1. Intermediate accuracy
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson was struggling with his accuracy at all levels of the field to begin his 2021 rookie season, but it’s the intermediate range where we saw him misfire most frequently.
From Weeks 1-7, Wilson threw an NFL-high seven interceptions on intermediate passes (10-19 yards downfield). His 36.7 passer rating on these throws was the worst among qualified quarterbacks by an enormous margin, trailing the second-worst quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger) by a whopping 27.0 points.
In terms of accuracy, Wilson had an adjusted completion percentage (accounts for drops, throwaways, batted passes, etc.) of 54.8% on intermediate throws, which ranked 31st out of 34 qualifiers.
This is the part of the field where Wilson made the greatest strides after returning from injury (Weeks 12-18).
Over his final seven games, Wilson had an adjusted completion percentage of 65.9% on intermediate throws, ranking sixth-best out of 38 qualifiers across that span. He attacked this area quite often, tying for 14th in the NFL with 23 intermediate completions.
2. Rushing production
Wilson did very little on the ground at the beginning of his rookie year. Over his first six games, Wilson logged eight carries for 22 yards, zero touchdowns, and two first downs (in addition to a two-point conversion rush).
Following his return from injury, Wilson quelled any doubts about his health by immediately starting to use his legs on a far more frequent basis.
From Weeks 12-18, Wilson carried the ball 21 times, turning those attempts into four rushing touchdowns (1st among QB over that span) and 163 rushing yards (7th). Wilson also rushed for four first downs in addition to the four touchdowns, giving him eight rushing conversions in total.
Wilson’s rushing production was often self-created on the strength of some stellar elusiveness. The BYU product ranked fifth among quarterbacks with six missed tackles forced over the last seven weeks of the year.
3. Ball security
Wilson launched nine interceptions on 181 pass attempts over his first six games. Going into Week 8, his interception rate of 4.97% was the worst in the NFL among qualified quarterbacks.
We saw Wilson take much better care of the football after he got a chance to sit back, regroup, and evaluate his film over the first six games.
Over his last seven games, Wilson only threw two interceptions on 202 pass attempts. His interception rate of 0.99% ranked fourth-best in the NFL over that span, trailing only Patrick Mahomes (0.96%), Matt Ryan (0.95%), and Aaron Rodgers (0.00%).
Both of those interceptions were thrown during Wilson’s first two games back from injury. Impressively, Wilson did not throw a single interception over his final five games of the season. His total of 140 pass attempts without an interception from Weeks 14-18 ranked second-best in the NFL over that span behind only Rodgers (158).