Sup bitches, it’s back.
I don’t know which year we’re on for this God-forsaken column, is it four? Whatever. However old this thing is, the answer is “old enough where I’m too jaded to write intros.”
Which is great for you, because reading intros is the only thing worse than writing them. So, here’s some thoughts:
A 100% Accurate and 79% Sober Rundown of Everything
First things first: I feel like I can’t provide insight into Jacob Eason’s game, simply because we’ve all been talking about that ad nauseam since about 3:12 on Saturday. At this point is there anything anyone can say that hasn’t been said already? And yet...
I can’t stop thinking about how pretty his throws are. Even that first screen pass — a play which has not once inspired a sonnet of admiration — just looked different. Don’t get me started on the bombs*.
But, even with that considered, those are all things we knew to expect. Everything else fans had been waiting for with his quarterback-ing — accuracy, anticipation, playbook readiness, etc. — were subject to a combination of conjecture, projection, and hope. Which (read this in Jeff Daniels’ voice from Dumb and Dumber) he came back and totally satisfied all our hopes and dreams. I know I’m not adding anything here; per Twitter and most of the media, this is the takeaway we all have. I just figured, since it’s my first thought, it wouldn’t hurt to emphasize once more.
This feels especially significant since the question this offseason had been framed as “How does Jacob Eason look after two years off?” To me, while that was a completely valid question that I was wondering too, the one that was neglected was “How does Jacob Eason look when he has — for the first time in his career — more than 7-9 months in a program?” In that way, it makes sense that he would play as well as he did. Assuming we don’t count the first game of 2017 where he played one quarter before getting injured (or the garbage time hand-offs the end of that season), this was the first time Jacob Eason had ever played meaningful football without being hindered by: only being in the offense for a few months, adjusting to the speed of college ball, adjusting to a college program at all, living on his own for the first time ever, etc. Not to mention the horrendous offensive circumstances — Nick Chubb and Sony Michel notwithstanding — around him that was Georgia in 2016.
In other words, even if it was against an FCS team**: this all makes sense.
*Once, while going from Vancouver to Seattle, I had a border guard who was so good-looking I forgot all my answers to his questions, like “What were you doing in Canada?” and “Do you have pot in your car?” (Answers: “Ummmmmmmm...?” and “If I do, it’s news to me.”) His preposterously beautiful face has nothing on Eason’s bomb to Baccellia.
**Albeit an FCS team that would beat many FBS teams #Respect
Behind Eason, the potential productivity for a combo of Richard Newton and Salvon Ahmed can best be described as “Yes please.” That being said, I’m very much not a fan that the offensive line didn’t dominate in run blocking, especially given that even Washington’s smallest offensive lineman had a 20 lb advantage on Eastern’s biggest defensive tackle. Upon rewatch, a lot of that was on Wattenberg at left guard, which particularly stinks since that’s the same story as last year. The same can be said for a few pressures on Eason.
Okay, back to the running backs. First off, before the season’s over we’re gonna see Richard Newton end someone’s life but, like, in a fun way. It’s gonna rule. Second-of-ly, it stank to not see Ahmed break off an explosive play. It also made sense, given the aforementioned lack of dominance from the interior left of the offensive line combined with the fact that Ahmed’s instinctive athleticism has always come before any highly-developed vision.
That being said, don’t conflate “it made sense” with “it’s fine.” Just because I’m not shocked by the result of Saturday doesn’t mean I’m feeling cool with it.
What I am feeling fine about, is the fact that — if a historian can confirm this, go for it — I’m pretty sure the last time Washington’s run game started the season off strong, people were still straightening their hair with clothing irons. Whether that extends to Ahmed potentially improving his patience and vision, who knows. But there’s precedent to have faith in the unit overall.
Regardless of whether Ahmed continues to be the definitive #1 back or if, as the season goes on, Ahmed and Newton turn into a 1A and 1B situation, the combination of those two has the potential to make opposing defenses look like Belgium circa 1914. (Too soon?)
Other than the receivers, which I don’t have enough unique thoughts on to justify wasting your time writing them, my last impression on the offense was simply: Hunter Bryant blasted a few opponents back to the Snake River, which... just... holy Jesus H. That was supposed to be the one thing about him that was mediocre. If he maintains that, what can’t he do? Next we’re gonna find out he’s a skilled cartographer who cures his own spiced meats and restores old radios in his spare time.
On to the defense. Ya know what, fun fact: Did you know that Washington lost more starters from 2018’s defense than there are galaxies in the universe?
This is a rhetorical question, because obviously you did, because that was the only thing we’ve heard the last nine months, because everyone knows you can’t possibly be a half-functioning defense when you have a bunch of guys go pro in one year. (See also: if you return a bunch of starters, there is no other outcome other than your team will go undefeated and definitely, definitely win a national championship.)
This pretty much went exactly as I thought: the defense mostly kept doing what they do, with a few moments of growing pains from young players like that long touchdown play where Cam Williams took himself and Keith Taylor out of the play with a poor angle. (Which, otherwise, Cam looked pretty dang good all things considered.)
Speaking of the secondary, I swear to the almighty Doug from Calgary that I would trust Elijah Molden with my life.
In front of them, the linebackers are also pretty much what we were thinking they’d be: juuuust hanging on by a thread while we desperately hope the young guys step up fast. By my calculation, said young players looked okay, not great. Like a cold ham and cheese sandwich. But at least MJ Tafisi hit like he was attempting to recreate the Battle of Thermopylae, and Jackson Sirmon has great fashion sense and didn’t totally suck — the ol’ double deuce.
What was a bit surprising was how much of a non-factor Brandon Wellington was. He had all of two tackles and was just... nowhere. In other words, he had less tackles than even the casual-est tailgaters had drinks on Saturday. Kyler Manu had a better showing than Wellington (and my expectations), but was still a step slow and not super disciplined with position on many of Eastern’s runs.
Which all comes back to what I was feeling going into this year: Washington needs it’s redshirt freshmen linebackers to work their way into being starters, preferably sooner rather than later.
Up front, Benning’s move to the inside feels so natural and beneficial both to the line and himself. Just in general, between him and Onwuzurike, Bronson being a proficient role-player, and Taki and Tuli, this line feels very dependable. And I hate using the word “very.” And while it’s not like the interior line and outside linebackers were wreaking nuts-o havoc every play — plus they lost contain way more times than is comfortable with a quarterback like Eric Barriere — they looked more consistent and better at collapsing the pocket as a unit than most of last year.
Oh, also, Ryan Bowman, if you’re reading this: you’re great and we love you but please stop charging down dual-threat quarterbacks. In the words of the great Regina George: it’s not gonna happen.
Oh, also also: Tim Horn is my hero for being able to hit touchbacks.
And also also also (this is the last one I swear): Ya girl has now completed the “Meeting Dubses in unexpected places” tour after hanging out with Dubs I on Saturday and hoo man is he the goodest boi ever.
Proof, for when Rhaego doubts the validity of the above statement:
Lines of the Week
All of us watching Eason’s touchdown pass to Baccellia:
And all of us when Richard Newton pwns fools:
And, lastly, me bragging to everyone about meeting Dubs until they disown me:
Do good things, don’t do bad things, and bow down to Washington.