortage of instances when the Packers got burned both on the ground and through the air duirng the 2013 season.
A stouter effort against the run and a more relentless pass rush would help solve a lot of the Packers' many defensive woes.
But some of Daniels' comments on Tuesday were troubling if taken at face value.
"I think that's been our biggest problem on defense, so I'm personally going to take that, make that my job to get the best out of everybody," said Daniels. "I don't care if I have to hit somebody before we go out on the field."
Why is Daniels threatening violence before the Packers take the field?
By all means, if Daniels wants to be a leader by example on the gridiron and be the hardest hitter on the team, show everyone how it's done, feel free. This Packers team sorely needs more of that.
But as far as hitting a teammate before they go on the field, there's no place for that in the game of football or society in general.
If it was a solitary comment that Daniels made, one might argue that he's being taken out of context. The defensive lineman, however, followed up by making another unfortunate comment.
Speaking of his leadership, Daniels said, "I'm very comfortable. If something needs to be said, I'm going to say it, and if someone has a problem with it, we're grown men. We play a violent game. We get paid to be violent, so why not? If you deck somebody in the locker room, because you have a disagreement, there's not going to be any sensitivity training. There's not going to be any… It's a barbaric sport, so that's how you're going to have to approach it. I'm tired of getting our face punched in by other teams. I'm not used to that."
Again, there's nothing wrong with Daniels' sentiment of wanting to be a vocal leader and not wanting to be "punched in the face" by another team, obviously a figurative statement in a sport that enforces the use of facemasks.
But why is Daniels discussing "decking somebody in the locker room"?
Cold cocking someone is not the answer. Unprovoked aggression is never the answer. Vioence only begets more violence.
To be fair, Daniels has never acted upon such words, or if he has, it's gone unreported.
If the lack of "meanness" or "nastiness" is really and truly a problem in Green Bay, this is less a problem that needs solving by Daniels and more of an issue to be addressed by the coaching staff and front office.
The coaching staff needs to let Daniels know that it's not okay to take matters into his own hands outside the lines.
But the coaches also have to look in the mirror and address it themselves. They need to demand a physical brand of football. And their actions must match their words.
If a player is not giving an effort, he should be replaced, benched, or more drastic actions need to take place.
If the Packers are keeping players on their roster that don't have the aggressiveness or mentality to play a brutal game, then they shouldn't be drafted or signed to begin with. Or they should be cut, released, or traded, whatever method works for parting ways with them.
This is the answer to the problem, if there indeed is a problem.
Daniels is young, fiery, and committed to his profession. His passion is unquestioned. As the team leader in sacks among defensive linemen last season, his contributions are important to team success.
But tone down the rhetoric of off-field violence, Mike.
The Packers don't need another Charles Martin bodyslamming a Bears quarterback after the whistle. They need someone to sack Jay Cutler between the whistles.
Daniels has the ability to provide that.
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Packers defensive lineman Mike Daniels sacks Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder by Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.
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