McDaniel has been ‘the quiet MVP of our defense’

at-arizona-logoCoincidence or not? Tony McDaniel comes to Seattle in 2013 and the Hawks win the Super Bowl in his first year and put themselves in position to win in his second year.

Then he gets cut — and the Hawks fail to make their third straight Super Bowl.

OK, so it probably is mostly coincidence. But, then again, maybe he is the Super Bowl lucky charm.

Either way, there is no denying the unsung impact he has had on the Seahawks’ top-ranked defense this season — despite being a last-minute re-addition.

McDaniel was a bit of a surprise cut in August 2015 as the Seahawks looked for a way to save salary cap space after re-signing Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner to big contracts as camp began.

With the younger Ahtyba Rubin freshly signed, many thought Brandon Mebane might be the one let go — but Pete Carroll and John Schneider went with McDaniel instead, giving them $3 million more in cap space. He ended up landing with Tampa Bay, joining former Seahawk Clinton McDonald (who ended up injured for most of the season).

The Hawks then continued their DT roulette this year, letting Mebane go to San Diego in free agency and fortuitously adding McDaniel for cheap when he unbelievably still was unsigned as NFL camps began.

McDaniel took the pressure off second-round pick Jarran Reed, who has been banged up at times, and the 31-year-old veteran has looked great since he stepped back on the field for Seattle.

He has been very effective in rotation with Rubin, Reed, Frank Clark, et al., as the Seahawks have led the league in overall defense and ranked third vs. the run and in scoring.

Against Atlanta, McDaniel was Johnny on the spot to pounce on a fumble caused by Cliff Avril — McDaniel’s first takeaway since that 2013 Super Bowl season.

Avril called McDaniel the most underrated player on the team, and Richard Sherman said he has been the defensive MVP.

“I think Tony McDaniel has been the unspoken, the quiet MVP of our defense and defensive line,” Sherman said. “I think he’s been a great pickup for us — (it is) obviously great to have him back. He’s made a huge impact every game. Nobody is going to say it because it doesn’t always show up on a stat sheet, but he’s done a phenomenal job in the middle of our defense.”

Avril, McDaniel and Michael Bennett all came to the team in 2013 and were big reasons they won the Super Bowl that season — something they all remember.

“We joke around in the locker room that they tried to break up the big three, which is me, Mike and Tony ’cause we all kind of came in together,” Avril said. “We joke about the Super Bowl and different things like that.”

Avril said McDaniel “does everything right. He shows up on game day, balls out. Nobody really speaks or says anything about it other than the coaches from time to time or us.”

Avril said McDaniel and Rubin “take on double-teams. Their stats aren’t the greatest; but, without those guys in the middle, we can’t do anything that we’re doing.”

And that’s why it won’t be a surprise if McDaniel helps the Seahawks win another Super Bowl.


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