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Nania’s Quarterback Grades

Michael Nania's Zach Wilson Grades Sam Darnold

Nania’s Quarterback Grades are released during the week following each Jets game (Jet X membership required).

2021 Season (Wilson)

Explaining the QB Grades

Following the conclusion of the 2019 season, I sat back and wondered to myself, “What has been the best game of Sam Darnold’s career to date?” I started off by nonchalantly scoring each game on a scale of 0-10 off the top of my head. And then it hit me. What if I scored every single play of Darnold’s career on a scale of 0-10?

So that’s what I did. Digging through the All-22 film, I went back and graded every play (pass attempt, sack, rushing attempt) from every one of Darnold’s games, scoring each on a scale of 0-10 (5 representing an average play).

Anything and everything is taken into account. Ball placement. Should-be turnovers. Unlucky turnovers. Protection quality. Play-calling effectiveness. The number of open targets available and their locations on the field relative to the quarterback. Impact of the route-running and ball-tracking by the intended receiver. Down and distance. Field position. Game situation.

Every layer of decision-making is considered. Did Darnold choose the best available option? Did he scan the field to check all possible options? Did he take an over-aggressive shot when a first down was available underneath? Did he check down too early with a potential big play open down the field? Should he have tucked-and-run? Did he take a sack he should not have? Should he have thrown the ball away? Was there absolutely no option available for him to pick up yards, excusing a lack of production?

Simple statistics do not account for any of those factors. Using a manual, play-by-play grading system, many crucial variables that usually go overlooked are being properly valued. Sprinkle in this essential context, and we get a grade that is much more representative of the quarterback’s true performance level than standard box score numbers.

Darnold’s final scores are scaled from 0-to-100, with 50 representing the approximate league average (based on the analysis of other quarterbacks).

Breakdowns of every Sam Darnold performance from 2019-20 can be found at the links above, featuring my overall grade for each game. The grades will continue for Zach Wilson and any other Jets passers that appear in 2021.