Chase Daniel brings a personal dynamic to his position with the Detroit Lions that is different than any of the backup quarterbacks Matthew Stafford worked with in the previous 11 seasons.
Daniel and Stafford are contemporaries in the game of football, dating back to their high school roots in Texas.
The 2020 free-agent market has brought them together for the first time in the NFL, thus adding a link to a friendship and relationship that began when both were star quarterbacks at high schools about 30 miles apart in the Dallas area.
While their NFL careers have been on a different level – Stafford as a starter for the Lions, Daniel as a career backup with a total of five career starts – the similarity in age, background and tenure in the NFL has Stafford looking forward to working with Daniel.
“He was really a good high school player, and a good college player,” Stafford said after Daniel signed. “He did a nice job of building a career in the NFL.
“We grew up not far from each other. He and I have known each other for a long time. Off and on throughout our NFL careers. I’d go up and talk to him whenever we played one of his teams.
“I’m happy to have him here. He’s a guy who’s been around some good offenses and some good offensive minds.
“I’m happy to have him on our team. He’s a good dude.”
Daniel led Southlake Carroll High School to two state championships. Stafford won one at Highland Park. Both schools are noted athletics powerhouses that competed in different divisions.
Daniel and Stafford were college stars after high school. Daniel spent four years at Missouri (2005-08) while Stafford spent three at Georgia (2006-08).
Their careers took separate turns after that. Stafford was drafted first overall by the Lions in 2009 while Daniel went undrafted and made the Saints practice squad after being cut by the Redskins.
MOCK DRAFT WATCH: Trade or no trade, Okudah still the front runner for Lions
Meet the Prospect: Tee Higgins
O’HARA’S MOCK 3 4.0: How free agency impacts Lions’ pick
Stafford, who turned 32 in February, had older veterans as primary backups most of his first nine years. It started in Stafford’s rookie season and continued through Shaun Hill (2010-13), Dan Orlovsky (2014-16) and Matt Cassel (2018).
Drew Stanton, a 2007 second-round draft pick, started one game in 2009 and three in 2010 because of injuries. He did not go into either season as the primary backup.
Jake Rudock, a 2016 sixth-round draft pick, took over as the primary backup in 2017 and played briefly in three games, attempting five passes. Last year, Jeff Driskel and rookie David Blough started three and five games respectively – all losses – when Stafford went out with a season-ending back injury sustained in Game 8.
Daniel, who turns 34 in October, has been at both ends of the age-difference pendulum as a backup.
In two tours with New Orleans, he was the young guy behind future Hall of Famer Drew Brees.
It was the complete opposite in two other stops.
Daniel was the old guy mentoring a young quarterback (Carson Wentz) with the Eagles in 2016 and again the last two years with the Bears (Mitchell Trubisky).
With Stafford and the Lions, there is no appreciable gap in age or experience, since both came into the league in 2009.
“The veteran-to-veteran status is something I was sort of wanting,” Daniel said in his conference-call interview last week.
“With me and Matthew, we have a history. It’s not like I’m coming in to be a mentor. Matthew’s one of the best players in the game. It’ll be fun to work side by side with him.”
Daniel has talked about spending most of his career in two basic offensive systems based on the schemes of Saints head coach Sean Payton and Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.
“Andy’s more the RPO (run pass option) stuff,” Daniel said. “Everybody knows the type of offense they run down in New Orleans. It’s awesome. It’s great … throw the ball down the field.”
Daniel knows that the backup’s role is to support the starter and make suggestions – and be ready to play.
He’s happy to pass on his knowledge of the offenses he has worked in – if asked.
“If I get asked about it,” he said, “I’ll definitely try to bring my knowledge to the forefront.”