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Unlucky interceptions: Joe Burrow, Dak Prescott among the league's unluckiest passers since 2016

2MA298F Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) looks to throw a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland, Monday, Oct. 31, 2022. (AP Photo/David Richard)

• Joe Burrow stands as NFL's unluckiest QB: Only 12 of his 35 career interceptions have been deemed solely his fault, per PFF charting.

• Justin Herbert, Mac Jones round out the top three: Both have sub-40% quarterback-fault interception rates in their careers.

• Dak and drops: Nine of Dak Prescott's interceptions since 2016 have stemmed from drops — tied for the most in the NFL.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Not all interceptions are created equal.

There are the unlucky ones, the perfectly thrown passes that clang off a receiver's hands and fall right to a very grateful cornerback. There are the deserved ones, the undisciplined heaves into triple coverage that look little more than punt-return practice for an unphased safety. There are the ones that could go either way, the contested plays that come down to the receiver-cornerback battle and are just one incredible play away from being either a touchdown or a turnover. And there is everything in between.

PFF charted every single NFL throw over the past 17 years, grading the quarterback for what he did — rather than the result — and categorizing hundreds of details from dropback depth to dropback type to time to throw to incompletion type, among many others.

We can separate the 28 different incompletion types into four generalized buckets: quarterback fault (overthrow, underthrow, etc.), non-quarterback fault (dropped pass, receiver slipped, etc.), defense forced (pass deflections, QB hit as thrown, etc.) and miscellaneous (ball hit the official, etc.).

Today, we’re digging into the data vault to identify the quarterbacks who have most often fallen victim to the dreaded “unlucky interception.” These quarterbacks have had the lowest percentage of their total interceptions charted as quarterback fault, meaning the bulk of their picks have come down to factors outside their immediate control.

Here are the NFL's unluckiest quarterbacks over the past seven seasons, postseason included.

1. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

Percentage of QB-fault interceptions: 34.3%

According to PFF grading and charting, just 12 of Burrow’s 35 interceptions have been deemed his fault. Seven have come from a combination of miscommunication, receivers stopping their routes and dropped passes, while 16 have been forced by the defense, either by coverage players breaking up a pass or pass-rushers hitting the Bengals signal-caller as he threw.

2. Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers

Percentage of QB-fault interceptions: 37.1%

While the attention is often focused on Herbert’s big arm, he has also been really smart with the football through his first three seasons in the league. Like Burrow, he has thrown 35 interceptions in the regular season and playoffs over the past three seasons, with just 13 of those deemed his fault. Three of his interceptions have been a result of dropped passes by receivers.

3. Mac Jones, New England Patriots

Percentage of QB-fault interceptions: 38.5%

Jones is locked in a battle to keep hold of his starting job with the New England Patriots after a poor second season in the league. He has tied for the 13th-lowest turnover-worthy play rate on pass attempts, with 2.5% of his pass attempts being turnover worthy, while less than 40% of his interceptions have been his fault.

4. Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys


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