Zach Wilson, Film, Highlights, Stats, Breakdown, New York Jets
Zach Wilson, New York Jets, Getty Images

Zach Wilson’s lack of confidence was on full display in the loss to New Orleans

As Robert Saleh described in his postgame presser, Zach Wilson’s performance against the Saints “wasn’t his cleanest game.” It’s a euphemism, for sure, but one much welcomed when talking about a rookie without his top-3 weapons.

Wilson, 22, faced a tough Saints defense without the help of Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, and Michael Carter, arguably the three best skill position players in the Jets offense. Tevin Coleman and Tyler Kroft also missed the game.

The losses of Davis, Moore, and Carter clearly impacted Wilson’s confidence. The Jets quarterback looked more hesitant than usual in Week 14.

Still, it’s fair to expect better from the second overall pick.

While the Jets’ receivers weren’t great and failed to separate throughout the game, Wilson could’ve done better. It was easy to spot his inaccuracy when the plays were there.

Wilson needs to be more decisive, too, especially when there’s nothing on the table on a play.

At the end of the day, it’s all about Wilson’s brain. He’s not a confident player right now, which makes him hesitate whenever he needs to think.

And overthinking is a capital sin for any quarterback. The position is all about quickly eliminating possibilities on a play-by-play basis. The brain of a signal-caller can never think too much about one single aspect of the game.

Right now, Wilson is overthinking everything, from his footwork, to the defense, to progressions. Everything blends in his brain while he drops back to throw.

Look at what he had to say about his incompletion to Ryan Griffin on an underneath pattern:

“Sometimes out there, like the one to Griff, pops open and flashes, I’ve just got to get it to him easy, not overthink the throw or try to make it too difficult or whatever­, just throw the ball.”

Overthinking is the reason for the bad footwork and mechanics, which leads to inaccuracy. Lack of accuracy is always a concerning trend for young quarterbacks because it can be hard to fix.

Saleh, though, is not worried about Wilson’s placement on short throws.

“When it’s cold, it gets slick. Not to make an excuse for him. He has to be better.” Saleh said.

“It’s something that he will be better at. I’m not concerned about the long-term view of whether or not he can complete a short ball.”

Despite the optimism displayed by Saleh, it’s completely fair for fans to be concerned about Wilson’s development.

While context is necessary, Wilson is underperforming even if you consider the multiple nuances around the situation (injuries, rookie quarterback, rookie staff, young team, etc.).

There’s a long way to go still, and I believe the 2022 offseason will be key. Wilson will have a chance to get his moxie back again and clean up his mechanical problems.

The Jets, also, will have a chance to improve this team drastically – which also plays a role in Wilson’s confidence.

Nonetheless, what is there on Wilson’s tape right now is not great. The issues are repetitive, and possibly may not be fixable until the offseason.

Film vs. Saints: The issues become evident

Wilson’s best characteristic might be his self-awareness. After the game, the Jets’ quarterback showed a lot of maturities, pointing out that he’s got to “just be more accurate” while giving “guys a good chance to catch the ball and run with it.”

The BYU product’s ability to recognize what’s wrong is encouraging from a future standpoint. But, right now, there’s not much good to say about Wilson.

The majority of the plays below are bad. While perspective is needed, Wilson admitted in his post-game presser that he’s struggling to adapt to the NFL game.

“Yeah, I worked on it (completing layups) a lot and that’s why I was frustrated, I think, missing some easy ones. That’s never been an issue for me, obviously, and I think part of it’s going to be just getting used to this NFL game.”

Wilson elaborated on the types of throws he thinks he is struggling with, saying, “Probably some of the routes that we’re doing I didn’t do a lot in college. That’s not making an excuse at all, but I’ve got to get better at being able to get those guys a nice, accurate ball over the line, and that’s something I’ve been working on.”

This answer by Wilson corroborates with the thesis that it’s all about his confidence right now. New team, new routes, new playbook, new everything – and the Jets’ 22-year-old quarterback is not having an easy time adapting to all of it at once.

The game film below speaks for itself.

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Looking ahead to the Dolphins: Can Wilson handle blitz zero?

Wilson’s life is not going to get any easier as he heads down to Miami to face the Dolphins.

The Fins are hot and have an aggressive defense that likes to come after the quarterback.

Wilson won’t have time to overthink. He has to be decisive – even if it’s a quick decision to throw the ball away.

On another hand, though, Miami’s defensive style might be beneficial for Wilson. They force quarterbacks into quick decisions – sometimes the wrong one – but Zach will have to play with more sense of urgency.

Nonetheless, it’s going to be a tough one for Wilson; on the road against a complex defense.

No matter the result, seeing a more decisive and non-afraid Wilson is the goal.

Whether the Jets’ young quarterback looks settled in against that aggressive, chaotic defense will be a good indicator of his progress.

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A former quarterback, Vitor Paiva wants to showcase a deep analysis of what's really happening on the field, showcasing what's really on the mind of a football player during a play, in his Sidearm Session. Email: vitorpaivagon[at]
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1 year ago

While it is probably accurate to say that Wilson is overthinking, ironically I think the fans and writers are also doing the same thing. Understandably because we are so starved for a competent football product. The kid is struggling to adjust to the NFL game…period. It’s not an anomaly for rookie QBs…especially on poor teams which this one is. Also one destroyed by injuries. Plus from my eye, the kid is also not 100% physically. His scramble against the Eagles showed me that compared to his college film. Reps right now may be the most important metric. Good or bad. If he’s doing these same things a year from now with hopefully a more complete roster, then we can be really concerned.

1 year ago
Reply to  Psi

I hope you’re right but there has to be a minimum standard. I’m concerned he can’t do the easy things right now. I’m trying to hang in but am I tainted or is this more adjusting than normal? Maybe not, but he’s not doing anything well, which is what scares me.

1 year ago
Reply to  Jets71

The visual of the egregious misses on a few of the easy throws is what is setting most people off. Understandably so. He did not do that in college so I’m thinking there is some mental and/or physical root cause. Those aside, the rest of his performances seem like typical rookie QB behavior to me. He’s committed to the game and has a solid off-season support structure. I have to trust that this issue (the short game mediocrity) can be corrected.

1 year ago

overthinking = head case. This is a major issue. It’s one thing to overthink and make a poor decision or throw a pick, it’s something else completely to one-hop or completely miss throws to WIDE OPEN receivers. This was a problem in his “improvement” game against Philly. Even the passes that were caught were way to tough compared to how open his receivers were on those plays. It’s always been said, you can’t fix accuracy, so this is a major problem.