Indianapolis Colts fans might see plenty of Jacob Eason during the 2021 season. Those who watched the New England Patriots constantly lose during the the pre-Tom Brady era might get a sense of deja vu if they stumble upon Colts games this year — and that’s not a negative indictment on the Colts’ second-year quarterback.
Decades ago, the Patriots selected a quarterback named Tony Eason in the 1983 NFL Draft. Colts fans should hope their Eason era — if it ever begins — is longer and more productive than what the Patriots went through in the 1980s.
Jacob Eason’s father is a different Tony Eason
All “is X related to Y” stories have either a yes or no answer, and it’s no different here. Jacob Eason is not related to Tony Eason, the former NFL quarterback, in any way.
Here is where things become slightly humerous. Jacob’s father is also named Tony, and he also played college football. The ex-Patriots quarterback played his college football at Illinois in the early 1980s before he reached the NFL. Tony Eason, Jacob’s father, played receiver at Notre Dame in the mid-80s.
The Tony who later fathered an NFL quarterback appeared in 20 of the Fighting Irish’s 22 games from 1985-86 and recorded 15 receptions for 254 yards and a touchdown in that span. However, he suffered a knee injury ahead of the 1987 season and didn’t play another down for the Irish.
The older Eason had an inconsistent career for the Patriots
Alright, maybe that’s a bit harsh. In seven seasons with the Patriots, he completed 58.4% of his passes in the regular season for 10,732 yards, 60 touchdowns, and 48 interceptions. Those weren’t great numbers, but NFL teams have seen far worse performances over the years. Just ask the Cleveland Browns.
Eason looked like a future star when he threw for 3,228 yards, 23 touchdowns, and eight interceptions as a sophomore in 1984. However, he took a massive step back and threw 17 interceptions against 11 touchdowns the next season. He at least bounced back in the postseason, completing 60.4% of his passes for 367 yards and five touchdowns in four playoff games.
Of course, you know what happened to close the 1985 NFL campaign. Walter Payton and the Bears went 15-1 in the regular season and routed those Patriots, 46-10, in Super Bowl 20.
Eason went 10-4 as the Patriots’ starter in 1986 and lost to John Elway’s Denver Broncos in the AFC Divisional Round. That’s where the good times ended, though, and the veteran quarterback struggled to stay healthy over the next few years. He threw his final NFL pass as a member of the New York Jets on Dec. 30, 1990.
The younger Eason has played his way up the Colts’ depth chart
Nearly 30 years to the day after one Eason left the NFL, another one entered. The Colts selected Jacob, a former five-star recruit who finished his career at the University of Washington, in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
The younger Eason didn’t play a single snap as a rookie. However, he clinched the Colts’ backup quarterback job in camp after Sam Ehlinger, a sixth-round pick from Texas, suffered a knee injury. The second-year quarterback helped his own cause by completing 66.1% of his passes for 389 yards, no touchdowns, and no interceptions in three games and two starts.
Carson Wentz, the Colts’ prized offseason acquisition from the Philadelphia Eagles, has struggled to stay healthy in recent years. Don’t be surprised if you see Eason eventually take over as the franchise’s starting quarterback if the Wentz experiment doesn’t work out.
If the second-year quarterback is lucky, he’ll join the other Eason in starting a Super Bowl one day. We’ll all understand if the Colts quarterback hopes for a different result in the box score, however.