How well did Zach Wilson perform against the Houston Texans beyond the box score?
Throughout the 2021 season, I will be running a weekly series of breakdowns in which I analyze the performance of the New York Jets’ quarterback(s) by grading every single one of their plays on a 0-to-10 scale.
My goal with this grading system is to capture the true quality of the quarterback’s performance. Box score statistics can be misleading, as they do not account for a variety of factors that determine whether a quarterback performed well or poorly on a given play.
After re-watching each play on the All-22 film, I grade them on a 0-to-10 scale and then take the average of all plays to form a 0-to-100 overall score with 50 being approximately league-average (based on my studying of numerous other quarterback performances across the league).
Here are just a handful of the primary factors that are taken into account in the grading of each play, and a basic description of what I’m looking for:
- Decision-making (Did the QB choose the best available option or did he leave a better play on the field?)
- Throw difficulty (Clean pocket or pressured? Wide open or tight window? Stationary or on the move? More difficult throws are more valuable.)
- Accuracy/placement (Even if the pass is completed, was the ball placed in the best possible spot or did the receiver have to make an extra effort to catch it?)
- Game situation – score, time, field position, down and distance (Good decisions based on the clock/situation are crucial. Playing the sticks is also important – it is not a good play to complete a 5-yard out on third-and-10 while a 15-yard dig is open, but a 5-yard out on third-and-2 is good.)
Ultimately, it’s all about context. Not all 40-yard completions are created equal. Not all interceptions are created equal. You need to watch a play to understand whether the quarterback did a good or bad job. The raw result of a play cannot give you that answer.
When we analyze every play on film multiple times and grade the quarterback’s individual effort independent of his surroundings or the on-paper outcome of the play, we get a much better estimation of how well he actually played.
Of course, keep in mind that these grades are subjective. They are but one man’s opinion and are not gospel. Feel free to let me know your takes on my grades for these performances.
Let’s dig into everything that went into my 0-to-100 grade for Zach Wilson‘s return against the Houston Texans. Was he actually as poor as his ugly box-score statistics suggest?
Michael…appreciate your article. It helped me to see some things that were not obvious even after watching Wilson’s plays a second time. Accuracy was my biggest detractor for him when watching it live and the second time. The dropped throw in the end zone likely changes the knee jerk narrative in the immediate game aftermath. That was a good play by Zach…though even on that one he passed up an easier throw to Berrios that would have given him a first down.
I liked his process in this game even if the results were not great. Some of that was the fault of others and much of it was on his own accuracy. The accuracy – especially on the easiest throws – has to be a lot better. But I think we saw him improve in a lot of the areas we wanted to see him improve, and his proficiency in those areas made this a decent overall performance even when considering the accuracy woes. Thought it was a promising step forward overall.
That article was more encouraging than I’d expected it to be. Hopefully if the mental side of game improves the physical side can follow behind with improved footwork and accuracy. I’m guessing a bit but it feels like that may be the natural order of things as it’s hard to imagine the physical aspects of the position being perfected while the mind is still all over the place.
I was just as surprised to be this encouraged by the film. In my opinion, he was simply very good from a decision making and processing standpoint. Just very bad accuracy (which isn’t a “just” – it’s, of course, a massive part of QBing).
You might be right. The Josh Allen comparison gets thrown around a lot and I feel like that’s the order he went in. He always had the tools. As a rookie he was just straight-up bad. In year 2 he really settled down and started managing the offense/protecting the ball better but he still wasn’t very explosive or better than average overall. Then in year 3 – having already improved greatly in many of the mental aspects – that’s when his explosiveness was finally unleashed and his physical tools fulfilled.
Definitely some credence to the idea that mental mastery has to come first and then physical can follow