After 'Whirlwind' Week, Jacob Eason Emerges as Rare Bright Spot in Seahawks Exhibition Loss to Bears – Sports Illustrated

RENTON, Wash. – After watching his team slog through a dreadful 27-11 preseason loss to the Bears on Thursday night, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll trudged through his postgame press conference lacking his usual vigor, exuberance, and unbridled optimism. And who could blame him?
From the opening kickoff at Lumen Field, Seattle looked ill-prepared for a football game in all phases. Failing to support quarterback Geno Smith, receivers dropped passes and penalties set the offense behind the chains frequently, resulting in a first half shutout. Missed tackles piled up in bunches once again on defense, while Carroll and special teams coach Larry Izzo had to be on the verge of pulling their hair out with numerous special teams miscues helping Chicago race out to a 24-point lead.
But if there was one irrefutable positive for Carroll in an otherwise dismal exhibition contest, third-string quarterback Jacob Eason displayed plenty of moxie and poise guiding the Seahawks offense and providing a much-needed spark in the final two quarters of play.
Slinging the pigskin all over the yard in front of friends and family in attendance, albeit sometimes inaccurately, Eason's 48 percent completion rate (17 for 35, 141 yards) and 4.0 yards per attempt average don't do his performance justice. Putting his team in a position to nearly mount an improbable comeback, he led a pair of scoring drives and came an Aaron Fuller drop away from orchestrating a third one to trim the deficit to single digits late in the fourth quarter.
"I thought he did a good job. I thought he did a really good job," Carroll said of Eason's performance. "[He] was really resourceful, clear, competitive, made some big-time throws. That was a great opportunity for him playing the game. So I thought we saw a lot of good stuff."
Heading into an abbreviated game week, Eason didn't expect to see much playing time in Seattle's second preseason game. After all, with Smith and Drew Lock engaged in a two-horse competition to replace Russell Wilson, both veteran signal callers were set to receive most – if not all – of the snaps against Chicago on Thursday night. Being a distant third in the quarterback pecking order, his reps have been limited in training camp.
But as Eason put it, everything became a "whirlwind" in an already chaotic short week when Lock tested positive for COVID-19 after Tuesday's practice. Set to miss a minimum of five days in quarantine due to CDC guidelines, the former Missouri star wouldn't be able to start against the Bears as Carroll and his staff had planned all along, leaving the organization in a bit of limbo with only a walkthrough practice left before kickoff.
With Lock sidelined, Smith would make his second straight preseason start and likely play at least the first half, if not into the third quarter. Once Smith's night wrapped up, Eason was guaranteed his first extended action in a Seahawks uniform since being claimed off waivers midway through the 2021 season, presenting him with a chance to put a quality performance on film for all 32 teams.
While Eason didn't get much time or many on-field reps to prepare with Lock's positive test coming on such short notice and would have loved to get more snaps in Tuesday's practice, he took on a "good challenge" in stride, eager to prove he could perform well under adverse conditions and take advantage of the opportunity blessed to him.
“With the spot I am in, it pushes me to seek out things that are hard to do like being in this spot, not getting a lot of reps and playing in a preseason game," Eason explained after the game. "It is tough, but I think that at the end of the day, it’s going to make me better, it’s going to make me grind more on the mental side of things and really understand those things."
Checking in for Smith after halftime, Eason got off to a slow start as Seattle's offense remained painfully stagnant. Each of the first three drives helmed by the former Washington standout resulted in a three-and-out and a Michael Dickson punt, as he completed two out of four passes for 13 yards and fumbled a snap from center Kyle Fuller.
But after the Seahawks forced a three-and-out on their third defensive possession of the quarter, Eason started to get comfortable and found his groove running coordinator Shane Waldron's offense. He completed his first three pass attempts for first downs, including a perfectly thrown seam ball to 6-foot-7 tight end Colby Parkinson in tight traffic for a 20-yard gain, as he marched his team down to the Bears 19-yard line in rapid fashion.
Unfortunately, the drive stalled out inside the 10-yard line thanks to a false start against left tackle Charles Cross and a couple misfires in the red zone by Eason. Still, he completed four out of six passes for 47 yards and Seattle scored its first points of the night with a short Jason Myers field goal to trim the deficit to 24-3.
Two drives later, Eason benefited from a muffed punt return by Bears receiver Dazz Newsome, which was recovered by Seahawks linebacker Lakiem Williams. Granted excellent starting field position past midfield, he hooked up with Bo Melton on 4th and 6 for seven yards to move the chains and completed each of his ensuing three passes to advance his team inside the 10-yard line.
One play later, running back Darwin Thompson wiggled and weaved his way through the defense for an eight-yard touchdown and Eason followed up by zipping a two-point conversion throw to receiver Cade Johnson to cut the deficit to 16 with under 2:30 left to play in the game.
After the Seahawks recovered an onside kick, Eason went back to work, launching a deep ball down the left sideline to Fuller that resulted in a 28-yard pass interference penalty against Bears cornerback BoPete Keyes. After completing a first down pass to receiver Kevin Kassis, he lofted another deep ball to Fuller in the end zone and initially, the play was ruled a touchdown before officials overturned it.
Eason wasn't able to dish out any additional magic, as his final four pass attempts all fell incomplete and the Bears took over on a turnover on downs before kneeling out the clock. But while there will certainly be some throws he wishes he could have had back, the third-year quarterback showed off his arm talent and deserves props for willing his team back into the game to make things interesting down the stretch.
"Today was a huge opportunity to get a whole half of football in and go out there and chuck it around a little bit," Eason smiled. "I’m excited to go watch the tape, see what I can learn from, assess the things I did well, assess the thing I didn’t do well, and get ready for next week.”
Moving closer to the start of the regular season, Eason understands he's not in the mix to start under center for the Seahawks. Once Lock returns, he likely will start in the preseason finale against the Cowboys, while Smith will undoubtedly see reps with the second-team offense as their competition continues. If Eason does play, it won't be until late in the second half and he may only see a drive or two.
Still, the 24-year old Eason flashed enough in Thursday's defeat to warrant Seattle potentially keeping him around on the practice squad for further development and as an insurance policy in case neither Lock or Smith succeed in Wilson's stead. He also put enough quality throws on film that another team may be interested if he hits the waiver wire and take a flier on him, which is all a third-string quarterback can ask for.


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