Analyzing Philip Rivers' Interceptions

Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

Using the Playbook Confidential log to look for common threads in 2012 interceptions.

A lot of experts have been attempting to diagnose Philip Rivers' recent batch of interceptions. The general consensus seems to be centered on bad line play (leading to pressure), bad mechanics, and bad footwork leading to premature chucking and a lot of underthrows. I wanted to take a look at the data we've gathered for playbook confidential to see if we could find some common threads for those picks between the situation, and pre-snap look. Rivers has thrown nine picks this year, below is a list of every single one. The cumulative 2012 Chargers play calling log can be found here.

Week Lead Quarter Possession Down Distance Ball On RunningBack Personnel Backfield Formation Receiver Formation Receiver Hvy TE Hvy
2 L 2 5 3 10 31 Brown 11 Shotgun Spread L R
3 B 2 4 2 5 25 Mathews 11 Shotgun Trips L R
3 B 3 7 2 6 64 Brinkley 12 Shotgun Spread L R
4 L 2 6 3 5 76 Brown 11 Shotgun Trips R B
5 B 4 10 3 18 45 Brown 11 Shotgun Spread R L
6 L 2 6 1 10 44 Mathews 12 Ace Double R B
6 L 4 10 3 8 31 Brown 11 Shotgun Base B B
6 B 4 11 3 7 59 Brown 11 Shotgun 2x2 B B
6 B 4 12 2 6 45 Brown 11 Shotgun Spread L R

Things You Would Expect

- Rivers throws very few picks from under center (1/9). At the first look, this doesn't seem very revealing because he's thrown 164 passes from shotgun to only 64 passes from under center. However. the math on that shows an interception on 4.9% of shotgun passes versus only 1.6% of passes from under center.

- Seven of the nine picks are from 11 personnel. You might expect most passes to come from 11 personnel, but it's not the case. There have been 107 passes with 11 personnel (3WR), and 121 using other personnel (2 or less WR). The interception rate for 11 personnel is much higher than other groups.

- Not one single interception came with a play fake. I wish that this meant something, but play fakes have disappeared almost completely this season, and been really lame the 2-3 times a game they show up.

Not-so-Obvious Stuff

- Three in the 1st half, six in the 2nd half; with none in the first quarter and four in the 4th. It seems that Rivers opens games up disciplined, and degrades as the game goes on, or the situation becomes more dire.

- Five of nine picks came on third down, which also shows desperation/pressing.

- No picks w/ less than 5 yards to go. Rivers has been safe in hitting the slot, TEs, and backs.

- All but 2 were (snapped) between the 30 yard lines. It seems Rivers is capable of being careful with the ball when backed up against his own goal and in the opposing red zone. This might be one you could more clearly hang on Norv Turner's play calling. Immediately after the Denver game he revealed he was going to take the offense in a more conservative direction. Maybe between the 30's is where he likes to send Meachem on those VJ routes.

- I could not find anything to trend on between receiver formations, receiver heavy side, or tight end power side. I was really hoping I would find a smoking gun there.

Conclusion

All of this seems fixable, between the play calling and Rivers' yips. The problem is that we've been saying that after since the special teams were fixed following the 2010 season. My prescription would be less 11, less shotgun, a dash of martyball (more 2nd down running), and relying on the improved defense.

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