Chase Daniel Savors His Thanksgiving Day Leading Bears To Victory

November 22, 2018 - 5:35 pm
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DETROIT, Mich. (670 The Score) -- Chase Daniel has been in the NFL for a decade now, embracing each of his six teams, the countless men he has called teammates and every day he could call himself a professional football player.

For some, the $28 million that Daniel has earned in making only two career starts before Thursday is a punch line. To him, being the best teammate behind the scenes and preparing each week as if he were the starter is a matter of pride. It's certainly shared by those around Daniel in moments like these, Thanksgiving Day at Ford Field.

Daniel, 32, made his third career start and first with the Bears on Thursday, leading his team to a 23-16 win over the Lions and an 8-3 mark. Daniel did it the only way he knows how, by giving his best in preparation during a short week and making his team proud when called upon with starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky out with an injured right shoulder.

"It means a lot," Daniel said of his day. "It means a lot. You don't know when these opportunities will come. You just have to make the most of them."

Daniel finished the day 27-of-37 for 230 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, staying within the confines of his offense and making plays when his team needed them. He spread the football around and looked every bit the experienced player in the system that he is.

Bears coach Matt Nagy was among those beaming for Daniel. They have worked together for four of the last six seasons and cultivated a close relationship. Nagy had great trust turning to Daniel in leading the Bears with Trubisky out.

"You can all think you do, but you have no idea how this kid prepares," Nagy said. "Every week, how he prepares. Since the day I met him in 2013, those days don't change. He's very consistent. He takes this very seriously. Every game, he prepares like the starter. So whenever he gets the call that he's going to start, whenever that is, he's never shell-shocked and nothing changes.

"You get the same thing every week. He deserves a lot of credit because he was a big part of this win today."

Bears show they could be something 'special'

Daniel's day began with a harmless blunder as he ran out of the Ford Field tunnel unaware that his teammates weren't ready to take the field but instead waiting for everybody to gather. From there, the Bears had his back.

Daniel rebounded from a slow start offensively and got the Bears back on track. He and Nagy adjusted to tight Lions coverage near the line of scrimmage by spreading the ball to skill players in space, scheming the openings to beat the Detroit coverage.

Late in the first half, Daniel just overshot running back Tarik Cohen on a crisp route that had him open in the end zone. The overthrow forced the Bears to settle for a field goal instead of a touchdown. Early in the fourth quarter, Nagy dialed up Cohen on a wheel route that had him wide open again and Daniel connected for the score that gave the Bears a 16-13 lead.

It was a play that revealed Nagy's offensive acumen and Daniel's ability to step up and lead.

"We know Chase is definitely capable of handling everything that we can handle," Cohen told reporters. "We know from practice, we see the things he does and we knew we had tremendous confidence in him.”

Life for a backup quarterback in the NFL typically isn't what Daniel makes of it. For many, residing in second place on the depth chart is often a source of frustration. Daniel takes pride in helping the starter -- in this case, Trubisky -- be his best each week while readying himself in case his time comes.

When the Bears realized by Wednesday that it was most prudent to hold out Trubisky and protect his injured throwing arm, Trubisky and third-string quarterback Tyler Bray were there to help Daniel get comfortable with the game plan and be ready for his day.

"At this point in the career, it's really, truly not about the money," Daniel said. "It's about opportunities. I felt really good about the opportunity here with coach Nagy to go back up Mitch, to help groom him along. 

"The job of a backup quarterback is to get the starter ready and to be prepared when your opportunity comes. I feel like I do that pretty well."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.​​