Mike Daniels exploded off the ball and thrust his hands into the "7" and "0" of T.J. Lang's jersey. Daniels' power sent Lang reeling backward — if only for a moment. Daniels, the irresistible force boasting equal parts muscle and determination, had his eyes set on the quarterback and kept driving forward. Lang, the immovable object and powerful technician, wasn't about to let Daniels keep pushing him back.
If the Green Bay Packers are seeking an additional revenue stream, they should consider selling tickets to the one-on-one matchups between Lang and Daniels.
Lang, the Packers’ superb right guard, owns a 3-2 record against Daniels, the Packers’ powerhouse defensive tackle, in the daily one-on-one pass-blocking drills, based on our obviously unofficial scorecard. Of the five reps, four were difficult to score. Was Daniels’ powerful rush enough? Or did Lang hold off Daniels long enough?
The scoring of the drill, however, is largely irrelevant. These are two excellent players bringing out the best in each other. If Lang can beat Daniels, then he can beat any defensive lineman. Same for Daniels. If he can beat Lang, then he can beat any offensive lineman.
“I have an incredible amount of respect for T.J., and Josh (Sitton),” Daniels said. “I think we have the best guard tandem. Those guys are animals and they block well. A lot of guys were complimenting T.J., a certain blocking style he has. I said he doesn’t block me that way. He blocks me a different way. The way he blocks me, he does that well, too. He can vary it up based on the guys he goes against. He’s a smart player. He knows all the little things about the position and he’s a pro. I appreciate those guys over there because they give us great work. We give them great work, as well. We get after it.”
For Lang, going up against Daniels is the football equivalent of Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities.”
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
“He’s definitely a tough guy to block,” Lang said. “He’s obviously a guy who’s very competitive. He’s relentless and he doesn’t take a whole lot of plays off. He’s a guy that I hate going against but I love going against because I know he’s going to make me better, and I’d like to think I can make him better, as well. I think we both embrace that battle, that competition that we get with each other. Watching him play, I know he’s one of the better D-tackles in the whole league. It’s not fun to block a guy like that every play but when you step back and think about it, it’s a good thing because that competitive nature that we both have is going to make us a lot better.”
Daniels laughed when relayed the “hate ... love” comment. Daniels has made it his mission to make his unit — and the team as a whole — tougher. Daniels time and again has called Green Bay’s offensive line the best in the NFL. Maybe the O-line would have developed into an elite unit without Daniels’ hard-charging style, but it certainly hasn’t hurt.
“We make each other better. We make each other better. That’s what it’s all about,” Daniels said. “Those are the best in the NFL at what they do. They are. You watch some of the games. I don’t remember last time I’ve seen a quarterback in a playoff game in the pocket with like 10, 12 seconds. That just doesn’t happen in the NFL, but it happens often with our guys. They really deserve a lot more credit for a lot of the success we’ve had on that side of the ball. I go against them every day and I’ve been saying this since I got here, they’re great. They’re really good.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.