Zach Wilson, NY Jets, Stats, Grade, Bills
Zach Wilson, New York Jets, Getty Images

A simple philosophical shift was all the New York Jets needed to bring Zach Wilson back to life

Zach Wilson was sputtering. After a promising first two games of his sophomore season, the New York Jets‘ young quarterback strung together three consecutive games of poor play. Worrisome habits from his rookie year had reemerged and were becoming more prevalent each week.

Over his first two games of the 2022 season, Wilson was playing like a perfectly average starting quarterback, which would represent an excellent leap from his rookie year. Wilson averaged 0.00 EPA (Expected Points Added) per dropback from Weeks 4-5, which ranked 14th out of 32 qualified quarterbacks over that span.

But from Weeks 6-8, Wilson stooped to -0.25 EPA per dropback, ranking 29th out of 32 qualifiers. That’s hardly different from his rookie-year average of -0.27, which was the worst mark out of 33 qualifiers in the 2021 season.

Wilson was headed down a dark path. But with one simple fix, Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur rejuvenated his young quarterback in New York’s Week 9 game against the Buffalo Bills.

Following Wilson’s rough Week 8 performance against the New England Patriots, I wrote an article that highlighted some of Wilson’s most notable strengths and weaknesses throughout the 2022 season to that point. One of the main takeaways was that Wilson tended to perform poorly on long-lasting plays and on plays outside of the pocket, but he was actually performing quite well when he got the ball out quickly and stayed in the pocket while doing so.

Here is a look at some of Wilson’s numbers in different types of situations over his first five games – notice how much better he was when playing the quick game from the pocket:

Ranks among 35 qualified quarterbacks

  • Passes thrown on designed rollouts: -0.85 EPA per dropback (34th) – 4/11 for 70 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
  • Passes thrown while outside of the pocket: -0.85 EPA per dropback (31st) – 6/31 for 140 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT
  • Passes thrown more than 2.5 seconds post-snap: -0.34 EPA per dropback (31st) – 38/90 for 683 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT
  • Passes thrown from inside of the pocket in under 2.5 seconds post-snap: 0.20 EPA per dropback (10th) – 40/52 for 365 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Against Buffalo, LaFleur did a phenomenal job of adjusting Wilson’s responsibilities to match the strengths and weaknesses that are shown by the numbers above. LaFleur designed an offense that emphasized Wilson’s success as a quick thrower from inside the pocket while hiding his weaknesses on long-lasting plays and on-the-move plays.

The majority of Wilson’s pass attempts against the Bills occurred within the scenario where he produces his best numbers. Wilson threw 16 of his 25 pass attempts from inside of the pocket in under 2.5 seconds after the snap. That makes up 64% of his pass attempts, a new season-high (by a longshot) and a massive increase over the 37% rate Wilson accrued over his first five games.

Wilson enjoyed immense success on these throws. He completed 14 of 16 passes for 116 yards, 1 touchdown, and 0 interceptions. His 117.7 passer rating in these situations ranked second-best among all quarterbacks in Week 9 (pre-MNF) while his 0.51 EPA per dropback ranked fourth-best.

After this standout performance, Wilson now ranks as a truly elite quick-game pocket passer in 2022. Here are his season-long numbers and rankings on passes thrown from inside of the pocket in under 2.5 seconds:

Ranks among 34 qualified quarterbacks

  • 54/68 for 481 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
  • 6th in yards per attempt (7.1)
  • 4th in completion percentage (79.4)
  • 8th in EPA per play (0.27)
  • 4th in success rate (57.4%)*- a successful play is considered any play that yields a positive EPA; i.e. a play that keeps the offense “on-schedule”

This is the version of Zach Wilson the New York Jets need right now. The scramble drills, the rollouts, the long-developing deep concepts: all of that can take a back seat until Wilson settles in and gets comfortable with the little things. While those weapons should still be pulled out at the right times (both from LaFleur’s perspective as a play-caller and from Wilson’s perspective as a playmaker), they should not be Wilson’s bread and butter.

When Wilson swiftly gets rid of the ball with rhythm and confidence, he is a stud. That’s the type of quarterback he is at the moment. The flashy stuff can become a larger part of his game once he is further along in his development.

LaFleur deserves a lot of credit for the philosophical shift against Buffalo, as he undoubtedly constructed a gameplan that was predicated more heavily upon quick-game concepts. But Wilson deserves credit for the stylistic change, too.

Over his three-game cold streak, Wilson himself was responsible for creating many of the unfavorable situations he encountered. Many plays that should have been quick-release, clean-pocket, in-the-pocket throws would turn into long-lasting, under-pressure, on-the-move throws because Wilson did not get the ball out on time and was too willing to leave the pocket.

Against Buffalo, Wilson eliminated those self-inflicted wounds. He looked significantly more calm, poised, and confident in the pocket, working smoothly within the rhythm of the offense. Wilson played his part when it came to preventing the creation of hectic conditions.

It feels as if LaFleur and Wilson have discovered their identity. The Jets will be a legitimate threat throughout the next few months if they can take what they did offensively against Buffalo and extrapolate it over the rest of the season.

Audio Version available to members only: Learn more here

Download Jet X Mobile on the App Store and Google Play.

Want More NY Jets News & Jets X-Factor Content?

Download the free Jet X Mobile App to get customizable notifications directly to your iOS (App Store) or Google/Android (Google Play) device.

Add Jets X-Factor to your Google News feed to stay up to date with the New York Jets.

Follow us on Twitter @jetsxfactor for all the latest New York Jets news, Facebook for even more, Instagram for some of the top NY Jets images, and YouTube for original Jets X-Factor videos.

Join the official Jets Discord community to connect with likeminded fans.

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]jetsxfactor.com - Twitter: @Michael_Nania
4.5 2 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
22 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
mlesko73
mlesko73
21 days ago

It was a great game for LaFleur and Zach. Basically, it was seeing exactly what the stats had shown us. When Zach gets the ball out quickly he succeeds.
My concern is that if we all see this, so does the Dark Lord in NE. Will we be able to adjust yet again when they play press coverage or only rush three?
The key is maintaining the excellent run game and forcing the other team into schemes that allow for the type of game plan we saw against the Bills

WandaCrawford
WandaCrawford
22 days ago

After leaving my previous job 12 months ago, i’ve had some good luck to learn about this website which was a life-saver for me.They offer jobs for which people can work online from their house. My latest paycheck after working for them for 4 months was for $4500.Amazing thing about is that the only thing required is simple typing skills and access to internet.

Read all about it here………>>> http://Www.onlinecareer1.com

Last edited 22 days ago by WandaCrawford
Barney Miller
Barney Miller
22 days ago

One other thing happened. Zach was decisive! If he keeps playing within himself like this I really think we’re gonna’ be a hard team to beat. The conversation has got to change from “Who can the Jets beat?” to “Who can beat the Jets?”

Allison Scott
Allison Scott
22 days ago

I am bringing in 88 bucks per/hr to paintings component time with a laptop. I now no longer ever believed that it’s even potential but my closest buddy became sxs earning $31 k in 3 weeks without problems doing this pinnacle provide in addition to she has glad me to join. Visit for brand spanking new information On
travelling following article———>> https://Www.Worksclick.Com

Last edited 22 days ago by Allison Scott
DFargas
DFargas
22 days ago

The solution was there all the time. It reminds me of how Sam Darnold got probably the biggest win of his Jets career, against the Rams in LA a few years ago. This was when Aaron Donald was absolutely unstoppable. Darnold and the OC/Gase knew there was no alternative but to pass the ball as soon as possible to the first guy open. All the thinking and check-downs were eliminated. And big surprise, Darnold played about twice as well as usual, and the Jets won a big upset.

Mike Palazzo
Mike Palazzo
22 days ago

Hey Mike, Just wanted to let you know that I am now an official JetXFactor member. Started the monthly subscription yesterday. Looking forward to all the extra content and wanted to show my appreciation for what you all do over there. How long has this site been up? I Just found it this Year. I wanted to get more in depth with the analysis and I ran across one of your articles. I read it and said to myself. Well this guy knows what he’s talking about. I respect the fact that you all tell it like it is and you back up your ideas and opinions with statistics. Which solidifies it as facts. It’s great that you guys don’t sugar coat stuff like other Jet sites. I used to be in a Jets Forum years ago but this site really gets down to the X’s and O’s of Football.

quasar18
quasar18
23 days ago

This is the kind of game that will eventually unlock the next level of talent. If Wilson can keep doing the little things well, then defenses will respect it and the big plays will open up. Hope he “gets it” now. If so, it can be huge for his development. Wilson coming on in the second half of the season would be a big deal for the team.

Rich
Rich
23 days ago

You called it. Nania wrote about this during the week. LaFleur adapted. Nice

Mike Palazzo
Mike Palazzo
22 days ago
Reply to  Rich

I noticed this as well. I think LaFleur is an official JetXFactor Member. lol

JetOrange
JetOrange
23 days ago

This is basically “First Read”get the ball out. Garrett Wilson consistently got open, Zach will go there all day until defenses adjust. Explains somewhat the lack of targets to EM

Jets71
Jets71
23 days ago

He looked good, and hopefully this is a stepping stone. I honestly feel he started the same against NE. I liked the deep ball to Mims early, and I thought they did a good job with the mix of play calling.

Give credit to Zach, clearly he had a mindset change. He didn’t bail as often, and stood in, plus took some runs when they were there. The bottom line is if he can get this game down mentally, then he’ll be the guy.

Listened to the podcast, Ben mentioned the “helmet to helmet” on Zach near the goal line, not sure if you were at the game but they didn’t show ONE replay on the broadcast. Ian even made note that the fans were watching the replay wanting that call, but NOT ONCE did they show it on TV. This is the 3rd game in a row with the Ian Eagle/Charles Davis booth/crew. ENOUGH!! The NFL has to put a stop to back to back games with the same announcers.

The Same Old Jets thing is tired. It’s lazy reporting, I’m about to tweet Conner that he’s NEVER allowed to write that again with Saleh as coach. Not EVERY loss is Same Old Jets. They are going to lose games. It’s becoming a joke.

Jets71
Jets71
23 days ago
Reply to  Michael Nania

To me “Same Old Jets” is an organization that’s in complete disarray. A group that clearly lacks focus, direction and talent. It’s not just about wins and losses. I’ve heard talk about Coach of the Year for guys like Dabol, and Pete Carroll but never hear Saleh’s name. If the Jets were supposed to be sooooo bad (yeah I’m talking about you Brady Quinn) then it’s Saleh by far.

Edward Kirby
Edward Kirby
21 days ago
Reply to  Jets71

And GM of the year…?

Mike Palazzo
Mike Palazzo
19 days ago
Reply to  Edward Kirby

Joe Douglas all the way.

Mike Palazzo
Mike Palazzo
19 days ago
Reply to  Jets71

I agree, Coach of the year talks should have Saleh’s Name in the conversation. I say Joe Douglas Should be GM of the year as well.

Jonathan Richter
Jonathan Richter
22 days ago
Reply to  Jets71

I love Ian Eagle’s game calls, but the camera work at CBS sucks. Even excluding cameras dangling over the field.

Jets71
Jets71
22 days ago

I think Ian is great, he needs a better partner than Charles Davis is what I mean.

Barney Miller
Barney Miller
22 days ago

I say lose the skycam. It only looks cool on kickoffs. I don’t like it zooming in on huddles. Just lose it. Get out of the players faces. Save that crap for the USFL & XFL.