Thursday, November 12, 2015

Mike Daniels and The Interior Defensive Lineman Have To Start Bringing the Pass Rush Back

This season, when I'm watching the Green Bay Packers defense, I often focus on DE Mike Daniels at the snap. Whether he beats his blocker(s) is a strong indicator whether the defense is going to make a play or not, and over the last couple weeks, I've noticed that he's usually not winning the one-on-one battle against his blocker. I'm not blaming him for the entire defense's struggles over the past three games but the interior pass rush has been part of the problem.
At the link above, NT B.J. Raji tries his best to explain what's gone wrong. He mentions the defensive mentality and playing with his instincts. Maybe he's trying to say that the defense wasn't playing their game and they've let the offense dictate the approach.

It's not been a case of playing against superior opponents either. On the offensive line, the Panthers are pretty good on the interior of their offensive line, led by C Ryan Kalil. On the other hand, the Broncos don't have a very good line (LG Evan Mathis and RG Louis Vasquez are good in run blocking and pass protection, respectively, but neither one is great at both) and the Chargers' offensive line is a borderline disaster.

Maybe it's just a matter of pushing through their mid-season exhaustion and minor injuries. The defense was on the field a ton against the Chargers (Daniels recorded 73 snaps out of 94 played). They did have the bye week right after that game and before they played the Broncos, but it might not have been enough of a break. Having their last two games on the road hasn't helped either.

A lot things have gone wrong for the defense over their last three games but benching ILB Nate Palmer and reviving the inside pass rush might fix the problem. When you watch the Packers host the Lions, keep an eye on Daniels (and DE Datone Jones, when he rotates in on the defensive line) and see if they can get in the face of QB Matthew Stafford as he's trying to throw.

No comments: