During Zach Wilson’s first six games, the #2 overall pick played exactly like most starting quarterbacks play.
Wilson had four touchdowns and nine interceptions (sixth most in the NFL), with a completion percentage of 57.5 and a passer rating of 63.5.
Then Wilson suffered a PCL injury and was sidelined for a month. Now he is back on Sunday against the 2-8 Texans.
To get an expert assessment of how Wilson has played and where he can improve, the Daily News interviewed three NFL pundits: former Jets lineman Damien Woody and former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky, both analysts at ESPN, and Greg Cosell. , NFL analyst and senior producer at NFL Films.
THE ISSUES AND HOW TO CORRECT IT
Wilson’s two main issues were accuracy and consistently going for the big game.
He had the second worst completion rate of 57.5%. He also scored low on completion rate above expectations according to Next Gen Stats.
CPOE adds the percentage of completion and the expected completion based on the probability of completion. It is a good measure of accuracy because it favors quarterbacks who consistently complete both incredibly difficult and easy throws. The leader is Kyler Murray with 6.9; Wilson is last with -6.9.
Wilson also had the worst off-target percentage in the league according to, to TruMedia.com.
The area Wilson struggled the most with was 10-19 yards in between. In that area, Wilson’s completes 41% of his throws, the second worst. His passer rating is 35 with seven interceptions, both worst in the NFL according to Next Gen Stats.
“I think he still plays very much like a college quarterback,” Cosell said. “He’s a bit undisciplined.”
Cosell’s explanation of Wilson’s problems revolved around fundamental issues. Cosell sometimes found the rookie’s movement too loose.
“He needs to be a lot more accurate with his drops and his sets. There’s not really a strong sense of timing in the way he plays,” Cosell said. “He’s a young quarterback who came out of a program where he could only play plays. to make. I think he needs to move to a much more nuanced, detailed precision player to be consistently successful at the NFL level. He just needs to be much more accurate in his game.”
Orlovsky believes the accuracy issues have to do with the aiming of the football.
“It’s because he becomes a guide of football and the short stuff, he targets football,” Orlovsky said. “You have to see it and trust it. You never want to run football. Looks like you’re trying to be almost exact and just run the ball to that guy. If you’re trying to be that perfect and guide football there, you can’t do that in the NFL.”
Orlovsky explained the superior alternative to pushing and aiming the ball.
“Placing the ball over the guiding of the ball is paramount,” Orlovsky said. “Ball placement happens for many different reasons. Having a really good foundation, using the ground for accuracy and speed. Make sure your upper body torque is great. Front shoulder pointed the right way. The revolution of football, the release of football, a tap of football is your wrist.”
The other problem with Wilson was going for the deadly shot even when it’s not there. Therefore, his target air yards per attempt was 8.8, the sixth highest in the NFL. That’s a product of how he played at BYU.
“I think hopefully he realizes that talent is needed when the situations call for it,” Orlovsky said. “Greatness in that position in the NFL is about the consistency of the boring, the consistency of the mundane, the consistency of the basics and the fundamentals. I think he will also have to learn that just because you have home run skills, not “meaning you have to take home run swings all the time. Making platform throws and funny buddy throws, that’s great. It’s a blessing to have when it’s a necessity. When you don’t need it, it’s a disadvantage.”
The opposite is taking what the defense gives you and taking the check down.
The other Jets quarterbacks did better and got the ball out quickly. Mike White’s throw time was 2.70, Joe Flacco’s was 2.52 and Josh Johnson was 2.79. All their target air yards per attempt were less than eight yards.
That’s why running backs Michael Carter and Ty Johnson’s production increased when Wilson was gone.
“You can only do the right thing with football. Sometimes the defenses won’t let you throw it deep and you want to throw it in knowing it’s on paper and the defense gives you the right kind of schedule. Sometimes they play it well,” Orlovsky said.the boring‘, he said, echoing Robert Saleh, ‘is to throw the check down to make it second and sixth. And that’s hard for super talented guys.”
While the numbers weren’t impressive, a blind man could see the poor talent in Wilson.
Woody called Wilson’s best performance when he threw 297 yards for two touchdowns and made some spectacular throws in Week 4.
“You Might Point” to the Tennessee Titans game to see the arm talent,” Woody said. “The things he can do, a lot of quarterbacks just can’t do as far as improvise.”
The off-schedule plays Wilson can create impressed and his gunslinger mentality is tantalizing.
Orlovsky is impressed by his playing skills.
“I think it’s nice to stay aggressive with football. I think you’ve seen some of the creative plays. I think you’ve seen some outside of pocket athletics,” Orlovsky said. “There have been times when you go, yeah, that’s what it looks like. That’s how it should look… You never want to take the sting out of a young player… You always want guys to be aggressive.”
DO NOT PANIC
It was a struggle for the former BYU star, which is normal for a starting quarterback. The rookie years of Justin Herbert, Baker Mayfield, Andrew Luck and Cam Newton are anomalies.
“The thing is, unfortunately we’ve reached a point with young quarterbacks where people expect them to be great, but all these young quarterbacks have never played at this level before. And it’s hard,” Cosell said. “So they have a lot to learn. They have to learn the basics and the mechanics and the details of the function. And then they have to learn their offense, and then they have to learn about defenses in the NFL, that stuff is hard.”
But there’s no reason to be alarmed in Woody’s eyes.
“I think he’s typical of any newbie, to be honest,” Woody said. “There is an unreal expectation of these guys coming in and having a start like Justin Herbert. That’s really a deviation. What he goes through is what rookies usually go through on a bad team. ”
A young quarterback can fail. If he’s not Herbert right away, that’s okay. Josh Allen and others have proven that patience pays off.