It's safe to say that NY Jets quarterback Zach Wilson has struggled in his rookie season. Now, it certainly shouldn't come as a surprise that a rookie quarterback with a subpar supporting cast isn't lighting up stat sheets, but there's no denying that Wilson has had his fair share of issues in 2021.
That said, context is always crucial when analyzing quarterbacks — or really anything, in reality.
Wilson's struggles fall on his shoulders, there's no denying that. But the rookie second overall pick hasn't exactly been done any favors by his external factors.
Timo Riske of Pro Football Focus recently charted the strength of schedule of every starting quarterback this season, determined by a variety of factors. One name ranked above the rest.
By a pretty sizable margin, Wilson has faced the most difficult schedule of any QB this season. The only quarterback even in his ballpark is Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers.
In fact, the gap between Wilson and the third-highest QB is roughly the same as the gap between the third-highest QB and the 12th-highest QB. That should provide a clearer picture of how difficult Wilson's schedule has been.
Zach Wilson has been put in a very difficult position early in his NFL career
In 10 starts (nine full starts), Wilson has thrown for 1,911 yards scoring nine total touchdowns (six passing) while tossing 11 interceptions. His completion percentage sits at a lowly 56 percent while his yards per attempt is just 6.2.
Wilson ranks close to last in most statistical categories, but he's also shown considerable improvement since returning from a knee injury that sidelined him for four weeks.
The former BYU standout has just two interceptions since returning and only four turnover-worthy plays (zero in his last two starts) over that timeframe. Combine that with his five total touchdowns over that span and it's clear that Wilson has done a much better job of protecting the football.
Of course, he still has a long way to go before he could be considered a viable starting quarterback, but he's a rookie going through expected rookie growing pains.
He's also been saddled with a lackluster supporting cast that's only been made worse by injuries to the likes of Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, Mekhi Becton, and most recently George Fant.
When you throw in how difficult his schedule has been, it's not a surprise that he's struggled as much as he has. Wilson has faced each of the top-three best pass defenses in the NFL this season with his "easiest" matchup coming against an Atlanta Falcons defense that ranks 24th against the pass.
This obviously doesn't excuse Wilson's accuracy issues or his early-season turnover woes. But it does provide added context to the all-important quarterback evaluation discussion.
Ultimately, Zach Wilson will need to continue to show improvement if he wants to establish himself as the long-term quarterback solution in New York.
He has to be better — there's denying that. But it's important not to ignore context when it comes to analysis and evaluation.