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Realistic Zach Wilson Take - and How I'll be Evaluating Him Year Two


Doggin94it
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14 minutes ago, Jets Voice of Reason said:

I feel like he also did way better against zone than man, which is a problem in our division. Our offensive performance in the division will be pretty big to see if we want to get anywhere.

Another metric to your point to pay attention to is how long he's holding the ball on average. This offense is really designed for quick hits and to choose your spot with vertical concepts if the defense calls for it.

I also would like to see if he gets better at play action and improves his completion rate on the short throws.

Really good point he seems to be well suited to pick zones apart but when it becomes a M2M situation, like Redzone, he struggles. I agree with most of what teh Doggin is saying but I think his footwork and not elite processing will cause him to not be consistent enough to be elite. Plus Yips! 

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33 minutes ago, Jets Voice of Reason said:

I feel like he also did way better against zone than man, which is a problem in our division. Our offensive performance in the division will be pretty big to see if we want to get anywhere.

Another metric to your point to pay attention to is how long he's holding the ball on average. This offense is really designed for quick hits and to choose your spot with vertical concepts if the defense calls for it.

I also would like to see if he gets better at play action and improves his completion rate on the short throws.

Man coverage has more to do with WR than QB. A WR who can't get open in man is useless.

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37 minutes ago, Jets Voice of Reason said:

I feel like he also did way better against zone than man, which is a problem in our division. Our offensive performance in the division will be pretty big to see if we want to get anywhere.

Another metric to your point to pay attention to is how long he's holding the ball on average. This offense is really designed for quick hits and to choose your spot with vertical concepts if the defense calls for it.

I also would like to see if he gets better at play action and improves his completion rate on the short throws.

Definitely. That's what I meant by "getting the ball out on time and in phase" - the ball should be consistently coming out at the top of his drop, no hitching or reseting. Obviously, the D will have something to say about that, and when the play is well covered it won't look like that. But when it's there, he needs to be seeing it and hitting it, on time and in rhythm

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I’m a big proponent of the idea that QB can, indeed, be developed. The staff made some mistakes last year, with starting Zach opening day a major one. Should’ve resigned Flacco and had him start the first 6-8 games while the rest of the team gelled and Zach learned from the sidelines. The void at TE was a problem, too. Hindsight is 20/20. 
 
A year later, and it’s good that Zach has all that experience. Holes on the roster have been filled. There’s talent and continuity. For the last couple of QBs, the team had neither. I have no idea where Zach’s gonna be this year, I just like that he’s in a position to succeed. He needs to look the part, as you said, by the second half of the year. I want to feel good about the kid next January. 

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26 minutes ago, thebuzzardman said:

But what about Mac Jones? 

Haven't watched him closely enough to have a detailed plan but if I were a Pats fan my primary concerns (from afar) would be the change in OC, how he plays in cold weather, and if he'll ever be more than just a game manager

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3 minutes ago, slats said:

I’m a big proponent of the idea that QB can, indeed, be developed. The staff made some mistakes last year, with starting Zach opening day a major one. Should’ve resigned Flacco and had him start the first 6-8 games while the rest of the team gelled and Zach learned from the sidelines. The void at TE was a problem, too. Hindsight is 20/20. 
 
A year later, and it’s good that Zach has all that experience. Holes on the roster have been filled. There’s talent and continuity. For the last couple of QBs, the team had neither. I have no idea where Zach’s gonna be this year, I just like that he’s in a position to succeed. He needs to look the part, as you said, by the second half of the year. I want to feel good about the kid next January. 

Not only should you be a proponent, it is what actually happens. 

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5 minutes ago, slats said:

I’m a big proponent of the idea that QB can, indeed, be developed. The staff made some mistakes last year, with starting Zach opening day a major one. Should’ve resigned Flacco and had him start the first 6-8 games while the rest of the team gelled and Zach learned from the sidelines. The void at TE was a problem, too. Hindsight is 20/20. 
 
A year later, and it’s good that Zach has all that experience. Holes on the roster have been filled. There’s talent and continuity. For the last couple of QBs, the team had neither. I have no idea where Zach’s gonna be this year, I just like that he’s in a position to succeed. He needs to look the part, as you said, by the second half of the year. I want to feel good about the kid next January. 

See, that's why I was never on team "let him sit behind a vet to start the year" last season. 2021 was always going to be a growth-and-development year, not a wins-and-push-for-the-playoffs year. Under those circumstances, you do what's better for the 2022 team (play the kid, let him get his lumps out of the way and start the growth), not what gives you the best chance to win ultimately meaningless games. The only reason not to is if you're afraid the QB is so mentally fragile that failure will break him, or that bad reps will breed bad habits.

ETA: On that topic, do you think there's anyone in the Bears organization who's sitting there today going "thank God we started Andy Dalton and Nick Foles for 7 games instead of letting Fields play, he's so much better off"?  Not that the Bears have a clue how to help a young QB, but still.

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2 minutes ago, Claymation said:

Better WR than the Jets, at least imo. They can beat man/press coverage.

Allen, Williams and Cook are leaps and bounds better than Moore, Davis and Griffin.

He also had the # 32 ranked OL and a HC who ended up getting fired but let's just gloss over that part.

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52 minutes ago, The Crusher said:

Elite QBs throw receivers open. 

That's my concern. I don't have a problem with the offense manufacturing easy reads for Wilson (that's their job after all), but he's going to have to consistently make plays when the defense doesn't guess wrong. 

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2 minutes ago, Claymation said:

Not only should you be a proponent, it is what actually happens. 

Lol, and yet it runs counter to where some people believe FQBs come from. 

2 minutes ago, Doggin94it said:

See, that's why I was never on team "let him sit behind a vet to start the year" last season. 2021 was always going to be a growth-and-development year, not a wins-and-push-for-the-playoffs year. Under those circumstances, you do what's better for the 2022 team (play the kid, let him get his lumps out of the way and start the growth), not what gives you the best chance to win ultimately meaningless games. The only reason not to is if you're afraid the QB is so mentally fragile that failure will break him, or that bad reps will breed bad habits.

I think the bad habit thing happened. The OL didn’t know what it was doing early in the year and the whole offense was in somewhat of disarray as a result. Having a guy like Flacco deal with that for 6 weeks or so while talking to Zach on sidelines, I think, would’ve been beneficial. I see your point, though, and nothing can be done about it now. This year the circumstances shouldn’t be excuses, which they were last year. 

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4 minutes ago, Jetsfan80 said:

He also had the # 32 ranked OL and a HC who ended up getting fired but let's just gloss over that part.

You are saying that Herbert can throw a WR open as a rookie. What does a HC have to do with that?

The SD WRs can beat man coverage, the Jets WRs last year could not. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? It is a simple yes or no question.

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I suspect Zach is effected by outside noise at times.  during last year training camp all reports were coming out good then the team had the Green and White scrimmage.  It was widely reported his whole family and friends flew in (jetblue) to see him play in that scrimmage.  Again widely reported he sucked during that scrimmage, it was just a scrimmage.  coincidence? who knows but then the his last preseason game he looked flawless, then Carolina game also widely reported the state of Utah flying in to see him.  He did not look all that bad but was average at best.  again who knows but he is a young kid dying to succeed.  At his age I was drinking myself silly and coming in all hours of the morning but this kid does not drink and is all business all the time. Maybe a bit too wired to succeed.  I hope as he matures, he can calm down a bit to focus more, and not let any outside noise distract him if that indeed is the case.

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1 hour ago, Jets Voice of Reason said:

I feel like he also did way better against zone than man, which is a problem in our division. Our offensive performance in the division will be pretty big to see if we want to get anywhere.

Another metric to your point to pay attention to is how long he's holding the ball on average. This offense is really designed for quick hits and to choose your spot with vertical concepts if the defense calls for it.

I also would like to see if he gets better at play action and improves his completion rate on the short throws.

Drop backs.  He couldnt get them right.  Hard to run this offense if you're taking 2-3 extra steps on every drop back.  Above all else, that's what I want to see from him.  Perfect drop backs so the timing of the play isnt thrown off immediately, nothing else really matters.  

 

 

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16 minutes ago, Claymation said:

You are saying that Herbert can throw a WR open as a rookie. What does a HC have to do with that?

The SD WRs can beat man coverage, the Jets WRs last year could not. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? It is a simple yes or no question.

Just because WR's CAN beat man coverage doesn't mean they do it on every play.  Herbert threw for 4,336 yards, 31 TDs and 10 INTs as a rookie.  Are you suggesting that in all that production, he didn't throw receivers open from time to time?

And OL protection absolutely matters in the equation.  If your OL doesn't give you much time, then having the ability to throw receivers open is an absolutely essential trait for a QB.  It's an excuse we've been hearing for bad Jets QB's for well over a decade.  "NO ONE WAS OPEN" or "HE WAS RUNNING FOR HIS LIFE OUT THERE" really doesn't fly as a consistent excuse.  Nor is it usually even accurate.  Fans/media have been going to games and reported seeing WR's who are indeed open, and QB's who have time to throw but the QB simply doesn't find him and either takes a sack or makes a bad decision with the ball instead.

Good QB's make plays in this league and bad QB's don't.  We've seen that consistently and the long list of excuses made don't end up being accurate in the end.  The likes of Mark Sanchez and Sam Darnold didn't perform markedly better even when their situations improved when they moved on to other, more competent teams.  Meanwhile, a guy like Matthew Stafford made plays for a long time in this league even with bad teams around him.

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2 hours ago, maury77 said:

@Doggin94it I agree with most of your post (with the exception that I see a good arm, not an elite arm, and as @Warfish stated, I didn't see many plays that only Wilson could make), however, I think a big area that needs to be watched is whether Wilson's pocket management improves. Aside from his accuracy, I thought his pocket management was Wilson's worst area. We need to see him stop bailing the pocket so early and running backwards; instead, we need to see improved confidence and stepping up into the pocket. 

This is a big one for me that wasn’t mentioned in the original post.  Overall pocket awareness and not holding the ball too long and taking unnecessary sacks.  Zach was brutal at this in the beginning of the year (understandable), and fared better after returning from injury.  He needs to keep improving on this, knowing when to get the ball out and sliding around the pocket in order to avoid the rush and extend plays.  

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3 hours ago, Doggin94it said:

So much of this board is irretrievably down on Wilson based on a statistically terrible year. And that makes perfect sense: QBs who are as statistically terrible as Wilson was only rarely develop into playable NFL starters, let alone elite QBs. Plus, we all just watched this movie with Darnold - a QB with high-end physical traits and improv skill who failed because he couldn't read defenses or run plays on schedule, all while his flaws were being papered over with the "no weapons" excuse. And last year confirmed it was an excuse, not a reason. D.J. Moore and Anderson are a very good 1-2 set of receivers  McCaffrey is an elite RB (even if only available half the season) and Hubbard isn't terrible. Thomas, Arnold, and Tremble are competent at TE. 5 years in, Darnold was still throwing for less than 60% completions and more INTs than TDs. Why should anyone expect Zach's trajectory to be any different?

You shouldn't, There's absolutely zero reason to expect Wilson to carve a different path; nothing he put on tape last year should give anybody any confidence that he will. But there are real reasons to think he could, and what I'll be watching for this year is whether those reasons are carrying forward into reality, not (yet) wins and losses.  (Yes, @Warfish, I can hear your groans all the way to Long Island). Let's talk about those reasons.

  1. Yes, physical skill. There's no question Wilson can physically make every throw in the game; he has an elite arm. @Jetsfan80's List of Quarterback SadnessTM is littered with 1st and 2nd round prospects who absolutely did not fit that definition: Couch, Bradford (especially post-injury), Mirer, Mariota, Shuler, Harrington, Young, Sanchez, Leinart, Ware, Klingler etc. None of those guys had anywhere near Wilson's arm talent, and many of them were barely even passable (especially as the game developed after they were drafted). They were taken based on other things - college productivity, intangibles, accuracy, personality - after playing in systems that helped minimize that shortcoming. Wilson also has more than enough mobility to threaten defenses with his legs and make plays off-schedule; he's not a pocket statue like Carr, Boller, etc. He absolutely has the physical ability to be a great QB in the league.
  2. Work ethic. If there's been one through-line in the reports about Wilson it's that he's driven and absolutely dedicated to putting in the work needed to do well at being an NFL QB. If he busts, which is still an option, it's not going to be because he's on the Jamarcus Russell, Johnny Manziel path. This is a necessary but not sufficient component of playing QB in the NFL.
  3. In-season flashes and development: Wilson not only has the physical skill to make elite, "not many guys can do that" plays in the NFL, he's actually shown it in game (against the Titans in particular, of course). And there was clear growth in his decision making from Week 1 to Week 17. Wilson threw 7 of his 11 picks in the first 3 weeks of the season, and 9 in his first 5. Over the last 7 games of his rookie year, he threw 5TDs against only 2 INTs, and that includes his brutal games against Buffalo and NO. No, 5 TDs in 7 games and less than 19ppg is nowhere close to enough offensive production, but that's a different set of problems than we saw in weeks 1-5 (4 TDs, 9INTs, 13.4 ppg), and that difference means growth. That's not something we ever saw with Darnold, who was making the same mistakes in year 4 that he was in year 1.
  4. System consistency: This is a big one. Wilson gets to spend a second year in the same offensive system, which means he's not going to be spending his practice time and work time learning the basics - plays, terminology, concepts. Every practice rep is going to be about applying things he's done before and concepts he's already learned. And that applies to Lafleur, too - who has a lot of potential as an OC but had never done it before, and was learning on the job. 
  5. Context: By the time Wilson had developed enough to avoid making the dumb, hero-ball mistakes that screwed the team in the first few weeks of the season, the team around him had deteriorated to the point that it was actively detrimental. By the last weeks of the season, Braxton Berrios was our No. 1 healthy receiver (Wilson has a good rapport with Berrios but Berrios is a 3 at best) and Connor McDermott and Dan Feeney were getting starters reps on the OL. This year, Wilson will have both more than enough weaponz to threaten defenses with, a sufficiently good OL to keep him upright, and existing familiarity with many of those guys - Davis, Moore, Berrios, Carter - to prevent too slow a start.

What we don't know yet, though, is whether Wilson has the mental wherewithal to dissect defenses and make consistently correct decisions on-time in the system, and whether he has sufficient accuracy to not only increase his completion percentage with better weapons but also put his receivers in position to make plays after the catch. Over the first few weeks of the season, Wilson couldn't do that, and over the last few, he didn't have the players to do it even if he was capable. So what am I looking for this year? Two things:

1) Continued slow growth over the first part of the season. Can Wilson carry over his good decision making and ball-protection from the second half of last year? Is he getting the ball out on time and in phase? For the beginning of the season, I don't need to see anything more than a competent game-manager at QB. Let him consolidate his gains, avoid the hero ball, make the layups, add your own damn cliche to the list, you get the point. Show me that last year's finish wasn't a mirage and do incrementally better statistically given the much better playmakers (my God, we have actual TEs) he has to work with

2) A visible jump in the back half of the season, integrating those elite "how did he do that" splash plays with that good decision-making. Continue taking what the defense gives you but start taking what they don't want to give you when the moment requires it.

If those two things happen, we'll know we have our QB of the future. If just the first happens, but not the second, we'll have hope for year 3 - but no confidence that Zach can be a top-tier QB. If he can't manage the first, it's time to cut bait. 

 

 

Very fair analysis!  You should post more often, stuff like this makes for a great board.  Not sure why you received a few laughs.  I guess thoughtful analysis is funny to people trapped in their own little black and white worlds.  They’d rather be right than wrong & happy.  

I’ll choose gray and green ;).  I feel good about Zach entering this year for some of the reasons you called out, but not great for other reasons you called out.  Personally, I believe Zach is too smart and too driven not to get the processing part down.  Sometimes, his own analytical mind can get in his way, especially when he doesn’t have the feel down.  Once he gets the feel, the analytical part of his brain will become a true strength.  First year, it seemed to be a detriment and that’s why he was late on most of those interceptions early in the year.  Too much thinking which slowed his overall processing.  This is different than low IQ which slows down processing.  Lol.  

I’ve seen the latter with myself, which is why I feel I can relate.  Sometimes slower at a newer game as I analyze a lot of aspects but once it clicks I pass by those who took to it faster, leveraging those learnings and getting a better overall feel. 

I worry most about his short and medium accuracy.  Mechanics, maybe?  Rhythm?  Possibly?  Overthinking the throw?  This is different from the analytical point above.  There should be very little thought/analysis here.  It’s pure feel and my hope is that his mind doesn’t become his enemy on the most simple of tasks.

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37 minutes ago, Claymation said:
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I’m a big proponent of the idea that QB can, indeed, be developed.

Not only should you be a proponent, it is what actually happens. 

Care to cite some examples of "developed QB's"?

And maybe, for clarity, how you define a "developed QB".

I presume you have to mean something like "coached up and worked hard to be materially better than they were when they entered the league over the course of their first few (1-3) season" or something similar.

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