How well did Zach Wilson perform against the Jacksonville Jaguars?
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 performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
These glimpses is why I down-voted your hypothetic Russel Wilson trade yesterday. If this kid is really getting it now (and I think these next two games could be instructive), no one would make that trade for where this young team is. He would be on his way to becoming a bonafide good to potentially elite QB for us, and we haven’t had one for close to 40 years. If in the NFL he can get to the comfort level he matured into by year 3 in his college system, we will be competitive for the next 10 years.
Me too. If we were to trade Z. Wilson and he were to become a franchise QB in Seattle the only way I’d get over it would be if R. Wilson delivered at least one Lombardi and more than Zach managed to accumulate.
The average negative was 3.4/poor and the Jags could have had three picks were it not for a bit of luck on the throw to Mims and the interventions of Fant and Kroft. What did you make of those plays and what effect would they have had on the rating if they’d resulted in turnovers?
The Mims play was bad and the worst graded play I had for him in the game, that one is the main reason the average negative score was low (he only had 5 negatives so that one was enough to drag it down). Fine idea but he was hesitant/late on the release then placed it way too far inside. It was a pick for all intents and purposes. He also missed a couple of plays in which Kroft was wide open in the flat and those were graded pretty low too, so those two coupled with the Mims dropped pick are what made his average negative score low. Very few negatives in this game but those three were notably poor in my opinion.
As for the other two I didn’t think either one was his fault. The one broken up by Fant he wanted Carter on a slant, it was a good decision, Carter was open, and the ball looked good. The DT was squashed to the ground by Fant and miraculously got up at the perfect time to hit the ball with his head. I graded that as a slight positive since it was the best available decision and he made it with good timing.
The one broken up by Kroft I graded neutral. The ball was a bit high but still hit the two hands of Kroft, and on the replay it appears it may have been deflected (it’s a very slight deflection but you can see the ball’s trajectory changes a bit). Even if it was, the pass still looked to be on its way to being a little high. But with that being said, the DT/OL matchup was directly in the throwing lane between Wilson and Kroft, so he had to throw it a bit high to get it over. So ultimately I graded it neutral. It was a good decision but the accuracy was a tad awry, although there reasons to explain it and Kroft still should’ve caught it fairly easy. Not a noticeably good or bad play.
But one of the main premises of grading is to separate the quarterback’s individual effort from the result of the play. So even if any of those three potential picks were caught it wouldn’t have changed how I would have graded it for Wilson since he has no control over that part of the play.
Fant and Kroft do deserve a lot of credit for their hustle in breaking up those interceptions, though. Still, neither of those plays becoming possible picks was the fault of Wilson. First one (Fant) was dumb luck and the second was a tip/drop by Kroft
Thanks Michael, that seems a perfectly reasonable way to evaluate those plays. Despite what could have happened on them Wilson has protected the ball well since the first few games and better than any of our other rookies of the last 12 years. Eight interceptions on his first 110 attempts (7.3%) and three in his last 220 (1.4%).
Super promising to see the improved ball security from him. We know that ball security is typically the #1 thing rookies struggle with, particularly the ones we had, so to see him quickly rebound from a tumultuous first 3 games to become a QB who has kept the ball very safe is something to feel great about.
Yes, I agree. I cheated a bit in the numbers I posted above by adding the first five passes of game 4 (Tennessee) to the first sample. In that way I added another interception to it and ended up with the nice 2:1 split but even without that statistical legerdemain there’s been a clear improvement. For a long time I’ve had a sense of gathering dread every time one of our rookie QBs has dropped back to pass but that may finally be dissipating.