As the New York Jets head into the off-season, several questions arise. Many may ask, “do we have the right coach?” or “can our offensive line hold up?” However, the biggest question that many fans have is, “Is Zach Wilson good enough to shine in the NFL?”
This question is difficult to answer initially. Yes, Wilson’s stats have been sub-par, atrocious even in some categories. However, the larger context of the situation cannot be ignored. Wilson was a rookie quarterback playing for a rookie head coach on a team that finished the 2020 season with only two wins. These are all contributing factors that many use to give Wilson a “pass” on some of his issues this past season.
However, I want to dig a little deeper and look at the stats, the context, and the expectations so that we can give Zach Wilson’s rookie season an appropriate grade.
First, we must get an understanding of where Wilson ranked among other quarterbacks this season. Wilson ended his rookie season with 2,334 passing yards (30th), nine passing touchdowns (31st), 11 interceptions (17th), and a 55.6% completion percentage (33rd). Given that there are only 32 teams in the NFL, and conversely 32 starting quarterbacks, these numbers are extremely troubling. Given that many fans expected Wilson to be an immediate game-changer—of the likes of Justin Herbert—this season was a massive disappointment. However, there is a bright side.
In terms of turnovers, Wilson made massive improvements throughout the season. He did not throw an interception in his last five games. In contrast, Wilson through nine interceptions in his first five games. When it came to forcing the ball into difficult places, Wilson showed vast improvement toward the end of the season. During the first half of the week 13 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Wilson looked the best he’d looked all season. He displayed great accuracy, incredible arm strength, and smart decision-making—things that he had yet to show up to that point in the season.
Grading Zach Wilson's 2021 Season
Things continued to be up and down for Wilson and the Jets, but from weeks 14-17, Wilson showed undeniable flashes of talent—enough to make any Jets fan excited. Yes, the season was a little disappointing, and to say it started rough would be an understatement. But given the vast improvements in virtually every aspect of his game, I’d be willing to give Wilson an overall C+ grade on the season.
Given the context and the improvement, I’m looking past some terrible stat lines, and I am confident that Zach Wilson is the future for this Jets team. I think every Jets fan should be excited and encouraged about next season!