Zach Wilson Might Not Be Right Guy for Job

Jets quarterback Zach Wilson’s record this year doesn’t tell the full story of how he has been playing since coming back as a starter. Maybe he is still nursing his knee injury that kept him sidelined the first three weeks of the season. But look at his stats during the Jets’ four-game winning streak—all those games Wilson started—and you will see he isn’t at the caliber of play other signal callers from his draft class are.

Wilson’s 4-0 record against the Steelers, Dolphins, Packers, and Broncos is nothing to scoff at. But looking at his numbers, and just watching him under center, screams to fans he might not be the best option for the team in the future.

Over the four games since Wilson returned from his injury, he has passed for 693 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Compare this with Joe Flacco’s 901 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions across three games. I’m by no means saying Flacco is the answer because it is clear he isn’t. But the veteran had the trust from coaches to throw the ball.

Flacco had 59, 44, and 52 pass attempts, respectively, and went 1-2. That’s an average of 51.7 passes per game and 155 throws total in three games and an average of 300.3 yards per game. Wilson had 36 pass attempts in his first game back against Pittsburgh, then 21, 18, and 26, averaging just 173.3 yards per game. He had his lone touchdown against the Steelers, amassing 252 yards in the air, with a 50% completion rate and two interceptions.

It’s evident Wilson isn’t trusted the same way to air out the ball. And when he does throw the ball, his receivers aren’t gaining much, with an average of less than seven yards gained per pass attempt. Against the Broncos, Wilson finished with the second lowest PFF grade on the team (45). In the game, he did not complete a single pass that went 10 or more yards beyond the line of scrimmage. His average depth was 4.4 yards and he had a -7.7 expected points added, costing the Jets 7.7 points.

Here’s a full look at Wilson’s passing numbers this season:

It doesn’t help that Wilson is playing with a lot of backup linemen and is often not getting the protection needed to make smart decisions. He relies on his legs and scrambling and not on his arm strength. Wilson certainly isn’t short on reliable receivers. He simply is getting in his own way.

Still, Wilson can play a bit more reserved because he is playing with the lead a majority of the time. Clock management means running the football and shedding time so the opponent’s chance at scoring dwindles.

But the Jets’ lead rusher, Breece Hall, suffered an ACL and meniscus injury in Denver last week that will sideline him for the rest of the season. And Alijah Vera-Tucker tore his triceps—another season-ending injury.

The offense went through Hall, who had 80 rushes for 463 yards and four touchdowns through seven games. Vera-Tucker was Mr. Reliable, as he played multiple positions on the line.

With Hall out and Wilson having less protection, it is up to the quarterback to execute and run the offense accordingly. It’s evident Wilson needs to be the guy with the arm the Jets thought they drafted.

Wilson acknowledged in a press conference Thursday the need to improve and increase the passing game.

“I would say we’ll miss Breece, but we need more in the passing game,” Wilson said. “We’re leaving some plays on the field. We need to execute our offense. I feel we’re in a good spot, confident and winning games. In the pass, game we need to be more efficient.”

Acknowledgement is one this. Execution is another. Wilson is a young quarterback, who has faced some of the top defensive teams, likely making the Jets weary to go for the long ball. So there’s still hope. But if he continues to crack under pressure and the Jets don’t have faith in him throwing the ball more than 10 yards moving forward, he isn’t the right person for the job.

(Photo: Getty Images)

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