Blaming the quarterbacks for a team’s failures is one of football’s most prevalent traditions. On the surface, the notion of blaming the person who holds the ball every play makes plenty of sense. But there are times when it is unwarranted to blame only the quarterback.
As we all know, Jets quarterback Zach Wilson’s career has not panned out as New York once hoped. Through his first two seasons, he’s endured struggles, multiple injuries, poor playcalling and a shaky supporting cast at best.
The Jets rightfully decided to find an alternative in Aaron Rodgers, and Wilson was relegated to a backup role in order to develop his skills. And given the impossible task of stepping back in as the starter after Rodgers’ Achilles injury, Wilson has actually performed admirably in Rodgers’ stead.
Zach Wilson: PFF metrics since Week 4
These numbers aren’t spectacular, but they resemble what many teams hope for in a backup quarterback, which Wilson currently is.
One trend that is dragging down his grading through this stretch is an increase in fumbles. Wilson’s been officially charged with eight fumbles on the season, losing five of them in the process. While that is a concerning trend, it’s not necessarily indicative of any skill.
His grading profile without these fumbles paints a slightly different picture.
Zach Wilson: PFF metrics since Week 4 (minus fumbles)
While not spectacular, these numbers are indicative of Wilson playing generally average football. The overall grade matches Russell Wilson’s overall grade on the season, ranking 17th in the NFL. Similar passers in this mediocre group include Baker Mayfield, Derek Carr and even Brock Purdy.
Keep in mind, too, that in this span, the Jets have actually won three games compared to two losses. Many would argue that the Jets being 4-4 with Wilson as their quarterback is a miracle. He’s playing mostly average football and is good for roughly one big mistake per game.
So why does nearly everyone in New York still blame Wilson for all of the Jets’ problems? Well, that’s because they are not yet aware that the Jets’ offensive line, not Zach Wilson, is their primary issue.
New York’s offensive line was regarded as a weakness before this season. Their Week 1 starting unit of Duane Brown, Laken Tomlinson, Connor McGovern, Alijah Vera-Tucker and Mekhi Becton may have been mediocre at best. But three of those five have since been injured, while Becton has moved from the right side to the left to fill in for Brown.
It could have been easily predicted, especially after Rodgers’ injury occurred on a sack, but the results have actually been poor on a potentially historic level.