Matt Daniels Loves the Rookies, Partly Because “They Don’t Know Beep”

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

During seemingly every press conference, Matt Daniels demonstrates his love for football and for special teams. He’s always very charming and very outgoing with his answers.

The latest example didn’t disappoint.

Daniels met with the Minnesota media last week, beginning by unpacking his enthusiasm for rookie players. “No one loves rookies more than I do,” Daniels begins. The follow-up question asks the ST coordinator to clarify why he has so much love for rookies: “What I love so much about the rookies is the opportunity to develop ’em. They come in thinking that they know so much and then they realize that they don’t know beep.” The response generated some chuckling.

Matt Daniels Explains His Love for Rookies

Before becoming an NFL coach, Matt Daniels was an NFL player.

The 34-year-old wasn’t around for a super long time, playing from just 2012-15. Within that time, Daniels put in work with the Rams, Jaguars, and Chargers. He only snagged 3 snaps on defense in his career. On special teams, Daniels was on the field for 79 snaps.

NFL: New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens
Nov 3, 2019; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Willie Snead (83) and New England Patriots wide receiver Matthew Slater (18) hug prior to the game between the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

So, we’re not talking about someone who had an NFL career akin to Matthew Slater, a special teams star who played for the same franchise from 2008 (Kevin O’Connell’s draft year) to 2023.

Daniels will work with quite a few rookies given his status as the special teams coordinator.

True, every coordinator works with young players, but the rookie defenders and offensive players are often backups on their side of the ball. In the backup role, those players can often get meaningful game time with the special teams.

Oct 15, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback NaJee Thompson (11) warms up before a game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

One thinks of NaJee Thompson last year or Josh Metellus before him as great examples.

Matt Daniels can take these rookies and plug them into a spot like punt coverage or kickoff. While working within that role, the younger depth players can continue growing their game as they compete to earn more robust roles on either offense or defense (like Mr. Metellus).

Daniels loves getting young players to “buy in” and “being able to just coach these guys hard.”

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Jan 1, 2023; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers punter Pat O’Donnell (16) has his punt blocked by Minnesota Vikings defender Josh Metellus (44) during the first quarter of their game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings special teams group is going through some transition. Greg Joseph’s departure means Will Reichard and John Parker Romo are competing for the K1 job. Meanwhile, Ryan Wright will need to hold off Seth Vernon to return as the P1. Andrew DePaola, the All Pro at long snapper, is running unopposed, but he’ll need to keep being sharp so that the Vikings don’t feel compelled to bring in some LS competition.

Matt Daniels was brought to Minnesota when Kevin O’Connell took over as head coach. Going into Year 3, Daniels is hoping to push his part of the operation to its highest level yet. Helping the rookies to grow their game will be one way of doing so.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and Over the Cap helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.