INDIANAPOLIS – Never too high. Never too low.
It’s the old coaching cliché you hear frequently around the NFL that Jacob Eason thinks most fondly of when pondering on life watching Philip Rivers operate this past season.
Win or lose, move on
Or as Rivers would put it, nunc coepi.
“His consistency, not only in his preparation, but as a leader and a vocal guy in the locker room…he was just a very consistent person, which was awesome to see,” Eason says of his biggest takeaway from being in the same position room as Rivers.
“Every day, he had the same attitude. His schedule was the same every single day. Just watching how he handled things, in the wins and losses, that’s another important thing. It’s a game about winning, but seeing how a guy like that handles a loss is another key thing. It was a very tremendous year in terms of thing.”
Unfortunately, for several reasons, Eason’s first season in the NFL never saw him play in a game. He didn’t dress for a single game. And his actual practice reps were relegated to about a handful of Wednesday sessions running the scout team late in the season, when Rivers was resting his injured note, therefore pushing Jacoby Brissett into the starting lineup.
Eason being a healthy inactive for all 16 games wasn’t a surprise. That was the expectation for him with Rivers and Brissett ahead of him.
But the pandemic leading to the cancellation of the preseason slate of games, and Eason having such a limited role in practice, did stunt the on-field development he could have gained in Year 1.
Marcus Brady, then quarterbacks coach, now offensive coordinator, was charged with trying to improve Eason, without these valuable, unscripted, parts of development.
How would Brady go about that?
“Whenever we had extra time post practice or in between meetings, or even before meetings, Jacob would come in at times and we would answer questions he had out on the field, get some extra throws, usually going through the scripts because he obviously wasn’t getting the reps in practice,” Brady explains. “Pick a period of that practice—and you can’t do this with the entire practice—of that practice and let him talk through his reads, throw that route. We had some receivers out there spotting to throw. And then sometimes we would throw routes with receivers if they had enough juice after a long practice.”
The week of work for Eason included him doing some work on the field before games, when he would then head to a suite with the other Colts not dressing for game day.
“That was pretty good,” Brady said of Eason’s pre-game work, which even caught the notice of the opponent. “He would get a lot of throws. We would rush him, so he’s moving in the pocket and getting those types of throws. We had a couple of receivers spotting up for him. Some of the plays that were in the game plan, the traditional plays we run each week, the unique footwork and different throws for him….he is forever improving, he is hungry, he is always trying to get better in the class room, he’s trying to get better on the field with his mechanics – learning the offense. It’s a shame that he was not able to get preseason work because that would’ve helped with his development, but he took advantage of what he was able to this past season. I did get to spend a lot of extra time with him and he continued to improve and I’m looking forward to how much he takes from Year One to Year Two.”
Eason will now spend a chunk of the offseason training in California, sifting through his 2020 notebook from those invaluable meetings watching Rivers, Brissett, Frank Reich, Nick Sirianni and Brady communicate.
The rookie was a sponge, he says, at those times, trying to soak in what life is like quarterbacking an NFL franchise.
As the Colts decide if they are comfortable enough with Eason as their backup for 2021, the 23-year-old says he’s not worried about those sorts of things.
“Going into the offseason, I’ve got a handful of things that I’ve written down that I want to start working on and we will go from there,” the 4th round pick says.
“I think my biggest goal is to just be as prepared as possible for whatever might happen. There’s no telling what goes on. From my perspective, just being prepared as possible for whatever the situation may be. Then when that opportunity presents itself, go take it. I’m excited to get back to Indy and attack this offseason.”