When backup quarterback Chase Daniel reviewed his first start in four years, he felt a tinge of disappointment. It was an excellent road win for the Bears against the Lions — their third victory in 12 days in the NFC North — but his performance still wasn’t good enough.
In his opinion, at least.
“I’m a perfectionist,” Daniel said.
His 10 incomplete passes?
“Some of those should’ve been completions,” he said.
Taking four sacks?
“That’s too many,” Daniel said. “And those were all on me.”
Anything else, Chase?
“Listen, I got to get the ball out quicker on some of those [sacks], and a couple of them were miscommunications,” Daniel said. “I got to be clearer up front with how I want to set the protection.”
But, wait, there was more. On the Lions’ fourth sack, which came on a third-and-eight play from the Bears’ 27 in the fourth quarter, rookie wide receiver Anthony Miller was wide-open running down the left seam. Safety Glover Quin sacked Daniel on a blitz, though Daniel still had time.
“I thought we should have picked up [the blitz],” Daniel said. “[It’s] stuff like that from an offensive-line communication standpoint. The more I’m with them, whether it be in practice or in a game, the better they’re going to feel with me.”
The Bears are planning for that to happen if Daniel has to make a second consecutive start in place of Mitch Trubisky on Sunday against the Giants.
Trubisky returned to practice Wednesday after missing all of last week, but he still was limited with his ailing right shoulder. During the open period for the media, he took part in some drills but didn’t throw a pass.
“You’ve got to be able to make sure in his position, if he’s going to play, he’s got to be able to make throws and physically be safe,” coach Matt Nagy said. “We’ll just keep talking through things right now.”
The most impressive aspect of Daniel’s performance on Thanksgiving — he went 27-for-37 for 230 yards and two touchdowns — was that it came after only two walkthroughs with the starters.
“And we didn’t change anything,” Nagy said.
Daniel prides himself on his daily approach — “I prepare every day like I’m the starter, whether I get the practice reps or not,” he said — but there’s a significant difference in seeing Trubisky get those reps in practice and getting them yourself.
But Daniel knows that. That’s why this week at Halas Hall is important for him and the Bears, who have a 1½-game lead on the Vikings in the NFC North. Daniel is getting his first work with the first-team offense at full speed in multiple practices — with a victory against the Lions to build on.
“It’s just [getting] full-speed reps on corner routes, on stick routes, on stuff that I haven’t had a lot of timing with them because I haven’t played,” Daniel said. “Those are really the main things.”
Against Detroit, it was apparent that Daniel has a strong handle on Nagy’s offense. But even Nagy said that practicing with the starters would be beneficial.
“It could definitely help him out,” Nagy said before practice. “So if that’s the route we end up going, rep-wise he’s going to get more reps vs. what he went through [last week]. That was hard. That was all mental.”
Daniel still excelled. Despite his self-criticism, he played well enough to win a tight game. The Bears will expect the same — if not better after practicing this week — against the Giants at MetLife Stadium if he starts.
“He’s always been almost like an assistant coach to us,” Nagy said. “He’s been great with that. So now here’s a guy who in his role is fulfilling not only that ‘assistant coach’ part, but a guy that has the ability to step in and make coaches feel very comfortable that you can win games with him at quarterback.”