WASHINGTON — Chase Daniel should be the Redskins’ third-string quarterback.
(Oh dear God, what is that burning smell? Ah, my Jayhawk tattoo just burst into flames. One moment...)
Listen, Colt Brennan fans — I refuse to refer to you with the word that rhymes with adult — this hurts me more than it hurts you. Quite literally. It’s actually physically painful for me to write something positive about Missouri — the state, the university, the band. Oh wait, there wasn’t a band called Missouri. There was a band called Kansas. Because Kansas rocks!
If you’re not from Kansas or Missouri, you can’t understand this silliness, and that’s OK. You’ll just have to take my word for it: These two states, as Keith Jackson would say, “plain don’t like each other.” The two universities feel the same. It’s the oldest continuous football rivalry west of the Mississippi, after all. It all started in 1863 when Missouri alum William Quantrill torched the town of Lawrence, Kan., after the Jayhawks beat Mizzou on a last-second field goal to win the Big Two title. (Some facts in that last sentence may not be entirely accurate.)
I bring you this history lesson to prove that I am sincere in my belief about Daniel’s superiority because clearly this is a position I did not reach lightly. From the first day of training camp, I’ve been reluctantly impressed by Daniel. He’s been poised, accurate and comfortable in the offense.
He was the best quarterback among all four at the scrimmage, and he led the Skins to their only preseason win two weeks ago against Pittsburgh. He hasn’t had as much playing time as Brennan — he didn’t play in the losses to Baltimore and New England — but he’s used what he’s had superbly: 6 of 8 for 58 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions, with a 134.4 quarterback rating. Not bad.
“I let my work on the field do the talking,” Daniel said. “I don’t say much. I’m going to try as much as I can this next game to make it a hard decision on them.”
Brennan, on the other hand, is 13 of 29 for 166 yards,
one touchdown, three interceptions and a 35.2 rating, playing against the Ravens and Patriots. He gave up that dreadful interception for a 99-yard touchdown return against New England last week, although he did rebound to get his first touchdown of the preseason.
But one touchdown and three interceptions is not what the Skins were looking for in a guy they hoped would challenge Todd Collins for the No. 2 job.
“I’m trying to figure out whether it was Todd who just put the stops on everything and just said, ‘Uh uh, this is my position,’ or it was Colt not rising up,” coach Jim Zorn said. “I thought it was going to happen in minicamp and OTAs. But I’m not disappointed in where I see him right now; I just want him to continue to rise up and continue to improve. Some of the things he did in the game were outstanding, the touchdown pass was outstanding, but the week before Chase had the same types of plays. It’s kind of a mixed bag for both those guys.”
Of course there is one last chance for both: Thursday night against Jacksonville. Jason Campbell will start, but the bulk of the time will be divided between Brennan and Daniel. How much each gets, and how he uses it, will go a long way toward Zorn’s final decision. If Daniel performs as he did against the Steelers, and Brennan throws another pick, who knows?
“I’ve just got to go out here and try to stay as loose as possible,” Daniel said. “I know this is a big deal, but once the game starts, I’ll just get into the game and not even think about it.”
Daniel knows it’s an uphill fight, to unseat an incumbent on the roster. Daniel is a rookie. He’s listed at 225 and a generous 6 feet. He’s had less time getting to know the receivers and the playbook — although again, Daniel looks comfortable running the offense. He’s a quick study, for a Missou ... Nope, not going to take the easy shot.
After all, I may already have done irreparable damage to his career just by endorsing him. I wrote that the Washington Nationals should keep Manny Acta — and they fired him. I wrote that Nyjer Morgan was the straw that stirs the Nationals’ drink — and he broke his hand. I haven’t exactly been anyone’s rabbit’s foot so far this summer.
So hold on here: I can go with my gut, pick the Missouri kid, and jinx him at the same time?
That put the tattoo fire right out.