Here are a few facts about Chase Daniel: He’s highly regarded around the league for his football I.Q. He’s spent the 2013-2016 seasons with either Andy Reid, Matt Nagy and/or Doug Pederson. He’s been a pro for eight seasons and was a Heisman Trophy finalist in college. He’s started two games and thrown 78 passes in the NFL, only three of which have come in the last three seasons.
One of those things is not like the other. But for the Bears, Daniel’s lack of in-game experience wasn’t a deterrent to signing him to a two-year deal that adds another layer to the structure built around Mitch Trubisky.
“He has, obviously, knowledge of the offense, Chase does, that's huge, that's only going to help,” general manager Ryan Pace said. “And then I think also the benefit you know look, he's played with Alex Smith, he's played with Drew Brees, he's been around a lot of really good quarterback play, I think that only helps.”
Mark Sanchez was a well-respected mentor figure for Trubisky in 2017, having brought a been-there, done-that perspective to a rookie quarterback experiencing everything for the first time in the NFL. But with the Bears betting big on Nagy’s offense and Trubisky’s ability to effective operate it, grabbing someone who’s tight with Nagy and knows his offense well can be beneficial to last year’s No. 2 overall pick.
Daniel can be a sounding board and act as sort of a conduit from the coaching staff — Nagy, offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich and quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone — to Trubisky around Halas Hall. And with the complexities of Nagy’s offense that Trubisky will have to learn, hearing a concept a different way from a teammate does have some benefit.
“It's very quarterback-intensive,” Daniel said. “It's not just go out there and throw to the open guy. I mean, we're going to spend a lot of time in the classroom, a lot of time in walk-throughs, a lot of time just going through the specifics of this offense. It's very specific from a quarterback perspective in terms of splits by receivers, what route does a tight end have on this concept, where the running back is, the depth of a running back, how many yards on a ZD bend.
“It's very quarterback intensive, and as a quarterback we're supposed to know that stuff. I'm looking forward to teaching Mitchell.”
This isn’t to say Daniel’s job description as the Bears’ backup quarterback isn't lost on him, not when the world saw Nick Foles sub in for an injured Carson Wentz and lead the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl title last month. Daniel remains confident he can step in and play if needed — he pointed to running the New Orleans Saints’ first-string offense on Wednesdays in practice last year, which were Brees’ off day. And Daniel felt confident about the handful of games he has played in his career, as well as what he’s done in preseason play.
But while the Bears aren’t getting a proven backup with in-game experience or snaps in conference titles (at least as a pro; Daniel squared off with Oklahoma's Sam Bradford in back-to-back Big 12 title games while at Missouri) or Super Bowls, that may not be the point here. 2018 is all about Trubisky. It’s not that a contingency plan doesn’t matter, but doing everything possible to create the right environment for Trubisky to develop may be more important.
And signing Daniel should be another step in creating that right environment for the most important player on the Bears.
“I think one of the biggest things in this league is these rookies quarterbacks, second-year quarterbacks get put way too much on their plate,” Daniel said. “And I think here we’re going to try to simplify things a little bit, get back to the base offense that Matt runs and just letting Mitch play freely and not overload his plate. Just go out there from Day One and have fun and sling it around a little bit, play with confidence.”