Rodgers, Ryan, Brady Best Ever Protecting The Football

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Nov 30, 2012



By Scott Kacsmar
Cold Hard Football Facts’ Comeback King (@CaptainComeback)

After throwing a career-high five interceptions against Atlanta on Thursday night, Drew Brees leads the NFL in interceptions with 16.

It's a high number in this day and age when turnover rates by quarterbacks are the lowest in history. Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan and Tom Brady are the all-time leaders in lowest turnover rate (INTs and fumbles) among all quarterbacks in NFL history.

Conversley, the current leaders in interceptions may have never included such an impressive list of names: Drew Brees (16), Tony Romo (15), Philip Rivers (14), Matt Ryan (13), Andrew Luck (13), and Brandon Weeden (13).

Weeden aside, this is a list of quarterbacks expected to be great. Some of them have been throughout the season, but there have been rough patches.

Ryan just threw five interceptions in a comeback win over Arizona in Week 11.

That’s the thing about turnovers. Some are insignificant, while some are just…

You can overcome turnovers, but Brees did not in a crucial game, and the Saints are 5-7.

In addition to 16 interceptions, Brees has also fumbled five times, losing one.

It would seem as though he is very turnover prone in 2012, but consider this comparison with all fumbles created equally as turnovers.

  • Drew Brees has 21 turnovers on 526 drop backs for a turnover rate of 3.99 percent, which is above his usual average.
  • Brandon Weeden has 17 turnovers on 434 drop backs for a turnover rate of 3.92 percent, which actually is not that bad for a rookie on a bad offense.

By converting turnovers into a rate stat, it is more informative than just the raw number.

Last season we looked at the turnover rate for all quarterbacks in NFL history with a minimum of 1,500 attempts, including both interceptions and fumbles. Let’s update that data through last night (start of Week 13), but we also highly recommend you review last year’s piece if you have never seen it before.

The formula and methodology are below.

 

The List

Here is the all-time list for turnover rate. We were tempted to add a column for “Ass Fumbles,” but only one player had one and it would not fit the screen properly. Sorry, Mark. “DB” stands for drop back.

Rk

QB

Pass

Sck

Run

DB

Fum

Fum%

INT

INT%

TO

TO%

1

Aaron Rodgers

2492

197

288

2977

34

1.14

45

1.81

79

2.65

2

Matt Ryan

2484

107

197

2788

23

0.82

59

2.38

82

2.94

3

Tom Brady

5741

291

394

6426

80

1.24

118

2.06

198

3.08

4

Joe Montana

5391

313

457

6161

53

0.86

139

2.58

192

3.12

5

Neil O'Donnell

3229

259

215

3703

51

1.38

68

2.11

119

3.21

6

Peyton Manning

7619

247

364

8230

59

0.72

206

2.70

265

3.22

7

Jeff Garcia

3676

181

467

4324

59

1.36

83

2.26

142

3.28

8

Donovan McNabb

5374

410

616

6400

95

1.48

117

2.18

212

3.31

9

Mark Brunell

4640

390

513

5543

76

1.37

108

2.33

184

3.32

10

Steve Young

4149

358

722

5229

68

1.30

107

2.58

175

3.35

11

Matthew Stafford

1624

89

73

1786

13

0.73

47

2.89

60

3.36

12

David Garrard

2281

179

380

2840

44

1.55

54

2.37

98

3.45

13

Matt Schaub

2657

139

172

2968

38

1.28

67

2.52

105

3.54

14

Kyle Orton

2214

132

110

2456

30

1.22

57

2.57

87

3.54

15

Joe Flacco

2350

165

190

2705

44

1.63

53

2.26

97

3.59

16

Drew Brees

5971

230

295

6496

72

1.11

162

2.71

234

3.60

17

Bernie Kosar

3365

273

180

3818

51

1.34

87

2.59

138

3.61

18

Rich Gannon

4206

302

521

5029

79

1.57

104

2.47

183

3.64

19

Matt Hasselbeck

5018

342

339

5699

63

1.11

147

2.93

210

3.68

20

Chad Pennington

2471

162

180

2813

41

1.46

64

2.59

105

3.73

21

Troy Aikman

4715

259

327

5301

58

1.09

141

2.99

199

3.75

22

Ben Roethlisberger

3629

332

308

4269

58

1.36

104

2.87

162

3.79

23

Marc Bulger

3171

254

118

3543

42

1.19

93

2.93

135

3.81

24

Jim McMahon

2573

226

338

3137

30

0.96

90

3.50

120

3.83

25

Brad Johnson

4326

251

276

4853

64

1.32

122

2.82

186

3.83

26

Bert Jones

2551

232

247

3030

16

0.53

101

3.96

117

3.86

27

Charlie Batch

1568

159

172

1899

23

1.21

51

3.25

74

3.90

28

Jason Campbell

2173

153

224

2550

48

1.88

52

2.39

100

3.92

29

Joey Harrington

2538

124

142

2804

25

0.89

85

3.35

110

3.92

30

Steve McNair

4544

254

669

5467

99

1.81

119

2.62

218

3.99

31

Steve Bono

1701

76

125

1902

34

1.79

42

2.47

76

4.00

32

Tony Romo

3048

168

181

3397

49

1.44

87

2.85

136

4.00

33

Philip Rivers

3413

203

205

3821

61

1.60

92

2.70

153

4.00

34

Ken Anderson

4475

398

397

5270

52

0.99

160

3.58

212

4.02

35

Carson Palmer

3994

201

209

4404

50

1.14

128

3.20

178

4.04

36

Jim Harbaugh

3918

361

561

4840

79

1.63

117

2.99

196

4.05

37

Dan Marino

8358

270

301

8929

110

1.23

252

3.02

362

4.05

38

Jeff George

3967

358

168

4493

70

1.56

113

2.85

183

4.07

39

Doug Flutie

2151

107

338

2596

38

1.46

68

3.16

106

4.08

40

Matt Cassel

2044

160

220

2424

42

1.73

57

2.79

99

4.08

41

Kordell Stewart

2358

170

601

3129

44

1.41

84

3.56

128

4.09

42

Neil Lomax

3153

362

222

3737

63

1.69

90

2.85

153

4.09

43

Trent Green

3740

259

243

4242

60

1.41

114

3.05

174

4.10

44

Tony Eason

1564

177

134

1875

26

1.39

51

3.26

77

4.11

45

Ken O'Brien

3602

353

174

4129

72

1.74

98

2.72

170

4.12

46

Elvis Grbac

2445

129

163

2737

32

1.17

81

3.31

113

4.13

47

Jeff Hostetler

2338

207

316

2861

48

1.68

71

3.04

119

4.16

48

Alex Smith

2176

196

210

2582

45

1.74

63

2.90

108

4.18

49

Joe Theismann

3602

340

355

4297

42

0.98

138

3.83

180

4.19

50

Byron Leftwich

1605

92

137

1834

35

1.91

42

2.62

77

4.20

51

John Elway

7250

516

774

8540

137

1.60

226

3.12

363

4.25

52

Michael Vick

2854

271

786

3911

86

2.20

81

2.84

167

4.27

53

Jeff Blake

3241

248

418

3907

68

1.74

99

3.05

167

4.27

54

Randall Cunningham

4289

484

775

5548

105

1.89

134

3.12

239

4.31

55

Drew Bledsoe

6717

467

385

7569

123

1.63

206

3.07

329

4.35

56

Aaron Brooks

2963

235

362

3560

64

1.80

92

3.10

156

4.38

57

Jim Everett

4923

257

257

5437

64

1.18

175

3.55

239

4.40

58

Josh Freeman

1664

93

181

1938

33

1.70

53

3.19

86

4.44

59

Brett Favre

10169

525

602

11296

166

1.47

336

3.30

502

4.44

60

Stan Humphries

2516

144

150

2810

41

1.46

84

3.34

125

4.45

61

Roger Staubach

2958

313

410

3681

55

1.49

109

3.68

164

4.46

62

Bubby Brister

2212

193

191

2596

38

1.46

78

3.53

116

4.47

63

Rick Mirer

2043

199

242

2484

35

1.41

76

3.72

111

4.47

64

Eli Manning

4315

207

209

4731

72

1.52

140

3.24

212

4.48

65

Phil Simms

4647

477

349

5473

93

1.70

157

3.38

250

4.57

66

Ryan Fitzpatrick

2100

134

237

2471

37

1.50

76

3.62

113

4.57

67

Fran Tarkenton

6467

483

675

7625

84

1.10

266

4.11

350

4.59

68

Erik Kramer

2299

122

153

2574

40

1.55

79

3.44

119

4.62

69

Jay Fiedler

1717

114

219

2050

29

1.41

66

3.84

95

4.63

70

Jim Kelly

4779

323

304

5406

76

1.41

175

3.66

251

4.64

71

Brian Griese

2796

193

238

3227

51

1.58

99

3.54

150

4.65

72

Jay Cutler

2807

190

246

3243

54

1.67

97

3.46

151

4.66

73

Jake Plummer

4350

284

428

5062

75

1.48

161

3.70

236

4.66

74

Mark Rypien

2613

97

127

2837

45

1.59

88

3.37

133

4.69

75

Chris Miller

2892

209

178

3279

52

1.59

102

3.53

154

4.70

76

Bill Kenney

2430

191

123

2744

43

1.57

86

3.54

129

4.70

77

Greg Landry

2300

316

430

3046

41

1.35

103

4.48

144

4.73

78

Dave Brown

1634

181

192

2007

37

1.84

58

3.55

95

4.73

79

Doug Williams

2507

84

220

2811

41

1.46

93

3.71

134

4.77

80

Kerry Collins

6261

337

374

6972

139

1.99

196

3.13

335

4.80

81

Wade Wilson

2428

217

239

2884

38

1.32

102

4.20

140

4.85

82

Gus Frerotte

3106

207

196

3509

65

1.85

106

3.41

171

4.87

83

Roman Gabriel

4498

348

358

5204

105

2.02

149

3.31

254

4.88

84

Jake Delhomme

2932

168

175

3275

62

1.89

101

3.44

163

4.98

85

Bobby Hebert

3121

178

195

3494

50

1.43

124

3.97

174

4.98

86

Ron Jaworski

4117

363

257

4737

72

1.52

164

3.98

236

4.98

87

Steve Beuerlein

3328

332

225

3885

82

2.11

112

3.37

194

4.99

88

Mark Sanchez

1764

118

115

1997

39

1.95

61

3.46

100

5.01

89

David Carr

2266

267

302

2835

71

2.50

71

3.13

142

5.01

90

Warren Moon

6823

458

543

7824

161

2.06

233

3.41

394

5.04

91

Bill Nelsen

1905

146

84

2135

41

1.92

67

3.52

108

5.06

92

Vinny Testaverde

6701

417

430

7548

116

1.54

267

3.98

383

5.07

93

Bill Munson

1982

192

130

2304

37

1.61

80

4.04

117

5.08

94

Sonny Jurgensen

4262

240

181

4683

50

1.07

189

4.43

239

5.10

95

Kurt Warner

4070

260

173

4503

102

2.27

128

3.14

230

5.11

96

Chris Chandler

4005

380

371

4756

98

2.06

146

3.65

244

5.13

97

Boomer Esiason

5205

318

447

5970

123

2.06

184

3.54

307

5.14

98

Tony Banks

2356

227

246

2829

73

2.58

73

3.10

146

5.16

99

Steve Bartkowski

3456

356

178

3990

62

1.55

144

4.17

206

5.16

100

Gary Danielson

1932

183

186

2301

41

1.78

78

4.04

119

5.17

101

Daunte Culpepper

3199

298

514

4011

102

2.54

106

3.31

208

5.19

102

Tim Couch

1714

166

124

2004

37

1.85

67

3.91

104

5.19

103

Steve DeBerg

5024

296

204

5524

83

1.50

204

4.06

287

5.20

104

Mike Pagel

1509

115

136

1760

29

1.65

63

4.17

92

5.23

105

Tommy Kramer

3651

249

214

4114

59

1.43

158

4.33

217

5.27

106

Jay Schroeder

2808

208

242

3258

64

1.96

108

3.85

172

5.28

107

Kyle Boller

1519

123

176

1818

42

2.31

54

3.55

96

5.28

108

Jim Zorn

3149

213

322

3684

54

1.47

141

4.48

195

5.29

109

Rex Grossman

1562

92

81

1735

32

1.84

60

3.84

92

5.30

110

Scott Mitchell

2346

155

172

2673

50

1.87

92

3.92

142

5.31

111

Rodney Peete

2346

244

270

2860

71

2.48

81

3.45

152

5.31

112

Billy Joe Tolliver

1707

125

99

1931

39

2.02

64

3.75

103

5.33

113

Jon Kitna

4442

323

313

5078

110

2.17

165

3.71

275

5.42

114

Brian Sipe

3439

224

223

3886

62

1.60

149

4.33

211

5.43

115

Archie Manning

3642

396

384

4422

73

1.65

173

4.75

246

5.56

116

Bart Starr

3149

235

247

3631

64

1.76

138

4.38

202

5.56

117

Bob Griese

3429

335

261

4025

52

1.29

172

5.02

224

5.57

118

Mike Tomczak

2337

114

198

2649

42

1.59

106

4.54

148

5.59

119

John Brodie

4491

142

235

4868

48

0.99

224

4.99

272

5.59

120

Joe Ferguson

4519

312

353

5184

82

1.58

209

4.62

291

5.61

121

Jim Hart

5076

282

159

5517

65

1.18

247

4.87

312

5.66

122

Dave Krieg

5311

494

417

6222

153

2.46

199

3.75

352

5.66

123

Dan Fouts

5604

319

224

6147

106

1.72

242

4.32

348

5.66

124

Trent Dilfer

3172

263

248

3683

82

2.23

129

4.07

211

5.73

125

Billy Kilmer

2984

206

362

3552

58

1.63

146

4.89

204

5.74

126

Craig Morton

3786

405

215

4406

68

1.54

187

4.94

255

5.79

127

Daryle Lamonica

2601

136

166

2903

32

1.10

138

5.31

170

5.86

128

Frank Ryan

2133

150

310

2593

42

1.62

111

5.20

153

5.90

129

Jim Plunkett

3701

380

323

4404

62

1.41

198

5.35

260

5.90

130

Mike Livingston

1751

152

156

2059

39

1.89

83

4.74

122

5.93

131

Johnny Unitas

5186

230

450

5866

95

1.62

253

4.88

348

5.93

132

Milt Plum

2419

74

217

2710

34

1.25

127

5.25

161

5.94

133

Danny White

2950

245

159

3354

68

2.03

132

4.47

200

5.96

134

Mark Malone

1648

86

159

1893

33

1.74

81

4.92

114

6.02

135

Richard Todd

2967

264

259

3490

50

1.43

161

5.43

211

6.05

136

Marc Wilson

2081

210

141

2432

46

1.89

102

4.90

148

6.09

137

Tom Flores

1715

9

82

1806

18

1.00

92

5.36

110

6.09

138

Charley Johnson

3392

242

196

3830

56

1.46

181

5.34

237

6.19

139

Vince Ferragamo

1615

94

60

1769

19

1.07

91

5.63

110

6.22

140

Len Dawson

3741

216

294

4251

84

1.98

183

4.89

267

6.28

141

Terry Bradshaw

3901

307

444

4652

84

1.81

210

5.38

294

6.32

142

Eric Hipple

1546

160

145

1851

47

2.54

70

4.53

117

6.32

143

Joe Namath

3762

150

71

3983

33

0.83

220

5.85

253

6.35

144

John Hadl

4687

198

351

5236

73

1.39

268

5.72

341

6.51

145

Dan Pastorini

3055

246

216

3517

69

1.96

161

5.27

230

6.54

146

Norm Snead

4353

270

212

4835

60

1.24

257

5.90

317

6.56

147

Jack Trudeau

1644

103

97

1844

52

2.82

69

4.20

121

6.56

148

Don Meredith

2308

218

242

2768

71

2.57

111

4.81

182

6.58

149

Mike Phipps

1799

172

254

2225

39

1.75

108

6.00

147

6.61

150

Billy Wade

2523

47

318

2888

57

1.97

134

5.31

191

6.61

151

Y.A. Tittle

3817

54

291

4162

56

1.35

221

5.79

277

6.66

152

Steve Grogan

3593

252

445

4290

81

1.89

208

5.79

289

6.74

153

Earl Morrall

2689

174

235

3098

63

2.03

148

5.50

211

6.81

154

Lynn Dickey

3125

297

140

3562

64

1.80

179

5.73

243

6.82

155

Don Majkowski

1905

180

248

2333

59

2.53

101

5.30

160

6.86

156

Ken Stabler

3793

281

118

4192

66

1.57

222

5.85

288

6.87

157

Otto Graham

1565

0

306

1871

35

1.87

94

6.01

129

6.89

158

Charlie Conerly

2833

0

270

3103

54

1.74

167

5.89

221

7.12

159

Tobin Rote

2907

0

635

3542

67

1.89

191

6.57

258

7.28

160

Norm Van Brocklin

2895

0

102

2997

45

1.50

178

6.15

223

7.44

161

Jack Kemp

3073

59

356

3488

78

2.24

183

5.96

261

7.48

162

Bobby Layne

3700

0

611

4311

80

1.86

243

6.57

323

7.49

163

Sammy Baugh

2995

0

324

3319

47

1.42

203

6.78

250

7.53

164

Sid Luckman

1744

0

204

1948

15

0.77

132

7.57

147

7.55

165

Cotton Davidson

1752

0

129

1881

35

1.86

108

6.16

143

7.60

166

Ed Brown

1987

80

265

2332

40

1.72

138

6.95

178

7.63

167

Babe Parilli

3330

32

383

3745

71

1.90

220

6.61

291

7.77

168

George Blanda

4007

17

135

4159

47

1.13

277

6.91

324

7.79

169

Frank Tripucka

1745

0

43

1788

21

1.17

124

7.11

145

8.11

170

Eddie LeBaron

1796

9

202

2007

44

2.19

141

7.85

185

9.22

171

Bob Waterfield

1617

0

75

1692

36

2.13

128

7.92

164

9.69

 

 

Comparison to 2011

Several active players (23 to be exact) were on this list last season, which came out after Week 7 of the 2011 season. Let’s compare how far they have gone up or down the list since then.

 

2011-12 Comp.

All-Time Rank

Turnover Rate

QB

2011

2012

Diff.

2011

2012

Diff.

Aaron Rodgers

1

1

0

2.85

2.65

0.20

Alex Smith

75

48

27

4.75

4.18

0.57

Ben Roethlisberger

30

22

8

3.96

3.79

0.17

Byron Leftwich

47

50

-3

4.22

4.20

0.02

Carson Palmer

35

35

0

4.05

4.04

0.01

Charlie Batch

23

27

-4

3.81

3.90

-0.08

David Carr

81

89

-8

4.98

5.01

-0.03

David Garrard

11

12

-1

3.45

3.45

0.00

Drew Brees

16

16

0

3.68

3.60

0.08

Eli Manning

68

64

4

4.66

4.48

0.18

Jason Campbell

26

28

-2

3.85

3.92

-0.08

Jay Cutler

71

72

-1

4.70

4.66

0.04

Joe Flacco

27

15

12

3.86

3.59

0.27

Kyle Orton

13

14

-1

3.63

3.54

0.09

Matt Cassel

17

40

-23

3.69

4.08

-0.39

Matt Hasselbeck

20

19

1

3.77

3.68

0.09

Matt Ryan

2

2

0

3.10

2.94

0.16

Matt Schaub

15

13

2

3.66

3.54

0.13

Michael Vick

51

52

-1

4.29

4.27

0.02

Peyton Manning

5

6

-1

3.27

3.22

0.05

Philip Rivers

21

33

-12

3.78

4.00

-0.22

Tom Brady

7

3

4

3.30

3.08

0.22

Tony Romo

50

32

18

4.28

4.00

0.28

Fittingly, it has been Matt Cassel and Philip Rivers taking the plunge with their increase in turnovers. Meanwhile there were considerable jumps for Tony Romo, Joe Flacco and especially Alex Smith.

If you were curious, on a very small sample size of 118 drop backs, Colin Kaepernick has a turnover rate of 3.39 percent.

Though he has some turnover issues this season, Drew Brees has so many plays in his career that the numbers barely move. He still comes in 16th all time, and yes it is strange to see Joe Flacco directly ahead of him.

 

The New Guys

Five players appear on the list after not meeting the 1,500-attempt requirement last season. They are Ryan Fitzpatrick, Rex Grossman, Matthew Stafford, Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman.

Grossman has the highest turnover rate (5.30 percent) of all active players, which makes sense. He is the “Sex Cannon” after all.

But no starter is higher than Sanchez (5.01 percent). While his interceptions are not good for his era, it is indeed the fumble rate that actually makes him look worse, ranking 141st out of 171 players. Remember, the fumble rate (1.95) is not as era dependent as interceptions.

From the same draft class of 2009, Stafford has the third lowest fumble rate (0.73), just behind Peyton Manning (0.72).

 

Conclusion: Turnovers will continue to fascinate us

Turnovers will always be a part of the NFL, and quarterbacks will always be judged by them. This season we are actually experiencing a record pace of pick-sixes thrown by quarterbacks.

Eyeballing the updated table, you definitely want to be under 4.00 percent in today’s game when it comes to turnover rate. The style of offense can certainly dictate where these numbers end up, but fumbling will be more consistent to a player than his inconsistent interception rate and total.

Drew Brees will survive the five-interception game, even if he does go on to lead the league in picks. Many great players have done that already.

You just want to avoid the critical ones, or doing it on such a big stage in an important game like last night. At least Brees’ career will not be remembered for that one unlike a certain quarterback who turned the ball over in epic, comedic fashion last Thursday night.

Turnover Rate: The Formula

Included as a reminder of what the turnover rate is, here is the formula. Calculating a quarterback’s turnover rate is simple.

Turnover % = Total Turnovers x 100%

                        Total Drop Backs

Total Turnovers = Fumbles + Interceptions

Total Drop Backs = Pass Attempts + Sacks + Rushes

The same idea can be applied for a “Fumble %.”

Fumble % = Total Fumbles    x 100%

                    Total Drop Backs

Disclaimer: Fumbles were used instead of fumbles lost due to a lack of data for the latter, plus the research from Football Outsiders that says fumble recoveries are random from year-to-year. Not fumbling the ball is a skill, and that is being rewarded here. Any time you fumble the ball you are giving the defense the opportunity for a recovery and turnover. So while the Turnover % may include a lot of fumbles that did not result in an actual turnover, for the purposes of this article, we are looking at all fumbles equally.

 

The Data

To officially qualify for rate statistics in the NFL, a quarterback must attempt at least 1,500 passes in the regular season. A total of 171 quarterbacks have done so, and they make up our sample size.

Out of the 171 quarterbacks, 35 of them have data that is incomplete in regards to the number of sacks, while two of those quarterbacks (Sammy Baugh, Sid Luckman) also have an incomplete number of fumbles.

Sacks are listed at nfl.com for all NFL seasons since 1963. They have the sack yardage for seasons back to 1947, but the times sacked only start in 1963. There are no sack stats (totals or yardage) for AFL seasons from 1960-66.

Individual fumbles are not listed at Pro-Football-Reference until the 1945 season; while nfl.com does not include fumbles until 1991 (fumbles lost begin with 1992).

Active players appear in bold, while the 35 players with incomplete data are in italics, as is the field of data that’s incomplete.

Only regular season data is included, and this is updated through Week 12 and the Week 13 Thursday game in the 2012 season.

 

Scott Kacsmar is a football writer/researcher who has contributed large quantities of data to Pro-Football-Reference.com, including the only standardized database of fourth quarter comebacks and game-winning drives. You can visit his blog for a complete writing archive. Please send any questions or comments to Scott at smk_42@yahoo.com, or you can follow him on Twitter at @CaptainComeback.


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