Zach Wilson, NY Jets, Stats, Rank, Futures, Fantasy
Zach Wilson, New York Jets, Getty Images

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson given less than a 1-in-5 chance of being a top-half QB in 2022

Analytics website Pro Football Focus recently published an article that projects the chances of success for various young quarterbacks in the 2022 season. It includes the projected odds to finish as a top-16 quarterback, a top-12 quarterback, and a top-10 quarterback.

The analysis is not high on New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (to say the least).

Wilson was given an 18.6% chance of being a top 16 quarterback in 2022, which is less than Justin Fields (21.9%), Davis Mills (33.1%), and even Sam Darnold (30.1%).

Additionally, Wilson was given a 10.2% chance of being a top 12 quarterback and a 7.2% chance of being a top 10 quarterback. Both numbers are lower than all three of the aforementioned players.

On a brighter note, the article also names Wilson as the NFL’s most likely quarterback to improve in 2022, as PFF gave him a position-high 84.3% chance of doing so. However, as the analysis notes, that’s only because Wilson was so poor that he could hardly get any worse.

“Wilson is the worst returning quarterback in the NFL by EPA per pure dropback, and so he can really only improve,” PFF’s analysis reads. “The model projects a 15.7% chance of him remaining at the bottom of the league, but it’s more likely the second-year BYU product will improve with rookie Garrett Wilson and a healthier Elijah Moore in the wide receiver room.”

The numbers were calculated by taking the results of 100,000 simulations of the 2022 season. Quarterbacks’ chances of future success were calculated through a combination of their previous-year performance, the stage of their career, and the quality of their supporting cast.

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The odds are stacked against Zach Wilson

These figures are daunting for Wilson, but they’re tough to argue with. The unfortunate reality is that very few rookie quarterbacks in NFL history had a rookie year as poor as Wilson’s, and among those who did, not many have gone on to be successful.

Wilson had a 69.7 passer rating in 2021, which ranked last out of 33 qualified quarterbacks.

When you adjust that number according to the 2021 league average (90.8), it stands out as one of the worst numbers by a rookie quarterback in NFL history.

Wilson’s “adjusted passer rating” (a stat via Pro Football Reference) was 70. This version of passer rating compares against the league average in each season, allowing us to fairly compare quarterbacks from different eras. The NFL average in any given season is 100.

Among rookie quarterback seasons with 200-plus passing attempts, Wilson’s rookie-year adjusted passer rating of 70 is tied for the ninth-worst in NFL history out of 152 qualifiers.

Here are the worst rookie seasons in NFL history based on adjusted passer rating (min. 200 passing attempts):

  1. Ryan Leaf, 1998 (Adjusted passer rating: 54) – Actual passer rating: 39.0
  2. DeShone Kizer, 2017 (61) – 60.5
  3. Terry Bradshaw, 1970 (64) – 30.4
  4. Steve DeBerg, 1978 (64) – 40.0
  5. Jared Goff, 2016 (64) – 63.6
  6. Andrew Walter, 2006 (66) – 55.8
  7. Dan Darragh, 1968 (69) – 33.0
  8. Josh Rosen, 2018 (69) – 66.7
  9. Josh Allen, 2018 (70) – 67.9
  10. Zach Wilson, 2021 (70) – 69.7
  11. Jimmy Clausen, 2010 (71) – 58.4
  12. Josh Freeman, 2009 (71) – 59.8
  13. Joey Harrington, 2002 (71) – 59.9
  14. Matthew Stafford, 2009 (72) – 61.0
  15. Jack Trudeau, 1986 (72) – 53.5
  16. C.J. Beathard, 2017 (73) – 69.2
  17. Trevor Lawrence, 2021 (73) – 71.9
  18. Kyle Orton, 2005 (73) – 59.7
  19. Tobin Rote, 1950 (73) – 26.7
  20. Geno Smith, 2013 (73) – 66.5

Removing Wilson and fellow rookie Trevor Lawrence from the picture, only five of the other 18 quarterbacks (28%) went on to make at least one Pro Bowl: Tobin Rote, Terry Bradshaw, Matthew Stafford, Jared Goff, and Josh Allen. Each of the other 13 quarterbacks either quickly fizzled out of the league or became journeymen.

So, it’s definitely still possible for Wilson to become a great quarterback, but history tells us it will be a tall order. He’s got a lot to prove in 2022.

Can Wilson join Bradshaw, Stafford, and Allen as the next outlier quarterback who overcomes brutal rookie-year production to become a star?

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Michael Nania is one of the best analytical New York Jets minds in the world, combining his statistical expertise with game film to add proper context to the data. Nania scrapes every corner, ensuring you know all there is to know about everyone from the QB to the long snapper. Nania's Numbers, Nania's QB Grades, and Nania's All-22 give fans a deeper and more well-rounded dive into the Jets than anyone else can offer. Email: michael.nania[at] - Twitter: @Michael_Nania
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Richard Hausig
Richard Hausig
1 year ago

Well the numbers match the eye test. I still can believe JD, who I respect, was fooled by this poser. Ill leave the analytics to you guys and focus on the person. I’ve watched guys like this bust fot 50 years and every time I see him or hear him speak he’s doing and saying the same stuff the all busts before him said and did.

Did he work on his fundies and mechanics? Haven’t heard anything about that though I understand he’s beefy! Have you ever heard him actually talk football? No, never. He’s talks about the process and the commitment and anything that doesn’t require an actual knowledge of the game. If you’re a younger fan watch the things he does off the field and you’ll be able to identify the next bust because he’ll have the exact same repertoire. Going to other sports events wearing the team jersey with your name on the back? Frat boy, not NFL QB. Run around the country visiting your WRs instead of getting them together in one place to actually do the work? Thats how a clown operates, not a leader.

I don’t think he’s trying to fail I just don’t believe he understands what he’s even involved in because he’s just not very bright. I know that’s harsh but think about what you’ve seen and heard from him so far and tell then tell me I’m wrong. Trust me, I wish I was wrong.

Richard Hausig
Richard Hausig
1 year ago

Allow me to pile on. I’ve followed the NFL for 50 years and have seen this act more times than I care to count. Everything you see about this player screams bust. He acts and speaks like a clueless child who doesn’t understand the seriousness of his job. His complete disregard for the fundamentals and the mechanics of the position is the elephant in the room no one has said a word about. But he sure looks beefy!

You can me till forever about his arm talent, it doesn’t translate under game conditions. Every attempt is of off time and his 20 yard plus accuracy is hideous because he can’t play at the speed and pace of the NFL game. He’s a himbo, all look, no head and I don’t believe he’s smart enough to know how to get better. Coming out of college I read a story about him refusing to do his homework until he beat is housemate at ping pong. And that was an important clue, play first study later is the recipe for failure. Being competitive is not an excuse for not putting in the work. It’s an indictment and the Jets know it by now. Hopefully they can run the ball and limit his throws as much as possible. He’s got 34 games or less then we move on. The only question is can JD and Salah can survive their horrible mistake? Gonna be tough.

Barney Miller
Barney Miller
1 year ago

I want someone to do a statistical analysis of how accurate football predictions are compared with basketball, baseball or other “money ball” type sports predictions. Here’s my hypothesis: I bet American football is the hardest to predict with any consistency. Why? Because unlike other team sports, football really seems to rely so much on team chemistry and momentum. Baseball is literally a game of balls, strikes, execution & errors. Football has so many more INTERACTIVE variables. Right? A pitcher is a pitcher. Sure the catcher matters a bit. But as much as a wide receiver? No. And pitchers don’t have 300 lb men trying to slam them to the ground before each throw. Yeah, an infield error can mess up a game, but not as much as a blind side OT missing a block.

But I’m not a stats guy. So tell me I’m wrong, if I am. I’ll take the L. Either way you can still spin these stats positively if you want to (and I want to, Ha!):

“Zach a had better actual passing record than Josh Allen, Matthew Stafford and hall of famer Terry Bradshaw. And he has a good (50%?) chance at being one of the 17 best QB’s in the league as the Jets surprise everyone with a 12-5 record and march into the playoffs.”

I’ll take those odds. Ha!

1 year ago

Zach was solid for rokkie outside of two really bad games. I just don’t get the numbers. His supporting cast poor drop rate had a lot to do with how last season went. With even average drop numbers he would have had a solid season. Time will tell but I don’t really put much stock in PFF QB numbers.

1 year ago

IMO PFF are a bunch of clueless morons. I don’t believe their ratings or statistics. Ranking Darnold and Fields ahead of Wilson shows exactly how clueless they are. I’m sad that you find it hard to disagree with them. Some of you statistics guys obviously need to forget about your statistics and learn to understand what you’re seeing when you watch football. Zach clearly has the talent, he has the smarts, he has the work ethic and the character. He is going to succeed. He improved as the year went on and was handicapped by many things last year that were beyond his control. Using PFF’s metrics, Peyton Manning would have been a flop after his rookie season. I’m really sick of the NY and Jets media and their negativity towards Zach and towards the Jets.

1 year ago
Reply to  ncjetsfan

Instead of just basically repeating what Pff claims, why didn’t you refute PFF’s claims with statistics like how many passes Jets receivers dropped and how many games Moore, Carter, Davis, Zach and Becton missed? How many plays were short circuited because players didn’t know or blew their assignments? How about Zach’s adjustment to the NFL from a lower level of football? How about the idiocy of grading and judging rookie QBs so harshly, when everyone know it is the hardest position in football, has the most pressure on it, and the Jets as a team were learning new, complex offensive and defensive schemes? How about all the moves the Jets made in the offseason to upgrade the offense around Zach, and how Chicago actually got worse, and Jacksonville didn’t do a lot to upgrade their OL to protect Lawrence?

Yes, Zach struggled last season, but there were plenty of valid factors and reasons for that struggle. Still, he looked better than Lawrence, Fields, or Lance, even with his struggles. He made plays that they and that most QBs in the NFL can only dream about making.

I hope you know that I’m a big fan of yours, but imo this is one of your worst efforts, Michael.

Peter Buell
Peter Buell
1 year ago

Such idiocy..

1 year ago

The thing about making projections based almost entirely on statistics is that if/when you are proven wrong you can always point back to the possibility of statistical outliers. I think making these kind of projections on rookie QBs is nonsensical. Way too many variables to a large degree outside their area of control. Quite frankly, simply based on the eye test, I believe Lawrence, Zach and Fields all have an opportunity to go on to have good careers simply based on the anecdotal eye test on some of their rookie games alone.