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Eli Manning in elite INT territory

After a five-interception performance against a dominant Seattle pass defense, Eli Manning now has 25 interceptions this season. The odds are extremely low, but it’s not impossible that he throws ten more interceptions and ties the modern record set by Vinny Testaverde in 1988. That year, a 25-year-old Testaverde threw 35 interceptions when the league average interception rate was 3.91%. Since Testaverde threw 466 passes that season, we could say that a league-average quarterback would have thrown 18.2 interceptions; therefore, Testaverde threw 16.8 interceptions over average that year.

So far in 2013, the average interception rate is just 2.70%. Since Manning has thrown 485 passes, we would expect a league-average passer to record 13.1 interceptions. With 25 interceptions, that puts Manning at 11.9 interceptions above average. The table below shows the top 100 leaders in interceptions over average since 1950.

Rk
Quarterback
Year
Team
Lg
Age
INT
Att
LgAvg INTRt
INTovAvg
1Vinny Testaverde1988tamNFL25354663.91%16.8
2George Blanda1962otiAFL35424187%12.7
3Terry Bradshaw1970pitNFL22242185.21%12.7
4Eli Manning2013nygNFL32254852.7%11.9
5Jake Plummer1999crdNFL25243813.35%11.2
6Geno Smith2013nyjNFL23213802.7%10.7
7Joe Namath1975nyjNFL32283265.34%10.6
8Brett Favre2005gnbNFL36296073.07%10.3
9Eddie LeBaron1960dalNFL30252256.66%10
10Tommy Wade1965pitNFL2313665.12%9.6
11Norm Snead1973nygNFL34222355.31%9.5
12Kerry Collins1997carNFL25213813.05%9.4
13Tobin Rote1959detNFL31191625.95%9.4
14Zeke Bratkowski1960chiNFL29211756.66%9.3
15Dennis Shaw1971bufNFL24262915.78%9.2
16Peyton Manning1998cltNFL22285753.29%9.1
17Josh Freeman2009tamNFL21182903.08%9.1
18Eli Manning2010nygNFL29255392.96%9.1
19Bobby Thomason1956phiNFL28211647.31%9
20Jay Cutler2009chiNFL26265553.08%8.9
21Jack Kemp1964bufAFL29262696.37%8.9
22Mark Sanchez2009nyjNFL23203643.08%8.8
23Y.A. Tittle1955sfoNFL29282876.75%8.6
24George Herring1961denAFL27222116.39%8.5
25Craig Whelihan1998sdgNFL27193203.29%8.5
26Y.A. Tittle1964nygNFL38222814.82%8.5
27Bobby Hebert1996atlNFL36254883.39%8.4
28Brett Favre2010minNFL41193582.96%8.4
29Matthew Stafford2009detNFL21203773.08%8.4
30Ken Stabler1975raiNFL30242935.34%8.3
31Steve DeBerg1986tamNFL3212964.02%8.1
32Jake Delhomme2009carNFL34183213.08%8.1
33Ben Roethlisberger2006pitNFL24234693.17%8.1
34Richard Todd1980nyjNFL27304794.57%8.1
35Ken Stabler1978raiNFL33304065.4%8.1
36Rick Mirer1995seaNFL25203913.07%8
37Steve Grogan1980nweNFL27223064.57%8
38Charlie Conerly1951nygNFL30221897.42%8
39Zeke Bratkowski1954chiNFL23171306.95%8
40Heath Shuler1997norNFL26142033.05%7.8
41Boomer Esiason1990cinNFL29224023.55%7.7
42Milt Plum1963detNFL2812775.58%7.7
43Lynn Dickey1983gnbNFL34294844.41%7.6
44Scott Hunter1971gnbNFL24171635.78%7.6
45Ryan Leaf2000sdgNFL24183223.25%7.5
46Steve Grogan1988nweNFL35131403.91%7.5
47Jim Hart1967crdNFL23303975.67%7.5
48Dan Pastorini1981ramNFL32141524.29%7.5
49Donald Hollas1998raiNFL31162603.29%7.5
50Al Dorow1954wasNFL25171386.95%7.4
51Brett Favre2008nyjNFL39225222.81%7.3
52John Hadl1968sdgAFL28324405.62%7.3
53Babe Parilli1953gnbNFL23191667.17%7.1
54Ken Stabler1980otiNFL35284574.57%7.1
55Brett Favre1993gnbNFL24245223.25%7
56Billy Joe Tolliver1999norNFL33162683.35%7
57Ryan Leaf1998sdgNFL22152453.29%6.9
58Terry Hanratty1969pitNFL21131264.9%6.8
59Adrian Burk1951phiNFL24232187.42%6.8
60Todd Blackledge1985kanNFL24141724.17%6.8
61Gus Frerotte2007ramNFL36121673.13%6.8
62Norm Snead1963wasNFL24273635.58%6.8
63Joe Pisarcik1978nygNFL26233015.4%6.7
64Steve Grogan1981nweNFL28162164.29%6.7
65Kurt Warner2000ramNFL29183473.25%6.7
66Rex Grossman2011wasNFL31204582.91%6.7
67Bobby Layne1961pitNFL35161496.27%6.7
68Richard Todd1979nyjNFL26223344.6%6.6
69King Hill1963phiNFL27171865.58%6.6
70Troy Aikman1989dalNFL23182933.9%6.6
71Gus Frerotte2008minNFL37153012.81%6.5
72Dave M. Brown1996nygNFL26203983.39%6.5
73John Roach1960crdNFL27191886.66%6.5
74Carson Palmer2011raiNFL32163282.91%6.5
75Ryan Fitzpatrick2011bufNFL29235692.91%6.5
76Warren Moon1986otiNFL30264884.02%6.4
77Trent Green2001kanNFL31245233.37%6.4
78David Woodley1985pitNFL27141834.17%6.4
79Eddie LeBaron1953wasNFL23171497.17%6.3
80George Shaw1962denAFL29141107%6.3
81John Hadl1972sdgNFL32263705.33%6.3
82Richard Todd1984norNFL31193124.08%6.3
83Bert Jones1973cltNFL22121085.31%6.3
84Craig Morton1976nygNFL33202844.84%6.2
85Daunte Culpepper2002minNFL25235493.05%6.2
86George Blanda1966otiAFL39212715.45%6.2
87Alex Van Pelt1997bufNFL27101243.05%6.2
88Rudy Bukich1961pitNFL29161566.27%6.2
89Vinny Testaverde1994cleNFL31183763.15%6.2
90Tobin Rote1950gnbNFL22242247.96%6.2
91Jim Kelly1996bufNFL36193793.39%6.1
92Craig Erickson1993tamNFL24214573.25%6.1
93Jim Plunkett1972nweNFL25253555.33%6.1
94Mark Sanchez2012nyjNFL26184532.63%6.1
95Jeff Komlo1979detNFL23233684.6%6.1
96Don Horn1970gnbNFL2510765.21%6
97Caleb Hanie2011chiNFL2691022.91%6
98Chris Chandler2004ramNFL398623.2%6
99John Skelton2011crdNFL23142752.91%6
100Joe Geri1950pitNFL26151137.96%6

Manning currently ranks 4th, although it won’t take much for him to vault into second place.1 It’s been an ugly year for both New York teams, as Geno Smith ranks second in the league at 10.7 interceptions over average, and there is a huge gap between Manning and Smith and number three on the list, Terrelle Pryor, at 4.7. For Jets fans, this is particularly discomforting, coming off the heels of a 2012 season where Mark Sanchez led the league with 6.1 interceptions above average.

What about the best interception production since 1950? That title belongs to Atlanta’s Steve Bartkowski, who threw only five interceptions in 1983 on 432 pass attempts. No quarterback from 2013 makes the list, with Kansas City’s Alex Smith currently atop the league with 7.0 interceptions below average.

Rk
Quarterback
Year
Team
Lg
Age
INT
Att
INT RT
INTovAvg
1Steve Bartkowski1983atlNFL3154324.41%-14.1
2Sonny Jurgensen1967wasNFL33165085.67%-12.8
3Roman Gabriel1969ramNFL2973994.9%-12.6
4Roman Gabriel1973phiNFL33124605.31%-12.4
5Ken O'Brien1985nyjNFL2584884.17%-12.4
6Jim Hart1974crdNFL3083885.2%-12.2
7Fran Tarkenton1969nygNFL2984094.9%-12
8Fran Tarkenton1976minNFL3684124.84%-12
9Steve DeBerg1990kanNFL3644443.55%-11.8
10Roger Staubach1977dalNFL3593615.74%-11.7
11Milt Plum1960cleNFL2552506.66%-11.7
12Bert Jones1977cltNFL26113935.74%-11.6
13Y.A. Tittle1954sfoNFL2892956.95%-11.5
14Brian Sipe1980cleNFL31145544.57%-11.3
15Bernie Kosar1986cleNFL23105314.02%-11.3
16Johnny Unitas1963cltNFL30124105.58%-10.9
17Joe Montana1983sfoNFL27125154.41%-10.7
18Marc Bulger2006ramNFL2985883.17%-10.7
19Ken Anderson1981cinNFL32104794.29%-10.6
20Tom Brady2010nweNFL3344922.96%-10.6
21Chris Miller1989atlNFL24105263.9%-10.5
22Bert Jones1975cltNFL2483445.34%-10.4
23Roman Gabriel1971ramNFL31103525.78%-10.3
24Roger Staubach1979dalNFL37114614.6%-10.2
25Tom Brady2007nweNFL3085783.13%-10.1
26Bart Starr1966gnbNFL3232515.21%-10.1
27Bill Munson1968detNFL2783295.45%-9.9
28Babe Parilli1962nweAFL3282537%-9.7
29Fran Tarkenton1975minNFL35134255.34%-9.7
30John Brodie1970sfoNFL35103785.21%-9.7
31Aaron Rodgers2009gnbNFL2675413.08%-9.6
32Ken O'Brien1988nyjNFL2874243.91%-9.6
33Tony Eason1984nweNFL2584314.08%-9.6
34Otto Graham1953cleNFL3292587.17%-9.5
35Rich Gannon2001raiNFL3695493.37%-9.5
36Archie Manning1978norNFL29164715.4%-9.4
37Brett Favre2009minNFL4075313.08%-9.3
38Joe Theismann1983wasNFL34114594.41%-9.3
39Roman Gabriel1970ramNFL30124075.21%-9.2
40Johnny Unitas1958cltNFL2572636.15%-9.2
41Dan Fouts1981sdgNFL30176094.29%-9.2
42Ken Anderson1975cinNFL26113775.34%-9.1
43Bart Starr1964gnbNFL3042724.82%-9.1
44Ken Anderson1972cinNFL2373015.33%-9
45Joe Montana1981sfoNFL25124884.29%-9
46Milt Plum1961cleNFL26103026.27%-8.9
47Aaron Brooks2003norNFL2785183.26%-8.9
48Rich Gannon2002raiNFL37106183.05%-8.9
49Neil O'Donnell1993pitNFL2774863.25%-8.8
50Tom Brady2012nweNFL3586372.63%-8.8
51Bobby Layne1950detNFL24183367.96%-8.8
52Johnny Unitas1967cltNFL34164365.67%-8.7
53Johnny Unitas1964cltNFL3163054.82%-8.7
54Peyton Manning2006cltNFL3095573.17%-8.7
55Ron Jaworski1980phiNFL29124514.57%-8.6
56Bill Kenney1983kanNFL28186034.41%-8.6
57Aaron Rodgers2011gnbNFL2865022.91%-8.6
58Steve Young1992sfoNFL3174023.87%-8.6
59Tobin Rote1954gnbNFL26183826.95%-8.5
60Peyton Manning2003cltNFL27105663.26%-8.5
61Daryle Lamonica1968raiAFL27154165.62%-8.4
62Richard Todd1981nyjNFL28134974.29%-8.3
63Bart Starr1962gnbNFL2892856.07%-8.3
64Bernie Kosar1991cleNFL2894943.5%-8.3
65Fran Tarkenton1970nygNFL30123895.21%-8.3
66Jeff Garcia2000sfoNFL30105613.25%-8.3
67Jason Campbell2008wasNFL2765062.81%-8.2
68Butch Songin1960nweAFL36153925.92%-8.2
69Roger Staubach1971dalNFL2942115.78%-8.2
70Bill Munson1974detNFL3372925.2%-8.2
71Gary Danielson1980detNFL29114174.57%-8.1
72Jim Zorn1981seaNFL2893974.29%-8.1
73Roman Gabriel1967ramNFL27133715.67%-8
74Josh Freeman2010tamNFL2264742.96%-8
75Earl Morrall1957pitNFL23122896.92%-8
76Tony Eason1986nweNFL27104484.02%-8
77Alex Smith2011sfoNFL2754452.91%-7.9
78John Elway1993denNFL33105513.25%-7.9
79Tony Romo2009dalNFL2995503.08%-7.9
80Matt Ryan2010atlNFL2595712.96%-7.9
81Dan Marino1990miaNFL29115313.55%-7.9
82Billy Wade1963chiNFL33123565.58%-7.9
83Johnny Unitas1959cltNFL26143675.95%-7.8
84Doug Williams1980tamNFL25165214.57%-7.8
85Milt Plum1959cleNFL2482665.95%-7.8
86Brad Johnson2001tamNFL33115593.37%-7.8
87Donovan McNabb2007phiNFL3174733.13%-7.8
88Brad Johnson2002tamNFL3464513.05%-7.8
89Jim Hart1978crdNFL34184775.4%-7.8
90Phil Simms1988nygNFL34114793.91%-7.7
91Warren Moon1990otiNFL34135843.55%-7.7
92Ken O'Brien1987nyjNFL2783934%-7.7
93John Hadl1969sdgAFL29113245.78%-7.7
94Neil Lomax1985crdNFL26124714.17%-7.7
95Joe Montana1985sfoNFL29134944.17%-7.6
96Bert Jones1976cltNFL2593434.84%-7.6
97Joe Montana1984sfoNFL28104324.08%-7.6
98Fran Tarkenton1973minNFL3372745.31%-7.6
99Ken Anderson1977cinNFL28113235.74%-7.5
100Sonny Jurgensen1970wasNFL36103375.21%-7.5

We can also use this same process to create career lists. For Manning, 2013 is just the latest in a long line of bad interception seasons. His struggles this year, combined with his previous issues, have him in the top ten in career2 interceptions over average:

Rk
Quarterback
First Yr
Last Yr
Att
INT
INT RT
INTovAvg
1Steve Grogan1975199035932085.8%41.4
2Vinny Testaverde1987200767012674%39
3Lynn Dickey1971198531251795.7%35.9
4Ken Stabler1970198437932225.9%35.5
5Zeke Bratkowski1954197114841228.2%31.8
6Trent Dilfer1994200731721294.1%27.5
7Richard Todd1976198529671615.4%25.1
8Jon Kitna1997201144421653.7%23
9Eli Manning2004201349421693.4%23
10Eddie LeBaron1952196317961417.9%22.6
11King Hill19581969881718.1%21.8
12Mike Tomczak1985199923371064.5%21.7
13Jake Plummer1997200643501613.7%21.3
14Randy Johnson196619761286907%21
15Norm Snead1961197643532575.9%20.5
16Vince Ferragamo197719861615915.6%19.6
17George Blanda1950197539862726.8%19.4
18Ryan Fitzpatrick200520132549913.6%18.4
19Dennis Shaw19701975924687.4%17.9
20Marc Wilson1980199020811024.9%17.6
21Jim Plunkett1971198637011985.3%17.2
22Vince Evans197819951390745.3%17
23Ed Brown1954196519871386.9%16.9
24Mike Phipps1970198117991086%15.4
25Joe Kapp19671970918647%15.3
26Jay Cutler2006201332511103.4%15.3
27Al Dorow195419621207937.7%15.2
28Kim McQuilken197419792722910.7%15.2
29Tommy Maddox199220051200544.5%15.1
30Mark Sanchez200920121867693.7%15.1
31Heath Shuler19941997593335.6%14.6
32Ryan Leaf19982001655365.5%14.5
33George Izo196019663173210.1%14.3
34Mark Malone198119891648814.9%14.3
35Joe Namath1965197737622205.8%13.9
36Babe Parilli1952196933302206.6%13.8
37Cliff Stoudt19801988684436.3%13.7
38Lamar McHan1954196314421087.5%13.6
39Rodney Peete198920042346923.9%13.3
40Terry Bradshaw1970198339012105.4%13
41Mark Herrmann19821992561366.4%12.9
42Kent Nix19671972652497.5%12.8
43Terry Hanratty19691976431358.1%12.8
44Rex Grossman200320111562603.8%12.2
45Randy Wright198419881119575.1%12.2
46Ralph Guglielmi19551963626528.3%12.2
47John Roach19591964413379%12.1
48Sage Rosenfels20022008562295.2%11.9
49Dave Wilson198119881039555.3%11.9
50Derek Anderson200620121440553.8%11.4
51Adrian Burk195019561079898.2%11.3
52Bob Avellini197519841110696.2%11.3
53Craig Whelihan19971998557295.2%11.3
54Matt Robinson19771982523387.3%11.3
55Tim Couch199920031714673.9%11.2
56Wade Wilson1981199824281024.2%11.2
57Don Horn19671973465367.7%11.2
58Pete Beathard196419731282846.6%11.1
59Chris Chandler1988200440051463.6%11.1
60Danny Wuerffel19972002350226.3%10.9
61Vince Young200620111304513.9%10.8
62Geno Smith20132013380215.5%10.7
63Brett Favre19912010101693363.3%10.7
64Rick Mirer199320032043763.7%10.3
65Jay Fiedler199820051717663.8%10.2
66Jack Scarbath195319562793010.8%10.2
67Jake Delhomme1999201129321013.4%9.9
68Carson Palmer2004201346081473.2%9.8
69Kelly Holcomb19972007893384.3%9.8
70Brian Griese199820082796993.5%9.6
71George Shaw19551962802637.9%9.5
72Steve Ramsey19701976921586.3%9.5
73Tommy Wade19641965691318.8%9.5
74Josh Freeman200920121873633.4%9.4
75Bobby Hebert1985199631211244%8.8
76Bob Gagliano19821992486275.6%8.7
77Chad Henne200820131791603.4%8.6
78Mike Taliaferro19641972966636.5%8.5
79Bill Troup19761980328267.9%8.5
80Alex Van Pelt19952003477245%8.4
81Peter Tom Willis19901993183158.2%8.4
82Tom Owen19741981349267.4%8.3
83Rudy Bukich195319681190746.2%8.3
84Pat Ryan19781991657355.3%8.2
85Donald Hollas19911998375215.6%8.2
86George Herring19601961233239.9%8.2
87Gus Frerotte1994200831061063.4%8.2
88Rick Norton19661970382307.9%8.1
89Jeff Komlo19791983437286.4%8.1
90Scott Brunner198019851046545.2%8.1
91Billy Joe Hobert19951999527254.7%8
92John Skelton20102012602254.2%8
93Charlie Frye20052009676294.3%7.9
94Gary Huff19731978788506.3%7.8
95Wayne Clark197019741201411.7%7.6
96Kordell Stewart199520032358843.6%7.5
97Stan Gelbaugh19911996391225.6%7.4
98Jack Thompson19791984845455.3%7.4
99Jeff Rutledge19791991526295.5%7.3
100Bruce Mathison19831987309206.5%7.2

What about the best 100 passers at avoiding interceptions, after adjusting for era? The leader is Roman Gabriel, who also ranked 2nd on the list of avoiding interceptions on incomplete passes.

Rk
Quarterback
First Yr
Last Yr
Att
INT
INT Rt
INTovAvg
1Roman Gabriel1962197744981493.3%-90.8
2Fran Tarkenton1961197864672664.1%-82.1
3Joe Montana1979199453911392.6%-75
4Tom Brady2000201365361332%-64.9
5Ken Anderson1971198644751603.6%-59.4
6Dan Marino1983199983582523%-53.6
7Donovan McNabb1999201153741172.2%-51
8Johnny Unitas1956197351862534.9%-47.4
9Roger Staubach1969197929581093.7%-45.5
10Sonny Jurgensen1957197442621894.4%-43.6
11Bart Starr1956197131491384.4%-42
12Mark Brunell1994201146401082.3%-41.2
13Ken O'Brien198419933602982.7%-40.9
14Bernie Kosar198519963365872.6%-40
15Neil Lomax198119883153902.9%-40
16Peyton Manning1998201383732192.6%-39.2
17Neil O'Donnell199120033229682.1%-38.2
18John Elway1983199872502263.1%-37.2
19Rich Gannon1987200442061042.5%-36.4
20Steve Young1985199941491072.6%-35.8
21Jeff Garcia199920083676832.3%-33.9
22Aaron Rodgers200520132916501.7%-33.5
23Len Dawson1957197537411834.9%-33.2
24Y.A. Tittle1950196438172215.8%-29.3
25Phil Simms1979199346471573.4%-29
26Joe Theismann1974198536021383.8%-26.8
27Steve McNair1995200745441192.6%-26.5
28Bert Jones1973198225511014%-25.4
29Drew Brees2001201367241752.6%-25.2
30Ron Jaworski1974198941171644%-24
31John Brodie1957197344912245%-23.4
32Bill Munson196419791982804%-23.1
33Randall Cunningham1985200142891343.1%-21.3
34Otto Graham195019551565946%-20.3
35Charlie Conerly1950196122291346%-20.2
36Norm Van Brocklin1950196028371766.2%-18.6
37Troy Aikman1989200047151413%-18.2
38Jeff George1990200139671132.8%-18
39Billy Wade1954196625231345.3%-17.7
40Doug Williams197819892507933.7%-17.6
41Brad Johnson1994200843261222.8%-17.2
42Matt Ryan200820133200742.3%-16.8
43Jim Harbaugh1987200039181173%-16.3
44Bill Kenney198019882430863.5%-16.3
45Philip Rivers2004201340461022.5%-16.2
46Steve Bartkowski1975198634561444.2%-16
47Don Meredith1960196823081114.8%-15.5
48Greg Landry1968198423001034.5%-15.2
49David Garrard200220102281542.4%-14.9
50Jim Hart1966198450762474.9%-14.9
51Jason Campbell200620132418572.4%-14.7
52Steve Bono198519991701422.5%-14.7
53Edd Hargett19691971437102.3%-13.8
54Billy Kilmer1961197829841464.9%-13.6
55Brian Sipe1974198334391494.3%-13.5
56Milt Plum1957196924191275.3%-13.4
57Dan Fouts1973198756042424.3%-12.8
58Joe Flacco200820133015732.4%-12.8
59Jim Finks195019551311806.1%-12.7
60Tony Eason198319901564513.3%-12.6
61Chad Pennington200020102471642.6%-12.4
62Bob Griese1967198034291725%-12.3
63Butch Songin19601962694314.5%-12.1
64Sam Bradford201020131760382.2%-11.4
65Virgil Carter19681976785313.9%-11.3
66Kent Graham199220011339332.5%-11.3
67Warren Moon1984200068232333.4%-10.6
68Jim McMahon198219962573903.5%-10.6
69Gary Danielson197719881932784%-10.4
70Matt Schaub200420133110802.6%-10.3
71Archie Manning1971198436421734.8%-10.2
72Mike Livingston196919791751834.7%-10
73Tom Flores196019691715925.4%-9.9
74Steve Dils19801988972323.3%-9.4
75Alex Smith200520132657692.6%-9.3
76Kyle Orton200520122214572.6%-8.9
77Tony Romo2006201337481002.7%-8.8
78Daryle Lamonica1963197426011385.3%-8.7
79Drew Bledsoe1993200667172063.1%-8.7
80Byron Leftwich200320121605422.6%-8.6
81Tobin Rote1950196629071916.6%-8.6
82Gary Cuozzo196319721182554.7%-8.5
83Don Trull19641969637284.4%-8.4
84Jim Zorn1976198731491414.5%-8.3
85Pat Haden197619811363604.4%-8.2
86Bobby Layne1950196233492236.7%-7.9
87Matt Hasselbeck1999201250181472.9%-7.6
88Ben Roethlisberger2004201342871192.8%-7.4
89Nick Foles2012201353171.3%-7.2
90Jeff Hostetler198819972338713%-6.9
91Frank Ryan1958197021331115.2%-6.8
92Bobby Thomason195119571334896.7%-6.6
93John Stofa19661970312113.5%-6.3
94Steve Fuller197919861066413.8%-6.1
95Johnny Green19601963618345.5%-6
96Mark Rypien198820012613883.4%-5.8
97Robert Griffin III20122013849172%-5.7
98Trent Green1997200837401143%-5.7
99Marc Bulger200220093171932.9%-5.7
100Earl Morrall1956197626891485.5%-5.5

Fran Tarkenton is fifth on the career list of interceptions, but that’s extremely misleading. He had an above-average interception rate most of his career, and twice led the league in interception rate. He happened to throw a lot of passes — he retired as the career leader in pass attempts, and currently ranks 10th — and played in an environment where interceptions were much more common. He had five top-100 seasons in interceptions below average, including two top ten years. While he may be fifth on the career interceptions list, his second-place ranking in interceptions below average is a much better representation of Tarkenton the passer.

  1. Note that for the 1960s, I calculated the AFL and NFL as two separate leagues with two separate interception rates. I did not remove each quarterback when calculating the league average, which would arguably be more appropriate but would also take more work! []
  2. Only quarterback seasons beginning in 1950 were included. []

{ 10 comments… add one }

  • James December 20, 2013, 8:24 am

    Good work, Chase!

    Jeff Garcia is #21 on fewest interceptions, always underrated. The last Pro Bowl QB for the Bucs AND the 49ers!

    • Chase Stuart December 20, 2013, 12:07 pm

      Thanks, James. Glad you enjoyed.

      Yes, Garcia had a very interesting career.

  • Kibbles December 20, 2013, 10:30 am

    Wait, Terry Bradshaw once had 24 INTs on 218 attempts? Holy hell.

    • Chase Stuart December 20, 2013, 12:07 pm

      Is that not good?

      At least Bradshaw had the excuse of being a 22-year-old rookie.

  • Will December 20, 2013, 10:38 am

    How would things look if you looked at the ratio of interceptions to average picks versus the difference? For QBs in today’s low pick environment, it may be difficult to build up a large difference (see Aaron Rodgers who rarely throws a pick, but is only 22nd in being better than average).

    • Chase Stuart December 20, 2013, 12:06 pm

      I think you’d see the same “issue” that you see.

      Probably the best way to do this would be to measure the standard deviation of all qualifying passers, and count how many standard deviations below average a quarterback was. That might help someone like Rodgers.

  • Tim Truemper December 20, 2013, 1:36 pm

    In 1954, Y.A Tittle only throws 9 int.’s on 295 attempts to rank 13th on the “good” interception list. Then makes the “bad” interception list in 1955 with 28 on 287 attempts (#23). Quite a turnaround in performance.

    • Nate December 21, 2013, 9:39 pm

      I think there might be some signal in your noise there.

      These are low confidence numbers. Let’s -for a moment- consider Brett Favre who has 10,169 passing attempts 336 intercepted passes, so his interception rate is 3.3%. But that’s the result of experimental observation. In a political poll, that rate would be given a “margin of error” of +/- 1% or +/- 100 interceptions. That interval almost covers the entire listed range of career interceptions over or under par (Roman Gabriel manages to be 0.3 interceptions below it.)

  • Shattenjager December 20, 2013, 2:22 pm

    I was hoping for a fun post about Manning and Smith’s interceptions at some point, and you did not disappoint.

    Joe Kapp made the top 25 in most INTs above average while playing only four years. And Dennis Shaw made it even higher and only played a significant amount in three seasons (though he did manage to throw five picks in 54 attempts after those three years). And King Hill nearly made the top ten in 881 pass attempts. Those are impressive.

  • Richie December 20, 2013, 3:59 pm

    Marino and McNabb are the only guys in the top-10 who never led the league in INT%.

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