by Jason Pauley
Recently while passing the time by enjoying some mindless NFL research using Stathead.com queries, I was looking at current quarterbacks and pick-6’s; a couple of guys stood out to me, Mitch Trubisky and Matthew Stafford. So I took a deeper dive into the data to see what else I could find. I was curious about what players throw the highest and lowest frequency of pick-6’s when they throw an interception. For this exercise, I didn’t care how often they throw picks, or how often they throw pick-6’s relative to pass attempts. I only wanted to explore what percentage of their interceptions ended in a pick-6.
Mitch Trubisky has never thrown a pick-6. There are 29 quarterbacks on a roster in 2021 who have 1,500+ career attempts, and the only QB with a 0.0% pick-6 rate is Trubisky. The average quarterback in 2021 will see 9.5% of their interceptions go the other way for a touchdown, but not Mitch…it never happens. Do you want some historical perspective? Since 1950, when pick-6 data begins there are 198 quarterbacks with 1,500+ career passing attempts, 197 of them have thrown a pick-6. Mitch Trubisky is the only QB in NFL history with a qualifying number of attempts to not throw a pick 6. There are only three players in history with a pick-6 rate below 2%: Mike Phipps, Doug Flutie, and Daryle Lamonica.
On the flip side, we have Matthew Stafford. In November of this year, the Rams played three games; they lost all of them. In each of those three games, Stafford threw a pick-6, giving him 26 for his career. His 26 is only 6th all-time (B.Favre is 1st with 32), but as a % of his total interceptions, his 17.0% is the worst career rate for active QBs. One out of every 5.9 interceptions Matthew Stafford throws ends in a touchdown by the defense. When expanding the data set to all QBs in history, Stafford is still really bad, with the 2nd worst rate out of 198 QB.s. The only one worse is Blake Bortles with a 17.3% rate.
I think this data is mostly noise and no signal, although I do wonder if a certain style of play or a QB that likes to throw to a certain type of route might lean towards a more pick-6 friendly interception, but pick-6’s are rare enough that knowing this information wouldn’t be worth any attempts to change strategy…but like I said, this is probably more noise than anything else, just interesting to look at. The one thing that does seem to have some possible game-style consequences on this stat is era. A quick look at QBs who started their career in the 50’-70’s shows an avg pick-6 rate of 6.0%; in the 1980’s it was 7.1% and since the 1990’s it’s 9.7%.
So, in this post of meaningless but fun data here are the players on a roster in 2021 with over 1,500 career attempts and their rate of interceptions leading to a pick-6.