On Doug Flutie, Chris Meidt and Chase Daniel
When Chris Meidt was a teenage football star, his idol was Doug Flutie. Posters of the Boston College star covered Meidt's walls. And when people asked how he could possibly be a successful quarterback at 5-foot-10, Meidt would point to Flutie's example.
"Flutie was kind of the rage at the time, so he was kind of my guy," the Skins offensive assistant said this week. "I'd say, 'There's another little guy out there getting it done.' And that was kind of the comparison all the time."
Like Flutie, Meidt was a scrambler and an improviser, and like Flutie, Meidt got it done. He quarterbacked his high school to two state championships, won the a Minnesota state player of the year award from the AP, and remains second in career passing yards and completions and first in touchdown passes in state prep history.
Now, does the fact that Meidt succeeded in high school as an undersized quarterback mean he's partial to smaller stature guys as an offensive assistant with the Redskins? No, not at all. But, at a minimum, he doesn't disqualify them because of their measurements. So when Jim Zorn told Meidt to rank the top college quarterbacks who wouldn't be drafted this spring, Meidt's 20-man list had the 6-foot Chase Daniel on top.
"I talked to some guys, they said, 'Ah, no way, he can't play, he doesn't have an arm,' " Meidt recalled. "I'm like, he's got a great arm. Watch film. 'Nah, he can't throw, he's only [6-feet].' Watch film. I mean, the film doesn't lie. He's got arm strength, he's got a quick release, he's accurate. That's what film showed."
So somewhere around the fifth round of the draft, Zorn asked Meidt about his list. The assistant said Daniel was ranked first. "Go get him," Zorn said. Which helps explain why Daniel was on the field at all last Saturday night.
"I really felt when you looked at it, he was the best guy out there, because of all the things people saw the other day: he's a great leader, he's smart, he studies, he'll take charge of a football team, he'll drive em down the field," Meidt said. "So I think maybe I was more open to seeing it. I think some people, because of his height, weren't even open to seeing the fact that yeah, he does have a great release, yeah, he is smart, yeah, he does have a strong arm."
The height issue has been raised repeatedly this week, since Daniel starred against the Steelers. Meidt was the man at the combine, standing next to the barefoot Daniel when he came in at 6 feet 0.00 inches. Both he and Jim Zorn have said they've never discussed size with Daniel, and that the issue only comes up when the media asks.
"I mean, Drew Brees is still six foot, I don't think he's growing," Meidt said. "But he's put up numbers, he's produced, so people just, 'Oh, ok.' They don't care. But here, it's kind of an anomaly. You have monstrous Jason, and so all of the sudden that becomes a topic on why a guy CAN'T [succeed]. Jim's right, he's never brought it up, because why would he? You can't change it. We're gonna bring up footwork, we're gonna bring up mechanics, we're gonna bring up ball location, because those are things we can correct and change. Height is just what you are, it's what God made you."
But Meidt said the mechanical instructions don't change based on a QB's height, that the things he and Zorn work with Campbell on are the same things they discuss with Daniel. Taller quarterbacks don't throw the ball over linemen; the biggest difference, Meidt said, is in seeing the passing lanes; "that's really all it is, you can see a little bit better," he said. That's same the issue he faced while coaching at St. Olaf, where he attracted talented but height-challenged quarterbacks who played in front of taller linemen.
Incidentally, I asked Meidt whether he's ever met or chatted with Flutie. Not yet, was the answer.
"I'd love to," Meidt said. "That's who made me think I could play."
(I see in comments below a reference to Theismann. Meidt went there, too. "D.C. knows of young guys who are short and can lead a team," he said with a smile.")
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