LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 30: Robert Griffin III #10 of the Washington Redskins talks with Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys after the Redskins defeated the Cowboys 28-18 at FedExField on December 30, 2012 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post on DeMarco Murray, I will be posting a bunch of predictions from now until the start of the season. I’ll examine them at the end of the year, hopefully to find that I got more right than wrong. Today’s prediction is that quarterback Tony Romo will throw 12 or fewer interceptions in 2013.
Romo has started games in seven NFL seasons, throwing an average of 13 interceptions per year. That number is skewed, however, since Romo didn’t play in every game in three seasons. In reality, he’s thrown 91 picks in his 93 NFL starts—0.98 per game. If we extrapolate that over a 16-game season, Romo’s average number of picks would obviously be 16.
So what makes me so confident that Romo will limit the turnovers in 2013? Well, his interception rate was really trending downward prior to last year. It was as low as 1.6 percent in 2009 and 1.9 percent in 2011—Romo’s last two full seasons prior to 2012. And Romo’s 2012 interception total of 19 was inflated by the fact that Dallas was down so often. That forced Romo to throw more passes, which will of course naturally increase his interceptions, and throw a lower quality of passes. In games like that against the Chicago Bears on Monday night, Romo tried to fit passes into tight windows in order to mount a comeback. In my opinion, he’s always been selfless like that; he’ll take the heat for throwing too many interceptions, even if the majority of them come in situations in which he could have easily tucked the ball to save his stats.
In 2013, I’m betting on the fact that 1) Romo won’t again attempt 648 passes and 2) his interception rate will regress toward the mean. Even if we include Romo’s shortened 2010 season, he’s thrown 45 interceptions on 1,933 attempts over the past four seasons. That’s an interception rate of 2.3 percent, even including last year’s outlier. If we disregard 2012, Romo’s recent interception rate would drop to 2.0 percent. Even if he again attempts 600 passes in 2013—which would be only the second time he’s even crossed 550 attempts—Romo would check in at exactly 12 picks with a 2.0 interception rate.
People are going to look for ways to knock Romo. They say he can’t win late in the year and he throws too many costly interceptions. My guess is that he’s going to limit those turnovers in 2013.
Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.