Green Bay Packers defensive end Mike Daniels celebrates during a game against the Washington Redskins last season.UPI photo | License Photo
DE PERE, Wis. -- Mike Daniels arrived in Green Bay as an unheralded fourth round draft pick in 2012. In the time since, Daniels has become arguably Green Bay's best defensive player and inked a four-year, $41 million deal in December, 2015.
While Daniels has been stellar, Green Bay's defense has certainly struggled.
The Packers' average defensive rank between 2011 and 2016 has been 20th. And while the Packers have reached the postseason each of those years, it's allowed an average of 33.8 points per game in their playoff losses.
Last season, the Packers ran off eight straight wins and reached the NFC Championship Game. But Green Bay's last impression was a horrific one as it was blown out by Atlanta, 44-21.
"That's a terrible impression. It makes me sick," Daniels said. "I take it personal every single day. I know I do. It's been six years now. Something's got to shake. We've got to step up and take pride in this thing."
Year in and year out, Green Bay's offense has been one of the NFL's strongest. And Daniels knows all fingers are quickly pointed at the defense when Green Bay falls short in the postseason.
"We have to take it personal. You have to get pissed off that people are saying, 'You guys suck on defense' every year," Daniels said. "People are like, 'Oh it's the defense's fault. Oh, the defense is terrible. Oh man, we need to get Aaron (Rodgers) a defense.' That's got to make you angry to the point where you're like, 'I'm going to shut these people up.'"
Daniels believes Green Bay's defense will be much improved in 2017.
The Packers' secondary was decimated by injury a year ago, but is healthy now. Green Bay also made some key additions to the group, most notably free-agent cornerback Davon House and rookie Kevin King.
Youngsters like Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry on the defensive line, and linebacker Kyler Fackrell could be poised for breakout years. Daniels is hopeful his unit can make strides, because he knows a Super Bowl title is virtually impossible without a high-level defense.
"You name me a Super Bowl champion that had a pacifistic defense and I'll give you my paycheck," Daniels said. "I'm serious. There aren't any.
"Every last Super Bowl winning team had a defense that was filled with renegades that weren't afraid to hold each other accountable. And if you can't do that, if you can't hold each other accountable because you're afraid of hurting somebody else's feelings, well guess what, you'll never be great."