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Yes, Andy Reid helps his QBs throw fewer interceptions

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The numbers show that Reid’s influence should help Patrick Mahomes in his first year as Chiefs starter

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs-Minicamp Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

I was listening to the radio or a podcast the other day (or maybe I dreamt it, who knows), and a little nugget of information was implanted in my brain:

“Andy Reid’s offense protects his quarterbacks from throwing too many interceptions” — unknown radio/podcast/dream guy

This information festered in my brain for a few days, so I had to do some quick research.

Overall interception totals

We all know Reid has been coaching in the NFL for a long time (19 seasons to be exact). Here is how Reid has stacked up in 19 seasons regarding total interceptions:

Andy Reid Career INT totals and Ranks

Year Primary QB INTs Rank
Year Primary QB INTs Rank
1999 Doug Pederson 18 16
2000 Donovan McNabb 15 9
2001 Donovan McNabb 14 7
2002 Donovan McNabb 11 6
2003 Donovan McNabb 11 4
2004 Donovan McNabb 11 3
2005 Donovan McNabb 20 26
2006 Donovan McNabb 9 2
2007 Donovan McNabb 15 11
2008 Donovan McNabb 16 21
2009 Donovan McNabb 13 7
2010 Michael Vick 13 9
2011 Michael Vick 25 31
2012 Michael Vick 15 15
2013 Alex Smith 8 1
2014 Alex Smith 6 1
2015 Alex Smith 7 1
2016 Alex Smith 8 7
2017 Alex Smith 8 3

Over 19 seasons, the average NFL rank for an Andy Reid offense throwing interceptions is 9.5. Consistently, Reid is in the top 10 in terms of not throwing picks.

Of course, total interceptions are fun to look at, but interception percentage is an even more telling stat:

Andy Reid Career QB INT% and Rank

Year Primary QB INT% Rank
Year Primary QB INT% Rank
1999 Doug Pederson 3.8 25
2000 Donovan McNabb 2.6 7
2001 Donovan McNabb 2.7 7
2002 Donovan McNabb 2.0 5
2003 Donovan McNabb 2.3 5
2004 Donovan McNabb 2.0 3
2005 Donovan McNabb 3.2 19
2006 Donovan McNabb 1.7 3
2007 Donovan McNabb 2.6 8
2008 Donovan McNabb 2.6 13
2009 Donovan McNabb 2.4 9
2010 Michael Vick 2.3 9
2011 Michael Vick 4.5 32
2012 Michael Vick 2.4 10
2013 Alex Smith 1.5 1
2014 Alex Smith 1.2 2
2015 Alex Smith 1.5 3
2016 Alex Smith 1.5 8
2017 Alex Smith 1.5 3

On average, Reid offenses finish ranked ninth in the NFL in interception percentage.

Conclusion: In 19 seasons, Andy Reid has had a top-10 interception total 13 times and a top-10 interception percentage 14 times.

Whats with the bad years?

Being curious, as I often am, I wanted to look at some information regarding the “bad years” for Reid’s interception totals.

Just looking through the tables, I’m going to say the following years were bad: 1999, 2005, 2011.

This was Reid’s first season as a head coach. Doug Pederson, who up to the start of 1999 had thrown a total of 32 passes in the NFL, was the starter at the beginning of the year.

The plan was to essentially use Pederson as a sacrificial lamb until Donovan McNabb was ready. Obviously, the year didn’t go well with the Eagles finishing at 5-11.

Donovan McNabb had solidified himself as Reid’s starting quarterback over the past five seasons. However, in 2005, McNabb was injured, which led to Mike McMahon becoming the regular starter from Week 9 onward.

McMahon had a very poor 4.2 interception percentage in his career up to that point and he continued on that trajectory when he replaced McNabb. The Eagles finished the season 6-10.

At this time, Michael Vick was the starting quarterback for the Eagles and was playing in his second season. Unfortunately, Vick suffered an injury and was replaced by Vince Young for three games toward the end of the season.

Vick was already posting his worst interception percentage during his stint in Philadelphia, but to make matters worse, Vick’s replacement in Young was giving the ball away like Halloween candy. Young threw a ridiculous eight interceptions in three games started.

Overall, Reid’s bad years are understandable, and as a whole, Reid’s offenses have been great at taking care of the ball. This makes me worry a bit less when I think about Patrick Mahomes’ first season as a starting quarterback.

QBs with and without Andy Reid

I took things one step further and tracked how quarterbacks fared in regards to interceptions with and without Reid as their head coach. Here are all of Reid’s quarterbacks that have thrown passes for more than one team.

(Note: I didn’t include Chase Daniel, who has thrown a total of 10 passes for non-Reid teams—ain’t nobody got time for that!)

Andy Reid QB INT% - With and Without Reid as a Head Coach

QB With Reid Without Reid
QB With Reid Without Reid
Doug Pederson 3.96 3.39
Donovan McNabb 2.11 2.71
Koy Detmer 2.89 2.76
AJ Feeley 4.53 3.75
Jeff Blake 2.70 3.06
Mike McMahon 3.86 4.22
Jeff Garcia 1.06 2.32
Kevin Kolb 4.39 2.52
Michael Vick 2.59 2.82
Vince Young 7.89 3.53
Nick Foles 1.56 2.25
Alex Smith 1.35 2.89

Just looking at this list, seven of the 12 quarterbacks threw for a better interception percentage with Reid as their head coach.

However, a lot of these quarterbacks did not throw for a large number of passes with both teams. There are three quarterbacks who attempted more than 500 passes with and without Reid as their head coach: Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick and Alex Smith.

Donovan McNabb
McNabb threw 4,746 passes as the Eagles’ starter for Reid; McNabb also threw 628 passes for the Redskins and Vikings.

McNabb saw a 28 percent increase in his interception rate when he left Philadelphia. Of course, McNabb’s age played a factor, but the difference is stark.

Michael Vick
Vick threw 2,058 passes without Reid as his head coach, and 1,159 with Reid’s Eagles. Vick saw a 9 percent decrease in his interception percentage while playing for Reid.

Alex Smith
Alex Smith threw 2,177 passes with the 49ers and 2,436 passes with the Chiefs. Alex Smith improved his interception percentage by a ridiculous 114 percentage with Reid as his head coach.

So, to summarize the big three Reid quarterbacks:

Final Thoughts

So if someone asked me, “Does Andy Reid’s style of coaching and offense lead to fewer interceptions?” — my answer would be YES.

This bodes well for Mahomes, who many analysts believe may have issues with interceptions in his first year as a full time starter.

Overall, these findings mostly look good on Reid. There are a number of reasons he is known as a quarterback guru, and his ability to guide his quarterbacks to take care of the ball is just one of them.