SET TO SOAR
Sep 30, 2016 03:14PM
● By Ashley Pape
It’s been a few months since the chatter of former Dragon quarterback Chase Daniel potentially becoming a starter in the NFL began to fizzle.
The eighth-year Super Bowl champion, playing under his former offensive coordinator, now head coach Doug Pederson has still made a splash, despite his new team trading up to the second overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft to select North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz.
The Philadelphia Eagles, who picked up Daniel back in March during free agency, have said all along they never had intentions of placing Wentz in the backup roll in 2016, but the chatter in the City of Brotherly Love certainly didn’t vibe with that notion. Still, Daniel put his head down and got to work during the offseason to prepare to become a locker room leader and an on-the-field contributor to the best of his abilities.
“For me, it’s all like clockwork,” Daniel says. “Going into my eighth year, I have everything mapped out, exactly. I work with a trainer in Dallas from the end of January to April. Then, we come up here for OTA’s, and when they’re done in June-July, I go to San Diego to train with Todd Durkin.”
Daniel saw limited time in the first preseason game, but with Wentz suffering a hairline fracture to his rib in the first preseason game, he picked up some snaps. His most impressive outing was the third preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In three weeks, Daniel has gone 23 of 38 for 201 yards and a touchdown. He also has a rushing touchdown. He’s been sacked four times behind a not-so-experienced Eagles offensive line.
“I feel like I’m playing really well,” he says. “I’ve been taking advantage of most opportunities given to me. You’ve always got to be ready when your number’s called. I feel like I’m playing confident right now. It’s good to keep building on a strong offseason and training camp. Keep stacking those blocks. Hopefully, we’ll get out there and show some good stuff in the last preseason game and get ready for Cleveland in Week 1.”
Daniel said it’s easy for players to look to him in the locker room and on the field as a leader, coming from a familiar Pederson offense.
“I sort of bring a lot of comfort to the guys to know what he’s doing and how he’s calling the game,” he says. “I’ve been in the offense for four years now. It helps to show the guys the nooks and crannies that may take a bit of time if you haven’t played in it as long as I have.”
The adjustment to his new home has been relatively easy, Daniel says, as almost all of the furniture is in his new home in South Jersey.
“We’re used to the Midwest and Dallas and down south a little bit,” he says. “So, it’s been an interesting change for my wife and [me], but it’s a good one. We’re excited about it.”
While it’s clear that Daniel won’t start the season, with league veteran Sam Bradford in a healthy physical state thus far, he still looks to make a contribution to the team each day. He attributes that to his Southlake pedigree.
“Growing up in Southlake made me strong,” Daniel says. “People were gunning for your job and for the football team. When we were there, obviously we were pretty good. It was good that you have to prove yourself week in and week out, every single day. You have to do that in the NFL. No matter who you’re playing, you have to bring your A-game every single week and you have to be ready.”
Daniel took some additional time to answer some questions about his time in Southlake and beyond.
What have you learned in your eight years in the pros so far?
Never take everything for granted. Every day is not promised to you. You have to go out there and prove yourself. You have to practice really well. You have to play. When your number gets called, you have to be ready to play and play well if you want to stick around this league. I’ve been striving to prepare like a starter week in and week out and do well when my number is called.
What are the differences between the cities you’ve played in and Southlake/the Metroplex?
I think Southlake is great. It’s a one-high-school town. I wouldn’t change anything about my time there. My parents still live there and I still work out down there in January through April, so I’m always around the team around that time. It’s great. New Orleans is great. Down south, the fans are nuts there. Really it’s been that way in KC, too. They are some of the craziest, blue-collar fans in the country. I’ve had great experiences where I’ve been.
Favorite memory playing football as a Dragon?
I would obviously say my senior year was pretty special to go wire to wire so to speak. To win a championship and be ranked No. 1 at the end of the year was pretty special.
Can you pay homage to your greatest influencers: Todd Dodge, Drew Brees, Doug Pederson?
Sure thing. Coach Dodge taught me how to live, eat, breathe and sleep football. I can’t say enough to not only how he progressed with me onthe field, but how much of a man he made me. We still stay close to this day. Drew: Being around a future hall of famer, first-ballad hall of famer in my mind—especially the first four years of my NFL career—was very special. He taught me everything from preparation to how to take my game to the next level, from off the field to on the field. I really can’t say enough about him. I’ve been with Coach Pederson the past three years, and I know what he brings as a head coach in the NFL. He’s played the position of quarterback and knows the locker room. It’s really special. Being with all of those three guys has made me pretty lucky.
What do you miss the most about Southlake?
Joe’s Pizza, hands down.
Well, we were going to ask your favorite place to grab a bite when you’re in town... Same answer?
Defnitely Joe’s or Anamia’s. Those are [No.] 1 and 1-A.
You’ve had the rare opportunity to be on winning teams for most of your life, from Carroll to the University of Missouri. What is that like?
I think being on winning teams even when I was younger, before high school, brought that confidence that we just expected to win. It’s something that you can’t really teach. It’s a confidence factor that no matter who you’re playing, you expect to win the game. I’ve been to a lot of championship games, from the state championship to having a Super Bowl ring. You come to expect it, but it doesn’t come easy. It’s good to know you have what it takes to win football games.
Were you a Cowboys fan growing up?
I guess I grew up a little bit of a Cowboys fan. I grew up a Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin fan, but was also a huge Brett Favre fan. I loved the way he played the game.
What would you like to say to people back home?
You know, it sounds pretty cliché, but just follow your dreams. I’ve always had people tell me, ‘You’re too slow, too short; you don’t have a strong enough arm.’ The power of your mind is something special. Put all of your faith in God. He’s already written a plan for your life. Put the control in His hands, work hard, and do the right things in life, no matter if it’s football or life in general.