The Green Bay Packers were 15-1 during the 2011 regular season, a truly monumental feat considering their defense was ranked last in the NFL as well as worst in the team’s history. After a quick exit in the playoffs against the Giants, one thing has been stuck front and center in Ted Thompson’s mind; find some defensive linemen that are more than just space eaters.
After the shock of that loss wore off, there was plenty of talk from the Packers defensive coaches during the early spring of 2012 about needing some “juice” out of the defensive line. Basically, finding a guy or two that can be more of a disruptor than a “hold your ground” guy. Someone who can collapse the pocket from the inside and help the Packers pathetic pass rush. Thompson has been trying ever since.
In March of 2012, Thompson took the unusual path (for him) of bringing in a few free agents, albeit low-risk gambles like Anthony Hargrove and Daniel Muir. He followed that up by drafting Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniels a month later and then signing yet another free agent in May, Philip Merling.
Referring to the free agents, Hargrove showed little and was cut in camp. Daniel Muir had a surprisingly impressive training camp and was somewhat of a surprise cut on the final week. Merling stuck around until Mike Neal returned from his 4 game suspension and then was cut. No juice attained from those three.
The draft picks were a mixed bag. I wasn’t a fan of the Worthy draft pick myself, and he played to my expectations. If he has the will, the effort or the juice, he sure didn’t show it before landing on injured reserve. Mike Daniels was a pleasant surprise – I knew little of him other than he was undersized at 6’0″ and had been quite productive rushing the passer from inside at Iowa. Making the jump to the NFL, the massive offenive linemen he has to deal with on a consistent basis limits the impact Daniels is able to make at this level. However, used in the right situations, he brought a little juice with his quickness and got some pressure on the quarterback. He’s just not the every-down player the Packers need.