Matt Daniels is a man with a high-intensity and love for the game of football. Now, granted, from a base and surface level standpoint, who really cares about the special teams coach? Well, I do and I’m here to tell you why you should be not only intrigued but all-in on the Vikings new special teams coordinator.
History of Daniels:
Playing Career: There’s not much here considering he played only professionally for three years and did not touch the field but being in an NFL locker room and seeing firsthand what it takes to win and be effective as a player will greatly help him as a coach. In his press conference Daniels said “For me, being an undrafted guy coming into this league out of Duke University, special teams was the only way I saw myself being able to make the team. I like to consider myself a special teams demon. That’s kind of what I was. I took it to heart. I took a lot of pride in it. I played with a lot of passion. That’s what you’ll see pour into my players. I’m very personable and very relatable. Guys can lean on me because I’ve done it before and been in their shoes. I know what it looks like. I know what it takes.”
Coaching Career: Daniels first position was as an assistant special teams coach for the LA Rams for two seasons 2018-2019. He then held the same position on the Cowboys for two additional years. This is his 5th season coaching and his first time being the top coach for special teams.
Daniels Understands that, just like his personal experience, a lot of these players have to show their worth on special teams because that’s their only shot. He can recognize the players who want it and are willing to do anything for it.
When it comes to the kicking portion of special teams he truly believes that the mental toughness of your kicker is the most important thing. You have to be able to go out there under all the pressure and perform well.
Daniels is fiery and passionate, He is what people call a football guy. He is just about as football as you can get. He will break down anything you ask him to do and makes special teams interesting.
Check out this press conference where Daniels breaks down why he was having Joseph kick into play instead of booting it out of the endzone. He describes 4 main points as to why there are better outcomes when keeping the ball in play. The 4 points are as follows:
1. They return it past the 25.
2. We tackle them before the 25.
3. There’s a penalty.
4. They fumble the ball.
His mindset is that 3 of the 4 stated outcomes are positive for the kicking team. He says “Put it in play”. He understands there are tons of external factors for special teams but just at a surface level this is his go-to thought process. He wants his players to get ready and have an opportunity to make a play. This certainly should rile up the Vikings fans because it makes games exciting, so, strap in to watch kickoffs every game now.
What to expect from him:
The previous Vikings special teams coordinators were simply boring. Yes, they were decent and mostly competent coaches, but none brought the excitement like Daniels. Daniels will bring passion and love to a group that often gets overlooked, and help bring that culture to the Vikings that everyone so desperately desires.