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What the Hell is Jacob Eason? A Call to Quit the Hot Takes


 

For a guy who had a flat-out average year for a college football quarterback and a pretty good year for a true freshman college quarterback, there sure are a lot of varied opinions on Jacob Eason. He seems to either be great or awful per most fans (Georgia and otherwise), and there’s not much room for middle ground.

He’s hot take central. LeBron or MJ? Today’s Golden State Warriors or 1990s Chicago Bulls? Is Jacob Eason the next Tom Brady or is he Ryan Leaf on opiates? These are real conversations that people are having. Somehow, Eason a player who played exactly to normal expectations as a true freshman, is on one end of the extremes.

He’s excellent. Or he’s awful.

I guess if you take any snippet of his 2016 performance in isolation, you could convince yourself of anything.

  • Good: He out-played the no. 2 overall pick and the top quarterback selected in the NFL Draft during a head-to-head matchup in 2016. Eason completed passes at a higher rate, threw more TD passes and accounted for nearly three times as many yards per attempt as North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky. Oh, and this was Eason’s first college game.
  • Bad: Eason struggled mightily against some mediocre opposition. In a loss to Georgia Tech, for instance, he barely connected on 50% of his passes, threw two INTs vs. just one TD, and needed 27 passes to rack up 139 yards trough the air.
  • Good: He played well in some of Georgia’s easiest games at home. Just ask Louisiana-Lafayette, Vanderbilt and Nicholls State.
  • Bad: He struggled mightily on the road against some SEC foes. Against South Carolina and Ole Miss he connected on just 21 of 53 pass attempts for 168 yards.

But that good/bad ratio isn’t all that staggering for a true freshman playing for a first-time head coach behind an atrocious offensive line. And understand, that it’s “not all that staggering” to the positive or the negative. That is to say, you’re insane to think Eason merits Heisman consideration (one Fox Sports columnist has him one of 15 favorites for the award) and you’re equally insane to think he’s going to lose his job to incoming signal-caller Jake Fromm.

And yet, those are two of the more prevailing theories this offseason. Nowhere to be found is the notion that Eason may be, well,  pretty good and improving. Normal is not allowed for Jacob Eason. And that’s not just because expectations are so high. Again, some fans actually want Lee Fromm’s son (sup?) to start. So what should we expect from Eason in the immediate future – meaning in 2017? Here are two base cases.

 

 

Low-End Scenario: Very Modest Improvement

I really like passing efficiency as an entry-level measure of QB play. It takes into account completion percentage, yards per attempt, TD/INT ratio and everything else that is easily measured.

By that stat, Eason was below average in 2016. His passer rating was 120.2 – good enough for only 90th in the nation among players with 15 attempts per game and an appearance in at least 75% of team’s games.  That’s not very good and among 109 eligible QBs, that puts him squarely in the bottom quartile. But what’s interesting is that Eason’s outliers (on a game-by-game basis) fell much more to the downside than to the upside. You’d expect that from a true freshman in the SEC—at any position, really.

How do we see that? Well, let’s look at individual games. Eason’s season-long efficiency rating of 120.2 reflects the sum of all his attempts, completions, TDs, INTs and yards. It’s not just the average of each game’s efficiency rating. But his average single-game rating was 124.25.

If we remove Eason’s best game (185.9 rating against North Carolina) and his worst game (51.4 vs. South Carolina), his average game rating increases to 125.27. So his worst game was worse than his best game was good. This trend continues. If we remove his second-best game (165.6 vs. LA-Lafayette) and his second-worst game (70.9 vs. Mizzou), his average game output increases again to 126.83. If we remove his third-best contest (154.2 vs. TCU) and his third-worst contest (91.9 vs. Florida), his average game increases to 127.91. If we remove his fourth-best (148.4 vs. Vanderbilt) and his fourth-worst(92.5 vs. Tech), Eason’s average game efficiency increases to 130.9.

Now, this is a flawed experiment for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that removing Eason’s four best and four worst games leaves only 5 games to measure. So let’s pause this side of the experiment at removing just Eason’s three best and three worst games. This leaves us with seven of 13 total contests and something close to Eason’s Middle-50% of games. His average efficiency rating in those games was 127.91. But here’s his entire statistical line for those seven games:

  • Attempts: 232
  • Completions: 135
  • Completion Percentage: 58.2%
  • Yards: 1,661
  • Touchdowns: 9
  • Interceptions: 5
  • Total Efficiency Rating: 126.82

I think it’s reasonable to assume that the most-modest improvement for Eason would be something like that. I’m not budgeting anything on the upside (again, I’m taking out his best three games), but I am counting on his worst games to be less bad.

For a 13-game season that projects him to do this (with minor rounding):

  • Attempts: 431
  • Completions: 251
  • Completion Percentage: 58.2%
  • Yards: 3,085
  • Touchdowns: 17
  • Interceptions: 9
  • Season-long Efficiency: 126.82

Based on last year’s numbers, that would place him in the following spots nationally among qualifying QBs:

 

Stat Projection Projected Rank Comparison from 2016
Attempts 431 18 Daniel Jones, Duke (430)
Completions 251 26 Richard Lagow, Indiana (253)
Yards 3,085 38 Ryan Finley, NC State (3,055)
Touchdowns 17 60 C.J. Beathard, Iowa (17)
Interceptions 9 56 Clayton Thorson, Northwestern (9)
Efficiency 126.82 70 Daniel Jones, Duke (126.3)

 

Where are all the hot takes on Daniel Jones and Clayton Thorson? Was C.J. Beathard (a third round pick in the 2017 Draft) about to get beat out by an incoming freshman? Is Ryan Finley going to win a Heisman this year? Is Richard Lagow the most polarizing player in the Big Ten?

If Eason improves only ever-so slightly, he’ll basically be an average QB. Given what Georgia historically does on offense, the strengths at running back and the talent on defense, I don’t think average QB play makes or breaks the Bulldogs’ season. You can get to Atlanta with the statistics above if the rest of the team is up to snuff.

 

Really weird things show up when you search “Jacob Eason GIF.

 

High-End Scenario: The Next Stafford

For better or worse, Matthew Stafford is the obvious comparison for Jacob Eason. And based on freshman campaigns that’s not a totally inaccurate discussion. Both played in 13 games. Neither was the full-time starter. Both had tremendous highs and discernible struggles. Both had all the arm talent in the world, both needed to improve in decision-making, touch and accuracy.

Here’s how Matthew Stafford performed as a freshman and then as a sophomore.

 

Category Freshman Sophomore % Improvement
Attempts 256 348 35.94%
Completions 135 194 43.70%
Completion Percentage 52.7 55.7 5.69%
Yards 1749 2523 44.25%
TD 7 19 171.43%
INT 13 10 -23.08%
Efficiency Rating 109 128.9 18.26%

 

Want to know the realistic ceiling for Eason in 2017? Apply those rates of improvement to Eason. Here’s where you end up.

  • Attempts: 503
  • Completions: 293
  • Completion Percentage: 58.2%
  • Yards: 3,505
  • Touchdowns: 43
  • Interceptions: 9
  • Season-long Efficiency: 141.81

 

How would those figures stack up compared to the national landscape in 2016? Check it out:

 

Stat Projection Projected Rank Comparison from 2016
Attempts 503 6 Ryan Higgins, LA Tech (496)
Completions 293 9 Brandon Silvers, Troy (293)
Yards 3,505 20 Brad Kaaya, Miami (3,532)
Touchdowns 43 2 Jake Browning, Washington (43)
Interceptions 9 56 Clayton Thorson, Northwestern (9)
Efficiency 141.81 36 Greg Ward Jr., Houston (141.7)

 

Again, this just isn’t a murderers’ row of noteworthy passers. There’s a little more name recognition here (Greg Ward Jr., Jake Browning, Brad Kaaya), but it’s not like Eason’s year-two ceiling is that of Deshaun Watson or that leprechaun from Oklahoma.

 

Conclusion:

If we consider these data points — attempts, completions, yards, TDs, interceptions and efficiency — as the standard for how prolific a passer is (statistically), it’s hard to get too worked up about Jacob Eason. On the low-side (just removing his three best and three worst games), he projects to finish with an average national ranking of 44.7 in those major categories. On the high-side (Stafford-level improvement from year 1 to year 2), he may post an average national ranking of 21.5 in those major categories.

That seems about right for the rising sophomore. I think Eason will be a Top-45 QB in 2017. I don’t think he’ll crack the Top 20. For what Georgia wants to accomplish, that’s perfectly fine. But that’s not performance worthy of blatant disregard or blind praise.

So everybody chill out.

We can stop with the Jacob Eason hot-takes. After all, you can’t spell “National Championship Season” or “Losing Season” without E-A-S-O-N.

 

That’s all I got/

Andrew

All of the SEC’s Draftees in One Place


Every year, I find myself stuck between one of two phenomena:
– Finding myself wondering where Player X from the SEC went, before discovering he’s in the NFL;
– Having a recollection of Player Y being “THAT DUDE” in the SEC and him not being a top draft pick (call it the Zach Cunningham corollary this year) and wondering where he’s playing in the NFL.

So as not to have that issue again in 2017, I was going to list all of the SEC players and when/by whom they were drafted…but Saturday Down South, a money-making blog, already did that. Here’s a copy/paste of their list, with commentary of picks I like and don’t like:

Alabama Crimson Tide (10)
Marlon Humphrey, CB, Baltimore Ravens, Round 1, No. 16
Jonathan Allen, DE, Washington Redskins, Round 1, No. 17
OJ Howard, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Round 1, No. 19
Reuben Foster, LB, San Francisco 49ers, Round 1, No. 31
Cam Robinson, OT, Jacksonville Jaguars, Round 2, No. 34
Ryan Anderson, LB, Washington Redskins, Round 2, No. 49
Dalvin Tomlinson, DT, New York Giants, Round 2, No. 55
Tim Williams, OLB, Baltimore Ravens, Round 2, No. 78
ArDarius Stewart, WR, New York Jets, Round 2, No. 79
Eddie Jackson, DB, Chicago Bears, Round 4, No. 112

I feel really good about Allen and Howard being studs in the NFL, and for some reason Humphrey being a bust. Anderson was the ‘highly drafted anonymous Alabama defender’ du jour for 2017, though the next two Bammers off the board also fit that bill.

Eddie Jackson to the Bears is fascinating in that the Bears were a complete shitshow during the draft. He could be the one player that actually works out.

Arkansas Razorbacks (3)
Deatrich Wise, DE, New England Patriots, Round 4, No. 131
Jeremy Sprinkle, TE, Washington Redskins, Round 5, No. 154
Jeremiah Ledbetter, DE, Detroit Lions, Round 6, No. 205

This was fun.

Auburn Tigers (4)
Montravius Adams, DT, Green Bay Packers, Round 3, No. 93
Carl Lawson, OLB, Cincinnati Bengals, Round 4, No. 116
Rudy Ford, DB, Arizona Cardinals, Round 6, No. 208
Joshua Holsey, DB, Washington Redskins, Round 7, No. 235

Adams and Lawson were pegged as rounds 1-2 guys leading up to last weekend, so seeing both fall is a bit of a surprise. Adams, in particular, took over some games for Auburn last year, but Green Bay’s 3-4 isn’t really an ideal fit for him.

Florida Gators (8)
Jarrad Davis, LB, Detroit Lions, Round 1, No. 21
Marcus Maye, DB, New York Jets, Round 2, No. 39
Quincy Wilson, CB, Indianapolis Colts, Round 2, No. 46
Teez Tabor, CB, Detroit Lions, Round 2, No. 53
Alex Anzalone, LB, New Orleans Saints, Round 3, No. 76
David Sharpe, OT, Oakland Raiders, Round 4, No. 129
Caleb Brantley, DT, Cleveland Browns, Round 6, No. 185
Joey Ivie, DT, Dallas Cowboys, Round 7, No. 228

Imagine that, Florida has more defensive talent than offensive talent. 7 of 8 draftees this year, 5 of 7 last year.

Georgia Bulldogs (1)
Isaiah McKenzie, WR, Denver Broncos, Round 5, No. 172

Trindon Holliday was super fun for the Broncos for a few years, so I assume good things for Joystick.

LSU Tigers (8)
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars, Round 1, No. 4
Jamal Adams, DB, New York Jets, Round 1, No. 6
Tre’Davious White, CB, Buffalo Bills, Round 1, No. 27
Ethan Pocic, C, Seattle Seahawks, Round 2, No. 58
Duke Riley, LB, Atlanta Falcons, Round, 3, No. 75
Kendell Beckwith, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Round 3, No. 107
Davon Godchaux, DT, Miami Dolphins, Round 5, No. 178
Malachi Dupre, WR, Green Bay Packers, Round 7, No. 247

This all seems fine. Duke Riley, like Deion Lewis last year, is an LSU ‘backer drafted by the Packers, so get ready for those annoying calls on ATL sports radio. Jamal Adams is friggin’ awesome to watch. Malachi Dupre falls into the Russell Sheppard/Terrance Toliver mold of 5* talent at wideout that goes way under-drafted and carves out a nice NFL career.

Ole Miss Rebels (4)
Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants, Round 1, No. 23
DJ Jones, DT, San Francisco 49ers, Round 6, No. 198
Derrick Jones, CB, New York Jets, Round 6, No. 204
Chad Kelly, QB, Denver Broncos, Round 7, No. 253 (Mr. Irrelevant)

CHAD KELLY IS MISTER IRRELEVANT AND PARADING HIM AROUND THE COUNTRY AT INTOXICATED OCCASIONS SHOULD BE A GD REALITY SHOW. Put it on Bravo and my girlfriend will even watch!

Mississippi State Bulldogs (1)
Justin Senior, OT, Seattle Seahawks, Round 6, No. 210

Fred Ross wasn’t drafted. Fred Ross is arguably the 2nd-best receiver on the Panthers, as a UDFA, already.

Missouri Tigers (1)
Charles Harris, OLB, Miami Dolphins, Round 1, No. 22

I told a lot of people Harris would be legit this year, but nobody listened because I can’t confirm whether or not Mizzou played football. In a world where Michael Sam, Kony Ealy, Markus Golden, and Shane Ray were all different levels of dominant for the Tigers, its amazing that Harris (I guess due to a lack of help) is the highest drafted of them.

Tennessee Volunteers (6)
Derek Barnett, DE, Philadelphia Eagles, Round 1, No. 14
Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints, Round 3, No. 67
Cam Sutton, CB, Pittsburgh Steelers, Round 3, No. 94
Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB, Detroit Lions, Round 4, No. 124
Josh Malone, WR, Cincinnati Bengals, Round 4, No. 128
Joshua Dobbs, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers, Round 4, No. 135

Barnett represents Tennessee’s first draft pick since 2014. Let’s all laugh at Tennessee. While doing so, doesn’t it feel like all of the rest of their draftees were 1-2 rounds lower (Dobbs excepted, why the hell would you draft him) than they should’ve been? Or is that just me as a Sutton/Reeves-Maybin fanboy talking out of turn?

Texas A&M Aggies (5)
Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland Browns, Round 1, No. 1
Justin Evans, DB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Round 2, No. 50
Daeshon Hall, DE, Carolina Panthers, Round 3, No. 77
Josh Reynolds, WR, Los Angeles Rams, Round 4, No. 117
Jermaine Eluemunor, OL, Baltimore Ravens, Round 5, No. 159

Just gonna leave this here (please send me any hot tips on a better way to search my timeline):

Garrett Tweet.png

Vanderbilt Commodores (2)
Zach Cunningham, LB, Houston Texans, Round 2, No. 57
Will Holden, OT, Arizona Cardinals, Round 5, No. 157

Cunningham is a beast, as referenced above.

404. File Not Found (2)

Kentucky Wildcats (0)
South Carolina Gamecocks (0)

Beautiful.

Ron Cherry Retired, and I Don’t Know How to Feel


There’s an old cliche in sports: if you know an official’s name, he’s probably pretty bad. By and large, that was the case with Ron Cherry, the most recognizable official in the country.

If his only quirk was his creepily robotic hand signals, I wouldn’t be writing this post.

If his only quirk was being extremely jacked, he’d be that one ‘biceps ref’ and I wouldn’t be writing this post.

If his only quirk was completely interjecting himself into games and making himself the show…well, that’s why we’re here.

Most famously, Cherry had a throwaway call (lol N.C. State was down 37-0 at this point) linked above, in which he created a new category of personal foul.

The timing of his hand signaling on the infamous “One Point Safety” in the Fiesta Bowl a few years back is that of a pop singer’s backup dancer. Maybe not a good pop singer’s backup dancer.

While Cherry’s antics were delightful, there is a large portion of every fanbase who has to separate the color he brought to the game from his woefully incompetent refereeing. There are tons of compilations on the YouTubes, but only one in which he shouts at a coaching staff and forgets to turn off his mic while doing so:

I wish Ron Cherry all the best in his future endeavors, but am happy those endeavors won’t be on the football field.

Mitchell Trubisky Can’t Be The Top Pick in the Draft – Georgia Fans Know This


Conventional wisdom and (likely) prevailing logic implies that Myles Garrett will be the first man off the board during Thursday night’s NFL Draft. But last time I checked the Cleveland Browns have the top (and 12th pick). Cleveland’s perennial Draft mismanagement combined with a need for help at basically every position (except maybe offensive line) is a recipe for disaster. And at this late hour there are some rumors that North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky could take the top spot.

You just can’t do that. Trubisky’s relative inexperience will be mentioned ad nauseum this evening but that point is worth belaboring. This is not the traditional blue chipper path to the NFL.

  • Trubisky was the nation’s 6th-best dual-threat QB per 247Sports.
  • He picked up many notable offers – the nation’s best program (Alabama), an allegedly resurgent SEC power (Tennessee), a Big 10 staple (Michigan State) and even his home-state Ohio State Buckeyes.
  • He chose to attend North Carolina with a May 2012 commitment in a January 2013 enrollment.
  • This made sense because North Carolina had dismissed its head coach Butch Davis the summer before his commitment (right before fall camp) and it had an interim head coach during the season preceding his commitment. Always a force, North Carolina was 3-5 in ACC play in 2011.
  • The bullet-point above was mostly to rib Chad Floyd and to point out that it was odd for a truly elite prospect (if he was one) to choose North Carolina for anything other than home-state loyalty (which didn’t apply) or immediate playing time (which didn’t come).
  • North Carolina played two quarterbacks in 2013. Both threw for more than 1600 yards. Neither had a Polish last name. Is Trubisky a Polish last name? I feel like it is. Either way, neither was named Trubisky. That guy redshirted. #Elite
  •  In 2014, Marquise Williams held onto the job. Williams was passable as a passer. His passer rating was 58th in the nation and only 61 full-time QBs posted better yards-per-attempts.
  • Trubisky attempted 78 passes as a backup in 2014 and posted a QB rating of 114.2. His best game came against Virginia when, just 23 months after arriving on campus, he completed 100% of his passes and finished 1/1 for 16 yards and a TD.
  • Always destined for greatness, Trubisky was a backup once again in 2015 as Marquise Williams improved by reducing his completion percentage and throwing for precisely as many yards as he did the year before. Trubisky attempted even fewer passes in 2015.
  • But in 2016, he took off.

In his lone season as the go-to quarterback for the Tar Heels, Trubisky was pretty good. North Carolina turned a Top 15 ranking at the end of 2015 into a pre-season no. 20 (per the Coaches poll) and Heels were ranked in the Top 20 all the way up until the first game of the season. Trubisky opened his career at 0-1 thanks to a loss to first-year head coach Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs. He threw for 156 yards on just 40 attempts (nearly four yards per attempt) and didn’t throw any interceptions (or passing touchdowns). Recruited as a dual-threat, Trubisky was electric with his legs rushing three times for seven yards.

He rebounded and North Carolina climbed back into the Top 25, but they didn’t stay there and finished the year un-ranked.

As a starter (for his entire career – four whole years in Chapel Hill), Trubisky played seven FBS opponents with winning records against FBS opponents. This is, by my estimation, the broadest measure one can find of Trubisky’s starting experience against average-or-better opposition. Those seven games are detailed below.

Click to make it big.

 
Those numbers, on average, are fantastically pedestrian. For Georgia-fan context, these numbers are worse than what Greyson Lambert put up in 2015 in terms of efficiency. But, that should not surprise you. After all, Lambert and Jacob Eason threw for 29 more yards than Trubisky on 20 fewer attempts in 2016’s match-up. Seriously. Trubisky threw for 156 yards on 40 attempts. Lambert and Eason threw for 185 on 20 attempts.

Any GM drafting Trubisky is hoping for the type of performance he put up against Florida State and Pitt. But they’re equally likely to get the Trubisky we saw against the Dawgs or the one that threw for 58 yards on 33 attempts against Virginia Tech. There’s not enough film on this guy to merit a first (or Top 10) pick and what is on field is not consistently good.

Intangibles become huge this time of year, but it’s hard to put too much stock into Trubisky’s moxie, etc. He rode the bench while North Carolina went 13-13 over all and 8-8 in conference play in 2013 and 2014. The Tar Heels went 8-0 in conference play and 11-3 overall in 2015 while he attempted just 47 passes. The Tar Heels under-performed expectations (or at least rankings) and took a discernible step backwards offensively. In terms of scoring, this was the worst offense of the Larry Fedora era.

  1. 2015 – 40.7 Points Per Game
  2. 2012 – 40.6 Points Per Game
  3. 2014 – 33.2 Points Per Game
  4. 2013 – 32.7 Points Per Game
  5. 2016 – 32.3 Points Per Game

Who wants him?

 

That’s all I got/

Andrew

 

Follow along on Twitter tonight. I’m not saying we’re going to disrupt the national media landscape…but it happened last year.

 

Governor Kirby Institutes Another Ridiculous Policy


And here we were thinking offseason writer’s block was permanent! 

It has been announced that, as of today, Georgia will no longer be reporting injuries (even those witnessed by media in practice) until Kirby Smart is asked directly about them by reporters.

The benefits to such a policy are … hmm. Kirby Smart acting as the gatekeeper for all Georgia football-related information? Great. Nick Saban earned that leeway by winning football games first, and using the leverage earned to become an abhorrent dick.

From a Georgia fan perspective, this is another kinda gross move by the Governor. Remember, he got the state to pass a law allowing 90 days for FOIA requests from Georgia public universities last year.

From an outsider perspective, this is laughable. A small sampling of tweets from the internet:

I hereby declare it is okay to support a team and dislike its coach on a personal level. Hey, did you know Mark Richt’s class at Miami is ranked #1 in the country right now?

🙂

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