Barring a Carson Wentz injury, the Indianapolis Colts were likely going to roll into the preseason feeling confident under center, with the former Eagles quarterback as the starter, 2020 fourth-round pick Jacob Eason as the backup, and 2021 sixth-rounder Sam Ehlinger right behind him as the No. 3 signal-caller.
Eason brings with him some high expectations coming into this season, as a year spent without a true offseason program and minimal practice time is not the best situation in which to evaluate a young quarterback. The ex-Georgia Bulldog might need to convert some of his potential into tangible results sooner than we anticipated when the week began.
Wentz ended up on the injury report in concerning fashion on Friday, as a foot injury he suffered at the end of practice on Thursday will reportedly keep him out indefinitely and en route to a foot specialist. In the immediate aftermath, Eason was given the starter reps with Ehlinger serving as the backup.
This is why Eason got picked in the fourth round. If the starter is incapacitated for the foreseeable future, he needs to play well enough to guide the Colts to wins. Wentz is the franchise guy, but Eason can prove he is a quality backup by performing well while Wentz is on the mend.
Can Jacob Eason play well for the Colts?
Purely based on his physical tools, Eason looks not only like a first-round prospect, but someone who could’ve gone No. 1 overall. A gargantuan quarterback at 6-6 and 231 pounds, Eason’s arm strength is up there with any prospect in the last few years. Throwing the ball 60 yards on a line is nothing to him.
His arm strength and surprising athletic ability, which allows him to make plays on the run, are positives, but his tape at Washington was littered with erratic throws. The accuracy issues are painful at times, as even protected throws to open receivers can be airmailed. Simply put, that needs to change.
Eason will end up in an offense designed by a former quarterback in Frank Reich and a coach in Marcus Brady who helped Ricky Ray break records in the CFL. If they can get the ball out of Eason’s hands quickly in camp, his arm talent could help him make enough plays to win.
If the inability to put touch on the ball over the middle or consistently go through his progressions continues to pop up, it’s time to start worrying, though.
The Colts have a legitimate challenger for his spot in Ehlinger. Every mistake Eason makes, be it indecision, inaccuracy, or anything in between, could come back to haunt him. However, if Eason shows that he has taken steps in the right direction, Indy’s Wentz-less spell might not be so tough to sit through.
According to the latest reports, Wentz is only expected to miss a few games maximum as the season begins. Indianapolis fans better hope their talented quarterback shows discernible progress in the interim, because this franchise cannot afford a slow start.