Zach Wilson might be the worst QB in modern NFL history

The numbers don't lie
NY Jets, Zach Wilson
NY Jets, Zach Wilson / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

Let's get the qualifiers out of the way first. Zach Wilson is far from the only issue with the NY Jets offense. He wasn't even the biggest (or second biggest, for that matter) issue with the offense in the team's 16-12 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday night.

The offense around Wilson is putrid, and no healthy quarterback on the roster is fixing everything. One more time: Zach Wilson is not the only problem with the Jets' offense.

Great. Cool. Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about Wilson and how historically inept he's been compared to his peers. This isn't meant to be a hit piece. If anything, I feel bad for Wilson. He shouldn't be in this position. This is on the Jets' current regime.

But while the Jets' offense continues to sputter at a historic rate, there has been one commonality in the team's offensive woes over the last three years. That commonality is Wilson.

He's bad. Not just regular backup quarterback bad. Not just average draft bust bad. He's historically terrible — like we're talking one of the worst statistical quarterbacks the modern NFL has ever seen.

That part's not an opinion. It's a statistical fact.

The numbers show just how historically inept Zach Wilson has been

Of the 90 qualified quarterbacks to play in the NFL since 2016, Wilson ranks dead last in EPA/play. The only other quarterbacks remotely close to him are Josh Rosen, P.J. Walker, and Mike Glennon.

Of course, even in Wilson's best (maybe?) season in 2023, he still ranks by far worst in total EPA. His -76 EPA is 20 points more than any other quarterback to play a game this season.

But hey, maybe EPA isn't your thing. Maybe you're not an analytics person. Maybe the only thing you care about is scoring touchdowns. After all, that is the most simplistic goal of any offense. Wilson is the worst at that too.

Wilson has thrown just 20 touchdowns on a whopping 931 career pass attempts. That's a 2.1 percent touchdown rate. No other player in NFL history with at least 900 pass attempts has been worse.

If we lower the pass attempts qualifier to just 500, it becomes even clearer the company that Wilson is sharing. The only other three quarterbacks in, again, NFL history, with a 2.1 percent touchdown rate have been Ryan Leaf, DeShone Kizer, and Chris Weinke.

Those guys were so bad that they didn't receive 900 pass attempts. And that's the thing here — there are worse quarterbacks who have played in the NFL than Zach Wilson. Heck, if Tim Boyle had 900+ pass attempts, his numbers would probably look very similar, if not worse.

But quarterbacks this bad do not get as many opportunities as Wilson has been given. They just don't. In fact, quite literally no other quarterback in modern NFL history has played as many snaps as Wilson and been as bad as he's been.

Again, that's not an opinion. Every metric out there suggests that.

Perhaps the most telling stat about Wilson's historic woes is how the Jets' offense has fared with and without him over the last three seasons.

Since the start of the 2021 season, the Jets have averaged a ridiculous 292 passing yards when Wilson plays fewer than 10 snaps (code for: Wilson doesn't play). That would rank first in the NFL by nearly 20 yards.

However, when Wilson plays more than 10 snaps for the Jets, they average just 168.2 passing yards per game — second-worst behind only the Chicago Bears.

This essentially means that the gap between Wilson and the likes of Joe Flacco, Mike White, and Josh Johnson is roughly equivalent to the gap between the best and worst passing offenses in football.

That statement obviously ignores context. Raw passing yards aren't the best-determining factor of a team's passing success. Still, every other quarterback who has played for the Jets over the last three years has performed significantly better in the same offensive system.

And we're not talking about the Patrick Mahomes of the world stepping in and doing better. We're talking about the shell of Joe Flacco. We're talking about a former Day 3 pick who had bounced around practice squads in Mike White. We're talking about the NFL's eternal journeyman in Josh Johnson.

Those are all backup quarterbacks. Flacco isn't even in the league anymore. Johnson is a third-stringer. Wilson has been significantly worse than all three in the same offensive system.

The NY Jets are most to blame for Zach Wilson's struggles

Zach Wilson is far from the only issue in a completely inept Jets offense. Replacing him with Tim Boyle or Trevor Siemian probably doesn't yield significantly better results. But that isn't the point here.

The Jets willingly went into the 2023 season with one of the worst quarterbacks the modern NFL has ever seen as their primary backup in a season they hoped to compete for a Super Bowl.

They then refused to adequately address the position after Aaron Rodgers' injury despite an out-of-this-world defense that keeps them competitive in every game. A below-average Jets offense gets this team to the playoffs. An average offense makes them serious Super Bowl contenders.

The Jets don't have anything close to that, and there probably isn't a solution on the roster.

So, the Jets are left with continuing to trot out the worst statistical quarterback in modern NFL history. They're stuck with an incompetent offensive coordinator and a lifeless wide receiver room for at least the rest of the season.

This is the Jets offense they signed up for. This is the quarterback they signed up for. All of this could have been prevented, but the Jets didn't see the need. They're content.

As much as this is a Zach Wilson problem, it's even more so a Jets problem. This is their fault. Wilson is not a competent NFL quarterback. Everyone but the Jets can see it.

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