Throughout the offseason, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg, Randy Lange and Caroline Hendershot will each give their predictions to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.
Today's question: What would a jump from Jets QB Zach Wilson in Year 2 Look Like?
EA: Wilson's knee injury last season turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The four-game absence gave him time to reflect, and he treated the second half of 2021 as a new season. He watched backups Mike White, Joe Flacco and Josh Johnson have success moving the ball and he reviewed all the situations he was part of in his first six games. In the back half, Wilson diagnosed and got the ball out quicker, was better with his feet and showed improved command of the offense. He played at a high level against the Buccaneers in Week 17 and finished the season without an interception in the Jets' final five games. Committed to making the jump in Year 2, Wilson put on good weight this offseason and said his energy and stamina are better. The added muscle should help him as he looks to increase his games played total from 13 to 17. The Jets have significantly upgraded the talent around Wilson on every level with the free agency signings of LG Laken Tomlinson, and TEs Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah, plus the drafting of WR Garrett Wilson and RB Breece Hall. They'll complement a young core that includes RG Alijah Vera-Tucker, WRs Elijah Moore and Corey Davis, and RB Michael Carter. In Wilson's rookie campaign, he was a 55.6% passer with 9 TDs and 11 INTs. He averaged nearly 180 yards per game through the air and added 4 TDs on the ground while being sacked 44 times. If he plays 17 games, a Wilson jump to 62% with 22 passing TDs is realistic. I'd also expect him to produce some more yards with his feet (185 in 2021) and the sack number should see a considerable decrease.
EG: Stepone isa continuation from how Zach Wilson ended last season. In Wilson's final six games as a rookie, he threw for 1,021 yards, 5 TDs and 1 INT with an additional 3 rushing scores. Over a 17-game season, that would be on pace to throw for 2,893 yards, 14 TDs, 3 INT and 8 rushing TDs. I think Wilson will have better numbers than that. He has an improved supporting cast at every level -- OL, TE, WR and RB -- and there are a lot of returning players who should be able to play more freely in their second season in OC Mike LaFleur's system. Influx of talent aside, Wilson, the No. 2 pick in 2021, looked more comfortable in the spring. He has a better command of the offense, which should allow him to play at a higher level. Based on last season's passing stats, top-18 should not be out of the question. Carson Wentz ranked No. 18 with 3,563 yards (209.6 avg over 17 games), which is 1,229 yards more than Wilson's total. Wilson, however, missed four games. Health plays a big role in success, but a 1,000-plus-yard jump is in the cards for the talented BYU product.
See the Jets' 90-man roster leading up to training camp.
RL: Without question, Zach Wilson showed progress over the second half of his rookie season compared to his first five-plus games before his knee injury. Also without question, Wilson needs to make more progress. The Jets know it, the fans know it and he knows it. These two items are fine: Turnover Reduction — He's entering '22 with streaks of 156 passes and 5 games without throwing an interception. Red Zone Production — Fans may not know that Wilson's best situational passing was done inside the opponents' 20. He completed 24 of 41 RZ passes for 115 yards, 6 TDs and no INTs for a 102.9 passer rating, eighth-best among qualifying QBs. Keep doing that, Zach. But improvements are needed here: Accuracy — At BYU in '20, Zach completed 73.5% of his passes. Last season he completed 59.2%. Yards/Attempt — His 6.09 average was better than only fellow rookie Trevor Lawrence's 6.05 last season. Drive Production — Wilson's plays/drive (5.3), yards/drive (24.8) and three-and-out rate (30.7%) were all near the bottom end among qualifying QBs. In Year 2 of Mike LaFleur's scheme plus with his diligence in working with his returning teammates plus all the new weapons brought in this offseason, I expect to see Wilson's drives, yards and accuracy improve, with Jets victories to follow.
CH: Last season, Zach Wilson had 213 completions for 2.334 yards, 9 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. He only played in 13 games due to his knee injury, missing play from weeks 8-11. Wilson also lost key players like Elijah Moore (who played in 11 games) and Corey Davis (who played in 9 games) for the season. This season, with the additions of Tyler Conklin, C.J. Uzomah, Garrett Wilson, Breece Hall, and a healthy Michael Carter, Elijah Moore and Corey Davis, I think Zach Wilson will make a big jump. I think Wilson could break the 3,000 passing yards benchmark, double his touchdowns (18), and reduce his interceptions to fewer than 10. Offensive weapons like Moore (who had 43 receptions for 538 yards and 5 TDs) and Corey Davis (who had 34 receptions for 492 yards and 4 TDs) were starting to hit their stride as the team developed more chemistry. I believe if they had stayed healthy, it would've been a different story for the team and Wilson last season. This season, if Wilson stays healthy, he'll add another 4 games to what he played last season.