Phil Simms, the longtime New York Giants quarterback, and CBS analyst said Monday the Bears have one of the worst backup quarterback situations in the NFL with Chase Daniel slotted behind Mitch Trubisky.
“Chase Daniels, yes, he’s going to be great in the preseason but I saw him play those two games last year, especially outdoors, and you have to worry a lot,” Simms, speaking on his son’s show, Chris Simms Unbuttoned on NBC Sports, said. “You have a Super Bowl team and if you have to go on the road, what do I mean go on the road, play in Chicago or anywhere where else that the situation isn’t perfect, he’s going to struggle.”
First of all: It’s Chase Daniel, not Chase Daniels.
The main point, though: This feels like a guy who watched Daniel struggle to hang on to the football in the cold, wet mist of an early December game against the New York Giants and extrapolated it to be a significant concern for the Bears in 2019. Yes, Daniel fumbled four times and threw two interceptions in that game, which he started while the Bears held Trubisky out with a shoulder injury. Daniel wasn’t good that day, even with the furious comeback he engineered in the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime.
But a week before that, Daniel went on the road to Detroit and won a game in which he efficiently completed 73 percent of his passes for 230 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
“That’s why we have Chase,” coach Matt Nagy said at the time. “I have a great relationship with him, that’s why he’s here. You have no idea — especially when you don’t have any reps with these guys and two days of walkthrough practices — how it’s going to go. No matter how much experience he has in this offense, you really, truly don’t know how it’s going to go. So for him to be able to come out here and do what he did, protect the football and be a leader when he needed to be a leader, I thought he did a great job.”
Even after that loss to the Giants, Nagy was appreciative of what his backup quarterback did.
“Chase puts us in a position, he can run this offense inside-out,” Nagy said. “… He did everything that we asked him to, I appreciate how Chase has been this whole time, and it’s who we are as a team and I’ll never put a win or a loss on one guy.”
That trust Nagy has in Daniel hasn’t eroded during what’s been a rough preseason for the 32-year-old backup. Daniel’s been sacked seven times — some his fault, others not — and was particularly poor against the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday, completing just three of nine passes for 21 yards — an average of 2.3 yards per attempt.
“I guess I’m probably a little biased because I know Chase better than anybody — better than anybody,” Nagy said Monday. “I know Chase. It’s not an easy deal that he gets put into every preseason. That’s part of being a backup. You’re the favorite when you get put in in some situations during the season, but in these situations everyone expects you to be the best ever.
“For me, he’s a coach out there on the field. He gets so many things that people don’t see. He gets people aligned in the huddle the right way, he’s looking at the play clock, he makes things a lot easier for you as a coach than a lot of other different quarterbacks in that spot.”
Consider this worth noting, too: Only three other backup quarterbacks had a better passer rating than Daniel did in 2018.
Among quarterbacks who started eight or fewer games and attempted at least 50 passes, only Tampa Bay’s Ryan Fitzpatrick, Philadelphia’s Nick Foles and San Francisco’s Nick Mullens had a better passer rating than Daniel’s 90.6 mark (Mullens’ was 0.2 points higher; Fitzpatrick wasn’t necessarily a true backup given the Buccaneers yo-yo’d between him and Jameis Winston). It’s a small sample size, but in the confines of that sample size, Daniel did well.
The Bears could’ve had it a lot worse, too, like if they had Daniel’s successor at Mizzou — Blaine Gabbert started three games for the Tennessee Titans and had a 74.9 passer rating, and lost a win-or-go-home Week 17 game to the Indianapolis Colts. Jeff Driskel, Colt McCoy, Cody Kessler, C.J. Beathard — those are all quarterbacks who started multiple games for their teams last year.
There aren't 32 good starting quarterbacks in the NFL, let alone 32 good backups. Maybe the Indianapolis Colts will be fine with Jacoby Brissett taking over for the newly-retired Andrew Luck. It wouldn't be unreasonable to expect the New England Patriots to still make the playoffs if Brian Hoyer had to replace Tom Brady for a period of time. Teddy Bridgewater backing up Drew Brees looks like a good situation in New Orleans.
But within the Bears' division, would the Bears be worse off with Daniel than the Green Bay Packers would with DeShone Kizer? Or Sean Mannion/Kyle Sloter in Minnesota? Or Josh Johnson in Detroit? Probably not.
Yes, Daniel is the highest-paid true backup quarterback in the NFL, carrying with him a $6 million cap hit in 2019. And yes, the Bears might struggle if Daniel had to play more than two games this year. But unless your team is the 1999 St. Louis Rams or 2017 Philadelphia Eagles, there’s going to be a drop-off from starting quarterback to backup quarterback. And the Bears feel like the drop-off from Trubisky to Daniel would be manageable.
After all, it was last year.