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
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
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.
In 19 seasons, only 4 of Reid's teams have been outside the top 10 in INT%. In 2 of those 4 years the starting QB was injured, and another was 1999 with Pederson/rookie McNabb.— Gary McKenzie (@Super_G_Chiefs) June 22, 2018
If you think Mahomes will throw tons of INTs, you haven't been paying attention to Reid's history.
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|
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.
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.
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 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:
Andy Reid is good at helping his QBs take care of the ball:— Gary McKenzie (@Super_G_Chiefs) June 22, 2018
- McNabb's INT% went up 28% without Reid
- Michael Vick's INT% is 9% higher without Reid
- Alex Smith's INT% dropped by 114% with Reid
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.