Chase Daniel was asked about his Eagles debut. He smiled and said, “It was fun. It was a lot of fun.”
Maybe for him. Not for anybody who watched it (see 10 observations).
Daniel, signed to a three-year, $21 million contract this offseason, had a shaky Eagles debut Thursday night before a Linc crowd eager to see Carson Wentz get his NFL career started (see story).
Daniel played all of the first half other than the first and last series and passed for just 15 yards in the Eagles’ 17-9 preseason-opening win over the Buccaneers at the Linc (see Instant Replay).
Seven series, 15 yards. That's hard to do.
“It seemed like we’d have one good play for a first down and then we’d get called for holding or I’d take a sack or something bad would happen,” Daniel said.
“We had too many negative plays, and I think especially in the first preseason game when you haven’t seen the live bullets in eight months you want to get into a rhythm, you want to get the short passing game going, take some shots, run the ball, and we definitely weren’t able to do that tonight.”
Sam Bradford played only three snaps before calling it a night and making way for Daniel, who head coach Doug Pederson insists will be the Eagles’ No. 2 quarterback.
The six-year veteran was on the field for seven series that netted 12 yards of offense. Daniel did scramble three yards for a touchdown, but the passing game was … woeful is a pretty good word for it.
Daniel completed four of 10 attempts for just 15 yards, an average of 54 inches per attempt. He was also sacked four times for 19 yards, leaving the Eagles with negative-four net passing yards over the seven-series span Daniel was on the field.
“We had ups and downs,” Daniel said at his locker. “We obviously didn’t play as well as we wanted to on the offensive side of the ball. Offense has a long way to go, but it was the first preseason game and we’re still in training camp mode, so hopefully we can fix it this week and get ready for Pittsburgh.
“I thought just entirely as an offense we just weren’t very sharp. I don’t know what it is, I don’t know what it was, but we plan on fixing it come Saturday when we’re back in pads and practicing at NovaCare and come out a lot sharper against Pittsburgh.”
The Eagles face the Steelers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh on Thursday. Pederson hasn’t said how much each quarterback will play yet.
But Daniel certainly has only one direction to go.
Now, this wasn’t all Daniel’s fault. The second-team offensive line was terrible and didn’t give Daniel much time. And his receivers didn’t help him out either.
But Daniel really never looked down the field, seemed content dumping everything off underneath the coverage and had very little zip on his passes.
“Well, it was tough, it was a tough situation,” Pederson said. “There wasn't a ton of time back there, obviously, as you know, to throw the ball. But he was able to move the team a little bit with the run game.
“It's just hard to get into a rhythm as a quarterback when things are not stable and not consistent. We had some blocking assignment errors we've got to fix. But for the most part, he came out healthy and we have another opportunity next week to get this thing better.”
In other words, he did a good job handing off.
Daniel was on the field for 24 plays that generated 12 yards. That’s 18 inches per play.
“I think rust is definitely a factor,” he said. “I told Carson even before he went out there, there’s a big difference -- and it goes for the entire offense -- there’s a big difference from practice to a game, right?
“So there’s different phases you go through. So it’s to get the first one behind us. We’re looking to going to Pittsburgh and playing a very difficult Pittsburgh team. It’ll tell us a lot about ourselves.”
Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter elected to keep his first-team defense on the field for the first quarter, so three of the Eagles’ drives with Daniel at the helm were second-team offense vs. first-team defense.
You would expect that to be quite a challenge. But things didn’t get much better when the Bucs brought in their second units in the second quarter.
“They left the first defense in for the entire quarter, but honestly, that’s good work for the 2’s – not only the offensive line but for myself and our receivers and everything like that.
“It really doesn’t matter who they line up across from us. We want to be sharp in everything we do, and we just didn’t have it tonight.”
This wasn’t all Daniel’s fault, but when you get a three-year, $21 million contract and you’re blocking the rookie first-round pick that everybody wants to see, 4 for 10 for 15 yards is not going to cut it.
“We definitely want to play a lot better,” Daniel said. “It doesn’t matter who we’re going against. But that’s to be expected a little bit. Listen guys, it’s the first preseason game. We have three more before we get ready. We’re literally still in training camp. We don’t break training camp till the day before the Pittsburgh game.
“So you want to make those mistakes in these games and sometimes fans don’t realize it. You want to make these mistakes in the preseason games because come season time there’s going to be some 2’s playing with the 1’s and you want to get those mistakes corrected and fixed and that’s what we’re going to do.
“We’re going to go back to the drawing board, fix our mistakes and just keep pressing on."
Late during Daniel’s stint Thursday night the crowd at the Linc began chanting, “We want Wentz, We want Wentz.”
Just before the first half ended, they got their wish. Wentz had an up-and-down NFL debut, but there were more positives than negatives.
And certainly more positives than what Daniel gave the fans.
Daniel said he heard the chant but couldn’t tell what the fans were chanting.
“I wasn’t sure what they were saying,” he said. “Is that what they were saying? I’m sure they want to see Carson.”