Colts: Jacob Eason barely outperforms Sam Ehlinger in preseason opener

Aug 15, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacob Eason (9) Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 15, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacob Eason (9) Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

With Carson Wentz on the mend, the eyes of almost the entire Indianapolis Colts fanbase were fixated on Jacob Eason and Sam Ehlinger in their preseason debut against the Carolina Panthers. While Ehlinger’s mobility and playmaking are impressive, Eason’s stronger arm could lead to him earning the QB2 spot behind Wentz.

Eason played the entire first half against the Panthers, while Ehlinger came in to relieve him during the second half. While there is still plenty of time before Reich has to make a decision, Eason looked like the better passer when compared to Ehlinger despite the latter mounting a furious comeback.

While Eason didn’t throw a touchdown pass, he completed 15 of his 21 passes for 183 yards despite some drops on deeper throws from Mike Strachan and Kylen Granson. Eason did lose a fumble via a strip-sack, but the offensive line could share the blame considering how quickly Marquis Haynes blew into the backfield.

To be fair, Ehlinger did make some plays with his legs by rushing for 34 yards, and showed some solid decision-making in the pocket by completing 10 of 15 passes for 155 yards and leading a game-winning drive in the 21-18 triumph. His hookup deep down the field to Tarik Black in the fourth quarter was a beautiful pass.

However, he had a gnarly interception on his first drive, and he did play it a bit safer than Eason with regard to some of his throws. For all of Eason’s faults, his arm talent is unquestioned, and he proved how deadly that bazooka can be in this game.

Colts: Jacob Eason looked better than Sam Ehlinger.

Giving receivers a chance to make plays on 50-50 balls down the sideline shows that Eason has both NFL caliber arm strength and the touch needed to take some mustard off of the ball in order to deliver it accurately.

With this throw to Strachan, Eason is started to show that he is a bit more of a refined passer than he was at Washington.

Eason’s arm is one of the best in the league in terms of pure velocity and speed he can put on his throws. This missile to Dezmon Patmon gave Colts fans a glimpse at what he can provide.

Eason led a touchdown drive near the end of the half, completing all four of his two-minute drill passes in order to help the Colts punch it in on the strength of a Jordan Wilkins touchdown run. After some uneven moments, Eason looked like he was in complete control.

The battle is far from over, and Indy will likely have Wentz back at some point early in the season, but the Colts should be very encouraged with what they saw out of both Eason and Ehlinger, who had the right blend of aggression and comfort against the Panthers.

Eason needs to keep his foot on the gas pedal to prevent Ehlinger from catching lightning in a bottle and overtaking him. The Carolina game was a good showing for both quarterbacks, but Eason gets the edge here.