New York Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson has made major strides in one crucial area since the beginning of the year — turnovers.
Before his Week 7 injury, the number two overall pick had thrown nine interceptions with zero fumbles lost in five and a half games. Since his return, that turnover number dropped to three (two INTs and one fumble lost) over his past five outings.
Obviously, it’s been a nice correction for Wilson in year one but on January 1, 2022, Jets X-Factor analyst Michael Nania announced that it’s actually been a record-breaking run for the rookie.
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Wilson Breaks 1965 Record, Eyes Another in Week 17
According to Nania, “Zach Wilson has thrown [one] or [zero] INTs in [eight] consecutive games. It’s the longest streak by a rookie QB in Jets history, beating Joe Namath’s 1965 record ([seven] games). No other rookie in team history has done it in more than [five] straight games.”
Many fans hoped that Wilson would break the Jets single-season passing record held by Namath in 2021, but this small accomplishment will have to do for now. The first-year signal-caller is also closing in on a second franchise record in Week 17, per Nania.
“If he throws [zero] INTs tomorrow he will set the new team rookie record for consecutive [zero]-INT games,” the Jets expert added. Wilson currently has three-straight performances without an interception. Week 17 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would make four.
Nania also noted that “the team record (rookie or non-rookie) for [zero]-INT games is held by [Mark] Sanchez with [seven] straight from the end of 2009 into 2010.” If Wilson keeps a clean record in Weeks 17 and 18, he could attempt a run at Sanchez’s record in 2022.
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More From Nania
It turns out that the BYU product’s recent streak is not just impressive from a Jets perspective. Nania wrote that his three turnovers post-Week 6 rank second for all NFL quarterbacks behind Aaron Rodgers.
“It’s Aaron Rodgers [0.11] and then it’s Zach Wilson [0.50]. Not too shabby. Russell Wilson [0.57] joins them as the only other quarterback with under 0.6 turnovers per contest since Week 6,” he stated.
Of course, most of the competition has played in more games than the Jets QB because of his injury. At the same time, Wilson’s last three outings are on an even playing field with everyone else.
According to Heavy on Jets own Paul Esden Jr., “Zach Wilson [currently] has the fourth most consecutive pass attempts [without] throwing an interception” at 103 active pass attempts.
That number trails Rodgers (188), Matt Ryan (138), and Joe Burrow (107). Wilson could rise on the NFL active leaderboard with another clean game against the Bucs and a mistake from one of the three players listed above.
What Does It All Mean?
Some may read this and say, who cares? The Jets have only won two Wilson starts since Week 7 and they’re 1-2 in the most recent non-INT outings.
Still, these small achievements show two key signs of progress — awareness and confidence.
The media and a large portion of the fanbase wanted the rookie to play more within Mike LaFleur’s system after his inconsistent start. Sure, that meant less spectacular throws for now but it also meant a safer style of play.
Wilson has taken the role of the game manager in stride — with a splash of excitement here and there — and you can’t fault him for hearing the criticisms and learning from them. Now that the rookie seems to have regained some confidence, the hope is that he’ll find that balance between safe and spectacular.
The reason the Jets always had to choose the BYU product over a Mike White or a Mac Jones was his rare arm and playmaking talent. One can always be coached to play within an offense but some things cannot be taught.
The combination of both traits is what makes the good quarterbacks great.