Chase Daniel’s Role In Carson Wentz’s Dazzling Debut

How the Eagles' backup quarterback helped the rookie excel against the Browns.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

When Doug Pederson revealed last week that Carson Wentz arrived at the NovaCare Complex around 5:30 a.m. to prepare as the Eagles’ new starting quarterback, it wasn’t surprising. Throughout high school, college and his early days in the NFL, Wentz earned a reputation as someone who possessed a nearly unparalleled work ethic.

But as it turns out, it wasn’t Wentz who set up his schedule that often has him at the Eagles’ facility from 5:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Rather, it was backup, Chase Daniel, who was brought in for precisely that reason: to help the rookie grow.

“It all goes back to my time in this league. I know a lot of people want to say I haven’t played in a lot of games, which is true, I’ve played and started two games, but I’ve been around a future first-ballot Hall of Famer in Drew Brees,” Daniel said. “I backed him up for four years [and] I backed up Alex Smith for three years, so I sort of know what [starting] takes and entails over an in-season schedule.

“That’s what I sort of brought to Carson last week is, ‘Hey, let’s get in here early. Let’s get a head start on this film. This is what we’ve done in the past. This is what Drew has done in the past.’”

Both Pederson and Wentz have repeatedly praised Daniel for serving as a mentor to the rookie. While the Eagles traded up in the draft — twice — to pick Wentz, they also gave Daniel a reported $21 million, including $12 million guaranteed, over three years.

Wentz “loves” the schedule Daniel has set up for him so far, which includes seven-hour study sessions on their off-days. They also work one day ahead of the team in film study because it helps with mental repetitions, according to Daniel. Yesterday, the quarterbacks could jump ahead to working on third-down packages with their base plays already behind them. Today, they’ll work on the red zone with third-down packages already covered.

“It started my rookie year,” Daniel said. “Drew was like, ‘Hey, we’re gonna be here at 5:30 in the morning. This is what we’re going to watch on Wednesdays, this is what we’re going to watch on Thursdays [and] this is what we’re going to watch on Fridays.’ I was like, ‘Okay. Yes, absolutely. I’ll do whatever you say.’ I’m a rookie, he’s throwing for 5,000 yards a season.”

As time has gone on, of course, the strategy has evolved. Daniel now has two pages of notes about the schedule, and he brought it to Philadelphia for Wentz because it made Smith feel “very prepared” in Kansas City.

“There’s a difference in preparing in the college level and preparing at the NFL level. I think you have to take it up a notch. Carson was already a film nerd,” Daniel said. “You have it structured in a way where you know exactly what you’re doing at 6 a.m. on a Thursday. You know exactly what you’re doing at 6 p.m. on a Thursday.

“Obviously, the schedule is not what made him play well [against Cleveland]. His superior athletic ability, his intangibles, his smarts [and] his arm strength, that’s what made him play well. But you’d love to think the preparation part is pretty important, too.”