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Consulting the Chart: 2019 Quarterback and Offensive Line Review

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Using game charting data to assess the performance of both Jacob Eason and the O-line

Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl - Washington v Boise State Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

So far I haven’t combined any position groups during this series but I’m doing so this edition by covering both the quarterbacks and offensive line. There are two reasons for this. One, there’s only one quarterback who saw actual playing time this season. Jacob Sirmon got a couple of garbage time snaps but not to the point that I can seriously evaluate his performance which means it’s all about Jacob Eason.

Two, my game charting stats for individual offensive linemen are the least extensive of any position so I won’t go quite as into depth into each player’s performance. If you’re catching up on the series check out the previous entries for running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends.

2018 vs. 2019 UW Quarterback Statistics

Player Completions Attempts Comp % Yards YPA TD INT Pass Rate Adj Comp % Adj Pass Rate
Player Completions Attempts Comp % Yards YPA TD INT Pass Rate Adj Comp % Adj Pass Rate
Jacob Eason 2019 260 405 64.20% 3132 7.73 23 8 143.9 72.29% 157.8
Jake Browning 2018 252 388 64.95% 3188 8.22 16 10 142.4 72.53% 159.09

From a pure efficiency standpoint the passing attack led for 4 seasons by Jake Browning was among the best in Washington history. The Huskies averaged at least 8.0 yards per attempt in each of those years despite Browning’s physical limitations. With Jacob Eason and his rocket launcher of an arm at the helm many fans hoped to see at least a more explosive offense if not also a more efficient one.

Eason finished the year putting up nearly identical completion percentage and passing yardage numbers as 2018 Jake Browning on a few more attempts while ending up with more touchdowns and fewer interceptions. It was a nearly identical season and advanced stats don’t do a lot to separate the performances by each.

In the table above, adjusted completion percentage gives credit for a completion for every dropped pass and removes throwaways from the total attempts. Adjusted passer rating does the same thing and assumes that the offense gains the yardage from the point where the ball was dropped by the receiver. In most cases the receiver probably gains more than that but there’s no way to know how much further they could have gone so that’s the conservative way to do things. In both cases once again the Eason and Browning seasons were nearly identical when trying to remove some of the variables outside of the QB’s control.

If you break out Jacob Eason’s incompletions by type he had: 68 inaccurate throws, 30 passes broken up, 27 drops, 8 interceptions, 8 throwaways, and 3 balls tipped at the line. Obviously some of the pass breakups and interceptions were because of inaccurate throws but some of them were also just due to poor decisions or a fantastic play by the defender. There were a few other throws which I felt warranted being tagged as inaccurate even though the receiver was able to get at least one hand on it.

There is some overlap in how I could categorize the specific way in which the QB was inaccurate but if a receiver was running horizontally then a throw could be either in front of or behind them, if running vertically then too deep or too short, and no matter what the ball could be either too high or too low. Eason’s inaccurate throws were almost perfectly distributed. He threw it too deep, too high, and too far in front of his receiver exactly 17 times apiece.

It’s not in the least bit surprising to find out that Eason struggled with touch on his deep ball. He threw it too deep on 10 of 24 pass attempts that traveled at least 31 yards in the air. It may be surprising for some but that’s fairly similar once again to Browning in 2018. However Eason also threw 6 balls that were too high for his receiver and still passed over their head at least 20 yards down field. It wasn’t an issue to the same degree as Jake Locker but the ability to sail a pass on a 25 yard out is another indicator of Eason’s arm strength.

Jacob Eason 2019 Passing Chart

Air Yards Left Center Right Total
Air Yards Left Center Right Total
21+ Yards 9.9 YPA, 0 TD, 0 INT, 30.0% 16.6 YPA, 2 TD, 0 INT, 35.7% 9.0 YPA, 3 TD, 2 INT, 28.5% 10.9 YPA, 5 TD, 2 INT, 30.6%
11-20 Yards 10.3 YPA, 2 TD, 1 INT, 55.5% 14.2 YPA, 3 TD, 1 INT, 60.0% 6.9 YPA, 3 TD, 1 INT, 40.0% 10.7 YPA, 8 TD, 3 INT, 53.0%
1-10 Yards 7.1 YPA, 4 TD, 1 INT, 67.6% 7.6 YPA, 2 TD, 1 INT, 73.7% 5.7 YPA, 2 TD, 1 INT, 65.6% 6.8 YPA, 8 TD, 3 INT, 69.3%
At/Behind LOS 3.0 YPA, 0 TD, 0 INT, 84.6% 0.8 YPA, 0 TD, 0 INT, 75% 5.9 YPA, 2 TD, 0 INT, 86.6% 4.6 YPA, 2 TD, 0 INT, 85.3%
Total 7.5 YPA, 6 TD, 2 INT, 64.4% 10.0 YPA, 7 TD, 2 INT, 68.1% 6.9 YPA, 10 TD, 4 INT, 65.5% 7.7 YPA, 23 TD, 8 INT, 64.2%

If you’re having trouble reading the table above, except for “total” it should look as if you’re looking upfield from the QB’s perspective. The top left cell contains the stats for throws that went to the left and 21+ yards downfield. The totals allow you to see the added together values for that range. The top right cell contains the stats for all throws 21+ yards downfield and the bottom right cell contains all stats period. Some of the numbers may not completely add up with the total in the bottom right because I remove passes tipped at the line and throwaways from each of the individual zones.

Husky fans have often lamented that the Chris Petersen offense didn’t throw to the middle of the field enough and these numbers would seem to validate that stance. The overall numbers in the center of the field are inflated slightly because screen passes which the team was generally terrible at are essentially never thrown in the center. But in every other section of the field, Eason had a higher yards per attempt throwing there compared to toward the sidelines.

As I just noted, the offense was extremely inefficient on throws behind the line of scrimmage this season. That is likely more attributable to the receivers than Eason since it’s hard to argue he couldn’t get the ball out fast enough. The 4.6 yards per attempt figure is about 2.0 lower than last season and the likeliest explanation is the fall off of Andre Baccellia who only picked up 3.2 yards per reception behind the line of scrimmage in 2019.

2019 UW Pass Pressure Statistics

QB Sacks Sack Yds Lost % of Sacks Blitzed % of Dropbacks Pressured % of Dropbacks Blitzed Pass Rate Under Pressure Pass Rate when Blitzed
QB Sacks Sack Yds Lost % of Sacks Blitzed % of Dropbacks Pressured % of Dropbacks Blitzed Pass Rate Under Pressure Pass Rate when Blitzed
Jacob Eason 21 147 33.33% 17.47% 27.61% 24.41 135.3

You didn’t need to watch much of Jacob Eason this past season to know that he did not handle pressure well. When Eason dropped back to pass he averaged 8.34 yards per play with no pressure and 1.04 yards with pressure. Eason’s arm strength allowed him to fit balls into seemingly impossible windows when the opponent dropped 7 or 8 into a zone and the pass rush couldn’t fluster him. But if it got close then Eason often tried to bail out backwards from the pocket rather than stepping up which doomed the play.

Eason was also prone to leaving the pocket before he had to which put him into unnecessary pressure. I attributed 11 of the 70 total pressures on Eason this season to the QB himself either for holding onto it too long or moving into the teeth of the pressure. Given all of that it’s a little surprising that teams didn’t blitz Eason more frequently. The 27.6% blitzed rate is about 10% less than last season. Then again, Eason’s passer rating was only a little bit worse when blitzed compared to overall.

Before the season started I thought the Eason QB sneak running behind Nick Harris would be nearly unstoppable. It was not quite Tom Brady levels of good but the sneak ended up being a pretty solid option in short yardage situations. Eason converted a 1st down or TD on 12/16 QB sneaks and one of the times he didn’t is when they ran it on 1st and 10 because they were pinned back on their own 1 yard line. 2 of the other 3 times came on 3rd down in games that the Huskies would end up losing (against Cal and Utah).

2019 UW Offensive Line Statistics

Player Snaps Pressures Allowed Tackles for Loss (Runs) Allowed Pre-Snap Penalties During Play Penalties % Negative Play per Snap
Player Snaps Pressures Allowed Tackles for Loss (Runs) Allowed Pre-Snap Penalties During Play Penalties % Negative Play per Snap
Luke Wattenberg 890 10 4 3 3 2.25%
Jared Hilbers 876 9 8 0 2 2.17%
Trey Adams 807 14 3 2 2 2.60%
Nick Harris 757 4 0 0 2 0.79%
Jaxson Kirkland 644 4 0 3 2 1.40%
Henry Bainivalu 256 4 4 1 1 3.91%
Matteo Mele 147 4 1 0 0 3.40%
Victor Curne 71 1 0 0 0 1.41%
Henry Roberts 63 2 1 0 0 4.76%
M.J Ale 14 0 0 0 0 0.00%
Check out Max’s full breakdown of the 2019 OL advanced statistics

I’ll be honest with you. I’m not an offensive line expert. I did not grade out every single lineman on every single play throughout the entire season. That was more work than I had time for. However, I did assign blame to one player on every pressure and every tackle for loss. Sometimes multiple players could deserve blame on a given sack. Sometimes a lineman blew an assignment which caused someone else to try to cover up for them and make it look like that player was the guilty party. I’m not going to claim 100% accuracy here but it’s the best way I have to try to judge effectiveness.

For the most part I think the results confirm what my eyes told me. When Nick Harris was in the game he was an all-conference player and lived up to the billing of a 4-year starter. Jaxson Kirkland is just a redshirt sophomore but he was a steadying force at the right guard spot and with another standout season could be a potential early entrant to the 2021 NFL Draft. Right guard Luke Wattenberg played the most snaps of any Husky offensive player and while he had his fair share of errors over the course of the season his per snap negative play rate doesn’t look quite as bad.

The tackle duo of Trey Adams and Jared Hilbers were supposed to be one of the big strengths of this UW team but Adams did not play like a guy that was viewed at one time as a top-ten overall draft pick but instead like someone that missed most of the last 2 years due to injury. Adams wasn’t alone in this regard but his inability to block Utah’s Bradlee Anae was a determining factor in UW’s loss as Adams allowed 5 pressures in the second half to Anae coming off the edge. Hilbers held up a little better in pass protection but to my eye was the biggest culprit along the line in giving up quick penetration on run plays.

Washington will have to replace three seniors along the line in 2020 and the early favorites to take those spots will be Henry Bainivalu, Matteo Mele, and Victor Curne who were the primary three backups this season. Mele and Bainvalu each had significant struggles in pass protection while Bainivalu had some all-around issues. If you’re looking for an encouraging sign it’s that he only had one negative play across 69 snaps in the bowl game against Boise State. It’s also unlikely he sees any playing time this upcoming year at right guard unless Jaxson Kirkland gets moved to a different position.