Zach Wilson’s performance is a cause for concern

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Zach Wilson’s performance is a cause for concern

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Zach Wilson’s performance is a cause for concern

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Bill Belichik has long made the life of young quarterbacks hell. The greatest defensive mind of a generation and the longtime Head Coach of the New England Patriots, is a master of stifling offenses and forcing signal callers to give into poor impulses. 

Facing a Belichick defense is a unique challenge, and for New York Jets Head Coach Robert Saleh, a former defensive coordinator, the daunting obstacle Belichik’s defense creates is something he’s appreciative of. 

“That’s an adjustment that is hard for quarterbacks to make to understand that little bit of space you got to be a quick decision maker and sling the ball and get rid of it,” Saleh said to the media on October 28th, two days before his team faced the Patriots. “When you watch their defenses, they take away space as good as anyone in football.”

On Sunday, Saleh’s 23-year-old signal caller Zach Wilson, got the full Belichick experience, completing less than 50% of his passes and throwing three interceptions in a 22-17 loss against the Patriots that dropped the Jets record to 5-3.  

“I just had some boneheaded plays,” Wilson said after his disappointing performance.

Wilson, in his second season after being the number two selection in the 2021 NFL Draft has shown his potential in moments. But through 18 career games, as he’s battled both inconsistency and injury, he’s barely completed 55% of his passes and only thrown 12 touchdowns compared to 16 interceptions. 

Starting on a team that was expected to be still in the midst of a rebuild, but surprisingly strung five wins in its first seven games on the back of a sturdy defense before Sunday’s loss, the Jets timeline has changed.

Wilson is no longer the face of a rebuild, he’s the face of a playoff chase, but can he soar the Jets to where they want to go?

Thus far, Zach Wilson has the 36th highest Pro Football Focus grade among NFL quarterbacks. Among the quarterbacks above him are Cowboys backup Cooper Rush, struggling Jaguars starter Trevor Lawrence and Joe Flacco, his own backup. 

Wilson’s supporting cast is far from perfect, especially considering Breece Hall, the Jets standout rookie running back, is out for the season after suffering a torn ACL in week seven. Not to mention, second-year receiver Elijah Moore seems to want out and the team lacks a true number one receiver, although another rookie, 10th overall pick Garrett Wilson has shown flashes of being that. 

While yes, he may lack the depth and standout talent around him the Buffalo Bills were able to give Josh Allen or the Philadelphia Eagles have given Jalen Hurts, Wilson has still been flat out underwhelming in his second season. 

Zach Wilson’s 54.9% completion percentage puts him among the worst in the NFL in that specific metric. NFL Next Gen Stats has it a full 7.6 points below his expected completion percentage, the second worst differential with only Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield having a more putrid differential. 

When Wilson entered the NFL out of BYU he was heralded as a potential home run pick and credited for his ability to improvise. With a big arm, mobility and an on-field swagger it wasn’t hard to be infatuated with him. But when the pressures in his face and those skills need to translate, Wilson hasn’t performed. 

According to The 33rd Team, Wilson has a completion percentage of 21.4% against pressure, the lowest of any quarterback with a minimum of 35 attempts. When evaluating the second-year quarterback against pressure, statistically or watching film, he grades out as a high-end backup at best. 

Despite Wilson’s struggles, the Jets have been a nice surprise. Currently sitting as the top Wild Card team, the Jets still find themselves in prime position for a place in the postseason. However, in the modern game, to win in the playoffs, you must have a quarterback who can elevate the team when it matters most. As much as it may hurt Jets nation to hear this, Zach Wilson has not shown that ability yet. 

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