Interceptions are a funny thing. Two quarterbacks tied for the league lead in interceptions thrown last year with 17 – Matthew Stafford and Trevor Lawrence. One of them won the Super Bowl; the other finished dead last in the NFL with three wins.
While it’s unlikely that we’ll see another Super Bowl winner lead the league in picks this year, there’s a strong possibility that the dubious honor will go to a young quarterback still trying to refine his game. In the past seven years, four of the league’s interceptions leaders have been 25 years old or younger, including Lawrence last year (21).
Many Chicago Bears faithful are predicting quarterback Justin Fields to make a huge leap this year after struggling with turnovers last season. However, Illinois online sportsbooks disagree and list Fields as one of the top candidates to throw the ball to the other team more than any other QB in the league.
Will Fields tone down the turnovers this year, or will he help pad some defensive backs’ stats? Let’s take a look.
Justin Fields Interceptions Odds
|Zach Wilson, NYJ||+800||+800||+800|
|Justin Fields, CHI||+800||+1000||+900|
|Davis Mills, HOU||+800||+1000||+800|
|Baker Mayfield, CAR||+1000||+1600||+1100|
|Trevor Lawrence, JAX||+1000||+1000||+1000|
Justin Fields Last Season
After two successful seasons with the Ohio State Buckeyes, including a trip to the 2021 National Championship Game, Fields was selected by the Chicago Bears with the 11th overall pick.
Fields entered the season as Andy Dalton’s backup but was thrust into action ahead of schedule after Dalton suffered a knee injury in Week 2. His first start came in Week 3 against the Cleveland Browns, and it wasn’t pretty. Fields was sacked nine times in the game while completing six of 20 throws for 68 yards.
While he rebounded with a win the following week against the Detroit Lions, it was a bumpy ride for the rookie QB last year. The Georgia native started 10 games and completed 58.9% of his passes while throwing for seven TDs and 10 interceptions. He also fumbled the ball 12 times and lost five of them.
While Fields’ numbers were subpar last season, he can’t take all the blame. Head coach Matt Nagy’s offense wasn’t built for a mobile quarterback, and the team didn’t make any adjustments tailored towards Fields’ style of play. With Nagy out, and new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy installing a new system suited for Fields, things could be a lot brighter for the Bears this year.
Interesting to note is that Fields led the league in passer rating (138.5) on designed rollouts last season, with a completion percentage of 73.7. Unfortunately, the Bears called just 19 of them. You can expect a lot more of that this year as the Bears will look to utilize Fields’ strengths and playmaking ability.
Other QBs in the running for most interceptions
Zach Wilson and Davis Mills round out the top three candidates for interceptions thrown this season. With both QBs in unenviable situations in New York and Houston, you could make a strong case for either one.
Zach Wilson, New York Jets
The second overall pick in last year’s draft had a rough rookie campaign, to say the least. The man they call the Mormon Mahomes started 13 games for the Jets, going 3-10 and finishing near the bottom of the league in yards, touchdowns, and QB rating.
Wilson threw nine TDs and 11 interceptions last season and generally looked like a young quarterback trying to do too much. He could be poised for a leap this season, as the Jets have invested heavily in their offensive line and drafted some elite talent in Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall to help him out.
Unfortunately, Wilson will miss the remaining of the preseason at minimum after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his knee following a non-contact injury against the Philadelphia Eagles in the first exhibition game.
Davis Mills, Houston Texans
While Davis Mills didn’t have the same hype around him as Fields or Wilson last year, the third-round draft pick out of Stanford had the best quarterback numbers among rookies outside of Mac Jones. And the more experience he gained, the better he got.
In Mills’ last nine games as a starter, he threw for 2,307 yards with 14 TDs and five interceptions. One of the biggest problems for Mills this year will be that he’ll continue to lack the supporting talent. The Texans are coming off of back-to-back four-win seasons and ranked dead last in the running game last season.
The running game doesn’t look much better this year, with a committee of Marlon Mack, Rex Burkhead, and rookie Dameon Pierce. They drafted wide receiver John Metchie lll in the second round to help WR Brandin Cooks on the outside, but Metchie has since been diagnosed with a form of leukemia and will likely miss the season.
The Texans won’t be making any big waves this year, but based on Mills’ last nine games, it’s hard to see him leading the league in interceptions.
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh