Veteran backup quarterback Chase Daniel is the newest member of the LA Chargers. A one-year, $1.5 million dollar deal reunites him with offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. He also spent a short period of time in Chicago with Brandon Staley.
With Tyrod Taylor gone, the Chargers needed a true backup in the quarterback room. This move can only help Justin Herbert since Daniel has quite a bit of experience with Lombardi’s quarterback and offensive coaching style. Out of all of the “mentor” backup quarterback choices in this free-agent class, Daniel made the most sense in terms of both cost and X’s and O’s.
Some fans may be disappointed with this move due to the fact that it leaves 2019 fifth-round pick Easton Stick as the third-stringer instead of the primary backup. However, it’s worth pointing out that the Chargers still have two years on Stick’s rookie deal to figure out if he can be the long-term backup.
It’s also not impossible that Stick finds a way to beat out Daniel in the 2021 preseason if he truly has improved (well, if there is a 2021 preseason).
Easton Stick as the LA Chargers’ only backup is a big risk.
I’m not sure how fans could be comfortable with the idea of Stick being Herbert’s back up without some competition though. Aside from two weird “hit management” snaps against the Jaguars, Stick hasn’t played in a game where he could be truly evaluated in two years.
In that 2019 preseason, Stick had a good game against Seattle, a terrible game against New Orleans, and a meh game against San Francisco. It’s not his fault the pandemic canceled the 2020 preseason, but we don’t have anything current to base his progress on nonetheless.
If anything, the Daniel signing relieves pressure off of both Herbert and Stick. Someone who’s worked extensively with Lombardi is perfect for Herbert. Stick isn’t expected to be QB2 and can likely continue his development this year without having the pressure of potentially coming into a regular-season game on his shoulders.
Let’s be clear: Daniel isn’t going to do a 2017 Nick Foles impression if Justin Herbert sustains a serious injury. Can he control a game and potentially protect a lead if Herbert has to come out though? I think so.
Think about the Chargers’ second game against the Raiders from last season. Derek Carr goes out early in the game with a groin injury, forcing Marcus Mariota to come in. Had the Raiders’ secondary not been in total disarray, it’s very fair to say that Mariota would’ve won the game for Las Vegas.
Serviceable quarterback play for one or two games is what the Chargers should be preparing for in a worst-case scenario where Herbert has to exit.
Daniel is a signing that works out for Herbert, Stick, and the coaching staff. Hopefully, he never has to play as much as one snap in the regular season. But if the LA Chargers have a seven-point lead at Mile High Stadium and Herbert has to exit late in the third quarter, I’m more comfortable with Daniel coming in to protect the lead than I am with Stick or other free-agent quarterback options.