Pro Football Focus uses a complex system to analyze every NFL player involved in every snap in every game and assigns a grade based on how he performed on that play, with each position having its own set of grading guidelines. Plus/minus scores are given in 0.5 increments and a small normalization factor is applied to make 0.0 the average grade for a game or season. To learn more, visit www.profootballfocus.com.
Packers defensive end Mike Daniels is in his contract year, and playing at a level that could earn him a rich new deal either from Green Bay or in free agency. Through five games, Daniels has 26 tackles (17 solo), 2½ sacks and six quarterback hits.
Here’s a look at Daniels’ six top-rated games with the Packers (the best two of which are from this season), in chronological order:
2013 Week 10: Eagles 27, Packers 13
+3.2 Overall, +2.9 Pass Rush
1 sack, 2 hits, 1 QB hurry
Despite the loss, Daniels made life miserable for Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. With the Eagles in a 2-minute drill to end the half, Daniels generated three pressures in the span of four plays. He teamed with cornerback Tramon Williams early in the fourth quarter for a sack that resulted in a fumble, which Williams recovered.
2014 Week 2: Packers 31,
+4.5 Overall, +2.3 Pass Rush, +3.0 Run Defense
1 sack, 1 hit, 2 QB hurries, 5 defensive stops.
Jets left guard Brian Winters had a woeful -6.2 grade, mostly the result of a thorough thrashing by Daniels. When Daniels wasn’t tallying tackles for loss and no gain, he was destroying blocks at the point of attack that allowed other defenders to get in on the action. Jets running backs Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson were held to a combined 2.6 yards per attempt. Only a penalty for illegal hands to the face marred Daniels’ day and reduced his overall score.
2014 Week 13: Packers 26, Patriots 21
+3.9 Overall, +4.7 Pass Rush
1 sack, 3 hits, 2 QB hurries, 2 defensive stops
Daniels had a rather pedestrian first two quarters and was flagged for a neutral zone infraction (which lowered his overall score). He came out of the halftime locker room on fire, drawing a holding penalty on the Patriots’ first play, hitting quarterback Tom Brady as he threw on the next, and two plays later slipping a double-team block to hurry Brady into an incomplete third-down pass. Daniels added another hit and a hurry during the third quarter before teaming with Mike Neal on a crucial third-down sack in the waning minutes.
2014 NFC divisional playoff: Packers 26, Cowboys 21
+3.8 Overall, +3.5 Run Defense
1 sack, 1 QB hurry, 2 defensive stops
Two tackles for short gains and his fourth-quarter sack are what you see in the box score, but most of Daniels' impact came outside the stat sheet. The Cowboys simply couldn’t get anything going running toward the left side of the line (2.4 yards per carry), as Daniels consistently stood up blockers at the point of attack or squeezed the hole.
2015 Week 3: Packers 38, Chiefs 28
+5.9 Overall, +4.4 Pass Rush, +1.3 Run Defense
2 sacks, 4 QB hurries, 2 defensive stops
The highest overall PFF production grade of Daniels’ career, and most of that at the expense of Chiefs second-year guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. Daniels set the tone on the Packers’ first defensive snap, tossing Duvernay-Tardif to the ground and when he got up, driving him around the field a bit after the whistle. That play didn’t earn him a positive grade, but overpowering the Chiefs’ line for six total pressures, including a strip sack, sure did. Daniels didn’t have a single downgraded play for the game.
2015 Week 4: Packers 24, Rams 10
+5.5 Overall, +1.8 Pass Rush, +3.5 Run Defense
2 hits, 1 QB hurry, 5 defensive stops
While Daniels sprinkled in his standard mix of QB pressures, this game was all about stellar run defense. Daniels showcased both brute strength and great vision, stopping blockers dead in their tracks at the point of attack, patiently reading and then shedding to make the play. He was especially active in the first quarter, when he made three of his five defensive stops.