Eagles quarterback Nick Foles attempted nine passes in the team’s preseason opener Friday against the Bears. Two were intercepted by Chicago defenders.
This comes following a 2013 season in which Foles tossed just two interceptions on 317 attempts to go along with 27 touchdowns. But before Eagles fans start to panic, statistics show that Foles earned his low interception rate by being far better than any other quarterback in keeping opponents’ hands off the football.
Foles, 2013’s leading passer with a 119.2 rating, also led the league in having just 5.4% of his passes defensed (touched) by defenders. Trailing Foles in the top four is some elite company: Aaron Rodgers (7.6%), Tom Brady (8.1%) and Peyton Manning (9%). The average was 12.9%, according to Stats.
All interceptions count as passes defensed. But, leaguewide, about one in five passes defensed become interceptions. Applying that average rate to Foles would result in 1.5 more interceptions. Measured this way, the luckiest passer last year actually was San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick, who had just eight interceptions on his 75 passes defensed instead of the 15.4 he would have thrown if defenders were average at catching them. Note that Kaepernick’s rate of allowing defenders to get a hand or two on the ball (18% of attempts) was second -worst among all qualifying passers last season—and over three times the rate posted by Foles.