New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is often lauded for how well he protects the football. He's annually ranked towards the bottom of the league with regards to interceptions, and his interception rate is the 2nd best all time.
That said, Brady has a penchant for throwing some extremely costly turnovers.
On the season, five of Brady's six interceptions have been caught inside the ten yard line, including four on or inside the goal line. The sixth interception bounced off Julian Edelman's hands and was returned for a touchdown against the Colts.
While some of these passes were deep heaves, Brady needs to take better care of the football in these scoring situations. Using the same model as our Best/Worst plays of the week, Brady's interceptions cost the Patriots an average of 5.6 expected points, which is the 4th worst mark in the league.
Only Philip Rivers (five of nine interceptions returned for touchdowns), Jay Cutler (three pick-sixes and an additional three red zone interception), and Derek Carr (two pick-sixes, two returns of 50+ yards, and two goal line interceptions) have a worse average than Brady.
When looking across the total damage, as opposed to the average, Brady ranks 19th (Sir Peyton Manning is dead last), but the Patriots quarterback has a tendency to throw this costly interceptions when he feels like he has to put the offense on his back.
In 2013, three of the Patriots four regular season losses featured an interception at the goal line with seconds left on the clock (although one was an awful missed defensive pass interference call against the Panthers), while he had another end zone interception and a pick six on the register.
In 2014, Brady threw a pick six against the Chiefs, as well as two deep in the Patriots own territory, and four interceptions on the opposing goal line (including the infamous interception that kicked off Deflarthyism).
When looking over the past three seasons of data, we can find that Rivers, Cutler, and Carr rank in the bottom four of the league (alongside Matt Schaub, who doesn't qualify this season). There is a year-over-year relationship that links quarterbacks to costly interceptions, which means these costly interceptions are rooted in more than just dumb luck.
Brady will soon have his receivers back, but he needs to understand that the offense needs him to protect the ball more than he needs to make a play happen down the field, and especially while in the red zone.