Drew Brees’ 17 Interceptions in 2014

Drew Brees almost eclipsed the 5,000 yard marker this past season in Pete Carmichael’s 6th season as the offensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints. In my previous article, we took a look at Drew Brees’ 34 touchdowns and were impressed by his excellent deep ball placement and usage of a variety of weapons behind an uncertain offensive line. In this breakdown we will take a look at the opposite side of the spectrum as we dive into Brees’ 17 interceptions.

Drew Brees – 456/659 (69.2%), 4,952 yards, 7.5 ypa, 33 TDs, 17 INTs, 27 rushes for 68 yards, 1 rushing TD

First let’s take a look at the intended targets of Brees’ 17 interceptions during the 2014 season:

Receiver Breakdown

Marques Colston 4
Jimmy Graham 3
Kenny Stills 3
Robert Meachem 2
Brandin Cooks 1
Joseph Morgan 1
Travaris Cadet 1
Nick Toon 1
Ben Watson 1


Here is a quarter and down breakdown of the touchdowns:

Quarter Breakdown

1st Quarter 4
2nd Quarter 5
3rd Quarter 5
4th Quarter 3


Down Breakdown

1st Down 3
2nd Down 3
3rd Down 10
4th Down 1


While here is a breakdown of Brees’ passes by distance and location. Reminder: Distance is broken down by how long the touchdown score actually was, while location is the position on the field where Brees placed the ball.

Distance Breakdown

Fewer than 6 Yards 5
Between 6 and 15 yards 4
More than 15 yards 8


Location Breakdown

Deep Left Deep Middle Deep Right
1 4 3
Intermediate Left Intermediate Middle Intermediate Right
0 1 3
Short Left Short Middle Short Right
2 1 2


Here is the route breakdown of the interceptions thrown by Brees:

Route Breakdown

Dig 4
Hitch 3
Slant/Drag 3
Post 2
Seam 2
Spot 1
Go 1
Deep Out 1


With that in mind let’s take a look at some of his plays:

Play 1
Situation: 3rd and 6 at NO 30
Description: Q3 – (11:31) (Shotgun) D.Brees pass short middle INTERCEPTED by D.Lansanah [G.McCoy] at NO 33. D.Lansanah for 33 yards, TOUCHDOWN. After the play, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was called on #51 D.Lansanah, for using the ball as a prop. The penalty will be assessed on the kickoff. P.Murray extra point is GOOD, Center-A.DePaola, Holder-M.Koenen. PENALTY on TB-D.Lansanah, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 15 yards, enforced between downs.
Opponent: 5. TB

Offensive Formation: Shotgun Slot Right Far
Offensive Personnel: 11
Defensive Formation: Cover 1

In the 2014 season, Drew Brees threw six interceptions to fellow NFC South opponent Buccaneers. Brees is in shotgun and the Bucs send four pass rushers. The right guard gets turned and pushed back into the pocket by DT93 Gerald McCoy while DE56 Jacquies speed rushes around the right tackle helping to collapse the pocket. Brees attempts to escape to the left but trips over the left tackle #72 Terron Armstead while throwing the ball sailing it right into the middle of the field for an easy interception.

Play 2
Situation: 3rd and 6 at CAR 13
Description: Q1 – (10:21) (Shotgun) D.Brees pass short right intended for K.Stills INTERCEPTED by D.Edwards (A.Cason) at CAR 3. D.Edwards to CAR 27 for 24 yards (T.Lelito). The ball was deflected at the 3 yard line and intercepted by Dwan Edwards at the 12 yard line and returned to the 27.
Opponent: 9. CAR

Offensive Formation: Shotgun Slot Left Far
Offensive Personnel: 11
Defensive Formation: Cover 4

Like Play 1 this one represents another fluky interception by Brees. WR84 Stills runs an outbreaking hitch route on the right side of the field past the first down marker underneath the two outside right zones of the deep cover 4 shell. Brees attempts to squeeze the ball to Stills with a bullet pass but the ball is low. CB20 Cason reads Brees’ pass and forces his arm into the chest of the wide receiver.

This is the fluky part. Instead of a standard pass deflection the ball bounces high into the air for an easy interception by nose tackle #92 Edwards.

Play 3
Situation: 2nd and 2 at SF 22
Description: Q2 – (:17) (No Huddle, Shotgun) D.Brees pass deep left intended for J.Graham INTERCEPTED by C.Culliver at SF 0. C.Culliver to SF 29 for 29 yards (B.Cooks).
Opponent: 10. SF

Offensive Formation: Shotgun Double Slot
Offensive Personnel: 11
Defensive Formation: Cover 4

Brees in shotgun has TE80 Graham running a seam route up the left hash marks from the left slot. Brees targets Graham and doesn’t even see the extra defenders around him assuming that he can squeeze the ball between the safeties and the linebackers in trail technique. Unfortunately, the 49ers are in a Cover 4 shell which places two defenders around the spot that Brees is attempting to place the ball leading to a triple-covered interception. Simply ugly.

Play 4
Situation: 1st and 10 at NO 20
Description: Q1 – (9:57) (Shotgun) D.Brees pass deep middle intended for J.Morgan INTERCEPTED by B.Benwikere at CAR 40. B.Benwikere to NO 39 for 21 yards (M.Colston). PENALTY on CAR-L.Kuechly, Illegal Block Above the Waist, 10 yards, enforced at NO 39. The Replay Official challenged the runner was down by contact ruling, and the play was REVERSED. (Shotgun) D.Brees pass deep middle intended for J.Morgan INTERCEPTED by B.Benwikere at CAR 40. B.Benwikere to CAR 40 for no gain (J.Morgan).
Opponent: 14. CAR

Offensive Formation: Shotgun Double Slot
Offensive Personnel: 12
Defensive Formation: Cover 3

Before I start talking about this play, I want you to watch LB59 Kuechly throughout the entire play. He literally rolls a Saints member down the field. After watching both the ALL-22 views and the broadcast version of this game, I’m absolutely shocked they didn’t air this on TV as it is hilarious. Moving on…

The Panthers bring four pass rushers. From shotgun, Brees takes his drop and goes through his reads while hitch stepping up into the pocket. He decides to pass deep for WR13 Morgan running a post-route from the left outside of the formation. Uncharacteristically, Brees does not feel the pass rush from DT99 Short rushing from the 3-tech position. DT99 Short works his way into the pocket by pushing back LG66 Grubbs who gets his hand up to distract Brees while he throws the ball. The ball is left too far behind WR13 Morgan allowing the defender CB25 Benwikere to intercept the pass.

This interception is completely the fault of Drew Brees. He should have sensed the pressure better coming right in front of him and should have placed the ball at least 3-5 yards further to the right giving Morgan room to get away from the defender.

Play 5
Situation: 3rd and 10 at TB 16
Description: Q3 – (3:46) (Shotgun) D.Brees pass deep middle intended for M.Colston INTERCEPTED by K.Tandy at TB 0. K.Tandy to TB 9 for 9 yards (N.Toon). The Replay Official challenged the runner was down by contact ruling, and the play was REVERSED. (Shotgun) D.Brees pass deep middle intended for M.Colston INTERCEPTED by K.Tandy at TB 0. K.Tandy to TB 3 for 3 yards (M.Colston).
Opponent: 17. TB

Offensive Formation: Shotgun Trips Right Far
Offensive Personnel: 11
Defensive Formation: Cover 2

In this final play, Brees is in shotgun and has WR12 Colston running a skinny post over the middle of the field. After the snap, Brees finds the safeties and then watches Colston move up the field and cut across below the Cover 2 defensive shell of the Bucs. Brees attempts to throw to get Colston open, but the safety watches Brees target Colston from the start of the play and intercepts him. Brees needs to move on to his next read as this one was perfectly covered the entire way.

Say he did move on he’d have two checkdowns in the flats. Neither probably could have gotten a first down, but at least the Saints could have walked away with a field goal near the end of the 3rd quarter instead of giving the ball away.

Overall, I fully blame Drew Brees for 12 of his interceptions, while only partially blame him four of them. There were some horrible ones like Play 1, but also routine interceptions that many quarterbacks throw in the NFL. The biggest problems I saw with Drew Brees’ game was that he kept forcing the ball to his receivers especially while he was getting hit. I talked about the offensive line in his 34 touchdowns article, and that certainly needs to be fixed but many of his throws were simply too risky for my liking. With Brandin Cooks stepping up into a bigger role and with Jimmy Graham’s departure to the Seattle Seahawks it’ll be very interesting to see how the Saints adjust their offense. I imagine Cooks will be more involved in the intermediate routes as well as giving Marques Colston more goalline touchdown opportunities.

Follow Samuel Gold on Twitter: @SamuelRGold.

Samuel Gold

Sam founded NFL Breakdowns after working his way through the journalist farm system and is enjoying life in the big league. Growing up outside of Washington, D.C., Sam didn’t choose the Redskins, the Redskins chose him. Out of a love for the game and an insatiable curiosity to determine why his beloved team was underperforming, Sam turned to studying film in NFL Breakdowns.