Given how much money the Eagles shelled out to acquire Chase Daniel in the offseason, you'd think the veteran backup quarterback would at least excel in exhibition games. That hasn't been the case.
Daniel got the start for the preseason finale against the Jets on Thursday, capping off an uninspiring summer with a shaky performance. He completed 14 of 22 passes to post a solid 63.6 completion percentage, but for only 6.0 yards per attempt. Worst of all were a pair of ghastly interceptions, one of which came on a promising drive the signal-caller led into the red zone.
After his team's 14-6 win over the Jets (see 10 observations from the victory), Daniel chose to focus on the Eagles' perfect 4-0 preseason record and was already moving on to Week 1 of the regular season against the Browns.
"Luckily for us, those games in hindsight really mean nothing," Daniel said of the preseason. "(Eagles coach Doug Pederson) really hit it right on the head and said, 'Let's go out and prepare as best we can for the Cleveland Browns, because that is all of our focus moving forward.
"It's good to end the preseason on a high note, 4-0, you always want to win all of them, but really our focus is on the Cleveland Browns."
Except Daniel didn't really contribute to an Eagles victory on Thursday. The offense wasn't responsible for either touchdown — Paul Turner's 71-yard punt return and Ed Reynolds' 90-yard interception return were the only scoring plays.
Despite Daniel's poor effort statistically, Pederson came to his quarterback's defense after the game.
"I thought he played well considering the two picks," Pederson said. "I felt like he might've pressed just a little bit on the first one, kind of forced it in there a little bit, but that happens sometimes when you're trying to make a play, especially this last preseason game."
It's not often when a quarterback throws two ugly interceptions and mention of those picks is immediately preceded by praise. Of course, Pederson is the reason why Daniel was signed by the Eagles in the first place, as the relationship between coach and quarterback dates to their time in Kansas City together.
Pederson may not want to criticize Daniel, but the numbers do all the talking. The eighth-year veteran completed 37 of 60 passes (61.7 percent) this summer for just 332 yards — a paltry 5.5 average — with one touchdown and the two picks. He also ran six times for 10 yards and a score.
Daniel looked reasonably sharp in only one game, the win against the Colts last week. Still, despite the somewhat rocky preseason, he's staying upbeat.
"I feel very confident," Daniel said. "I thought for the most part this entire preseason I threw the ball very well. Interceptions are going to happen. Luckily, they happened in games that don't count, so it's not going to deter my confidence at all.
"I've been doing this for eight years now, so for me, it's on to the next game and we're on to the Cleveland Browns."
Not surprisingly, Pederson remains comfortable with Daniel as his backup going forward.
"I know Chase," Pederson said. "I know what he's capable of doing. Other than the two picks, I thought he played well, managed the game well, and he came away healthy. That's all I asked him to do."
Should Daniel be pressed into action at some point during the regular season, he'll be asked to do a lot more than stay healthy. At a price tag of $5 million for this season, the Eagles are hoping he can win a game or two if needed, something there's not much evidence right now that he's capable of doing.
Daniel has started only two regular season games in the NFL, posting as 1-1 record, so you can forgive people for putting added weight on his preseason performance.
To be fair, Daniel is playing with other NFL backups right now. If he were in a real game, he would have better protection behind the starting offensive line and a superior supporting cast of weapons to throw to. Then again, there's no excuse for the interceptions we saw on Thursday, especially when by Daniel's own assessment, his teammates played well.
"Any time you get out there, you just want to go and get in a rhythm," Daniel said. "I felt like we did for the most part. The interception in the red zone just can't happen. I tried to get a little greedy there. For the most part, I thought our offensive line played really well and same for our receivers."
He didn't show much rhythm this preseason, but Daniel is the backup to Sam Bradford this year, if you believe Pederson. The only thing that could change that is if Pederson decides second overall pick Carson Wentz is a better option, which based on the way Daniel played this summer, doesn't seem too far-fetched.