The main focus of the second Los Angeles Chargers preseason game – which was a loss to the San Francisco 49ers 15-10 – seemed to be the battle for the backup quarterback spot between Chase Daniel and Easton Stick. Stick got the start for this game, and despite an iffy start, he ultimately had a good game which was capped by one of the best plays of the preseason. Initially, it seemed like the backup job was Daniel’s to lose in part because of his veteran status, but that may not be the case anymore.
Easton Stick Makes Case for Los Angeles Chargers Backup Quarterback Job
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Easton Stick has been buried on the depth chart so far with the team. He was drafted in 2019, but this is the first season he has had much of a chance to fight for the main backup quarterback spot. First, he was stuck behind Philip Rivers and Tyrod Taylor, and then behind Justin Herbert and Taylor.
It did not help matters that there was no preseason in 2020 and thus Stick virtually lost a year of competition, but given how all-in former Chargers coach Anthony Lynn was on Taylor, he never had much of a chance. Not that he was ever competing for a starting job (not with Rivers and Herbert as franchise quarterbacks), but 2021 is really the first year that he has had a proper chance at the main backup quarterback spot.
With Herbert not to be playing this preseason (to protect him from injury), the Chargers preseason has gone to Stick and Chase Daniel – and Stick got the start in Week 2. At first, he started rather iffy and looked a bit erratic as a passer; though it was probably not helping that virtually none of the offensive line starters were playing either. However, he did show some good running talent early on, making a couple of quick runs for good gains and showing nice speed.
However, Stick began to get things together as the game went on. After a penalty that put them on the goal line, he made what was easily the play of the game when he rolled out to the right, presumably planning on running in for the score. However, the 49ers defenders came for him so he kept rolling towards the sideline, stopping at the last second to throw back into the end zone where Josh Palmer had gotten himself open. Amusingly, the play was compared to the 49ers own “The Catch” play, though Palmer’s catch was certainly not as prolific.
Seemingly having built up confidence after that touchdown (which was the lone one of the game for the Chargers), he made another excellent throw on the next drive, throwing an excellent deep spiral to Jalen Guyton for 39 yards. The drive was later capped off with a field goal.
Stick finished going 10-for-14 yards, 85 yards, and a touchdown along with three carries for 15 yards. Not an outstanding night, but an overall good one capped by a couple of excellent plays. All of which was better than the night Chase Daniel had.
Daniel went 14-for-21, but only for 60 yards, giving way to an extremely low average of 2.9 yards per pass. He also threw a quite ugly interception, which is uncharacteristic for him as he is usually not particularly turnover-prone. But in general, Daniel was way too passive with the football and never really pushed it up the field. Again, being stuck behind an offensive line of second and third-stringers probably did not help matters, but you would think a veteran quarterback would stand a better chance of managing a situation like that than a still relatively green one like Stick.
Concluding Thoughts on Easton Stick and the Backup Job
Ultimately, Daniel is a very serviceable veteran backup. But we also know what to expect from him at this point. Like a couple of the quarterbacks he has backed up, he is more of a game manager. Stick may not be the greatest passer overall, but he has the upside as shown on the touchdown throw and the deep pass to Guyton. And he has the running ability to give him some utility, which Daniel does not.
Of course, hopefully nothing will happen to Herbert and the debate over Daniel vs Stick will mean nothing in the grand scheme. But given a clear chance, Stick ultimately succeeded in this preseason game – and Daniel did not. There is still one more preseason game to go and we will almost certainly see more of Stick there as well. But the events of this game are quite likely to give Stick a leg up in the race for the backup quarterback spot.
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