Which Chiefs QB Gets The Axe: Chase Daniel, Aaron Murray or Tyler Bray?
By Brett Gering
Sep 14, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) and quarterback Chase Daniel (10) talk with head coach Andy Reid during the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Two camps reside in the Kansas City Chiefs fanbase: Alex Smith adorers and Alex Smith detractors. And within said wings, there are factions, and each is stamped with the name of Chase Daniel, Aaron Murray or Tyler Bray.
Personally, I think the “Who stays? Who goes?” debate is anything but. That being said, I thought the same last year prior to Bray’s “convenient” IR designation.
If you’re a Mizzou supporter, I get it. Daniel was a demigod on campus, and in both of his outings versus San Diego, he put the Chiefs in position to win. If he had attended Kansas or Kansas State, their respective alumni would have delusional outliers as well.
Let’s not get crazy, though. If you juxtapose his stats versus the Chargers with those of Smith, it’s clear that Daniel isn’t the answer to any fantasies.
Murray and Bray are different stories. Both left their marks in the SEC, yet on the field and off, they couldn’t be different.
In terms of skill sets, the former’s is more Smith; the latter’s is more Jay Cutler. That’s not to say their careers will rival those of the vets, but their strengths and weaknesses are similar.
Since everyone more or less knows what to expect from Daniel, let’s fast-forward and revisit the games of Murray and Bray.
Aug 17, 2014; Charlotte, NC, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Aaron Murray (7) reacts after throwing a touchdown pass during the third quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
By all accounts, Murray is a student of the game. And in some ways, he’s even a teacher; the man handed out leadership surveys to Georgia teammates and coaches, asking for feedback in return.
On the field, he touts a quick release and underrated arm strength, though his passes aren’t going to zing through tight windows on a regular basis. He operated a pro-style offense in college, aiding in his transition to the NFL. And he can dissect defenses as well as anyone in the 2013 quarterback class.
Murray is also a pinpoint passer who can (accurately) throw on the run. He has sound mechanics, keen pocket awareness and his deep ball is severely underrated.
His frame headlines the list of weaknesses. At 6’1”, 210 pounds, Murray’s size is comparable to Drew Brees and Russell Wilson. (He’s slightly taller than Daniel but weighs 15 pounds fewer.)
That being the case, he needs a solid offensive line. Murray, over the course of a 16-game season, isn’t going to withstand the maulings that Smith endured in 2014. Similarly, his size will also be blamed for batted passes.
At times, pressure will dictate his decision-making, leading to errors that he otherwise wouldn’t make. And in regard to big games, his poise has been doubted in the past, though Murray began silencing silencing the criticism as a senior (prior to his ACL tear).
Aug 7, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Tyler Bray (9) signals at the line during the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 41 – 39. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Bray will be as good (or bad) as his maturity allows.
Let’s start with this: Since 2008, only one quarterback at the NFL combine, Logan Thomas (60 mph), has winged a pass at a greater velocity than Bray (59 mph).
That alone will win over its fair share of fans. Tangibles are obvious; intangibles aren’t. And on the screen, Bray’s physical talents roar (in terms of arm strength, at least).
He stands at 6’6”, 215 pounds (two inches taller and two pounds lighter than Smith) and slings a tight spiral.
Before the snap, he occasionally identified blitzes. And after the snap, he, from time to time, toted a pump fake that often paid dividends.
But while the scouting consensus pegged him as a third- to fifth-round pick, the gunslinger joined the outskirts of the undrafted due to his immaturity. Plus, after losing his two biggest playmakers, he forewent his senior season and declared for the draft prematurely.
Bray’s mechanics tend to regress when pressured, and he doesn’t cycle through progressions as quickly as most would like. His accuracy also waffles between spot-on and wild.
If he hopes to operate Andy Reid’s offense, his preparation needs to improve as well.
All in all, if Bray evolves off the field, he has the tools to become a household name. And judging by Reid’s reaction, per NBC’s Paul Burmeister, he’s off to a promising start.
Jan 14, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey speaks during the press conference announcing his hiring at the University of Kansas Hospital Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
When talking about Daniel, this is the elephant in the room.
If everything goes as planned, Bray is due $588,334 next season. (Side note: Since he was an undrafted free agent, Bray becomes a restricted free agent in 2016.)
Murray, meanwhile, is due $563,606 and locked down until 2018.
Daniel is owed $4.8 million and entering the last year of his contract. If the Chiefs, who are just below the cap ceiling, release the veteran, the move will free up $3.8 million.
Considering Justin Houston and Rodney Hudson are two must-sign free agents, nonessential personnel, particularly those with fat pockets, won’t sleep well this offseason.
However, unlike Bray and Murray, Daniel has at least proven that he can hold his own against starting-caliber defenses.
If you’re John Dorsey, who gets the pink slip?