NFL QB Fumble Rates: Russell Wilson Rarely Loses the Ball

In updating career stats through 2019, I wanted to look at the rate of lost fumbles for all 98 quarterbacks with at least 1,000 pass attempts since 1991.

First, a scatter plot with career fumbles (ranging from Teddy Bridgewater at 12 to Brett Favre at 166) versus lost fumble rate (ranging from Bridgewater/Tyrod at 25.0% to Kyle Orton at 63.6%).

LostFumPct

Orton may have only fumbled 33 times, but he lost 21 of them. He’s the only QB over 60%, and coincidentally he’s just ahead of his predecessor Rex Grossman (59.4%). Marc Bulger also lost 59.5% for the second-highest rate since 1991. Andy Dalton (57.1%) and Matt Ryan (51.4%) are the only active QBs above 50% in lost fumbles.

I wish we had fumble data broken down better into fumbles on aborted snaps/handoffs, fumbles on QB runs, and strip-sacks. You would assume someone with more strip-sacks would have a worse lost fumble%, but I couldn’t confirm that right now. Covering up a lot of bad exchanges with the center could also lower a QB’s lost fumble rate.

Russell Wilson has only lost 20 of his 74 fumbles (27.0%) and NFL dot com has his recovering 31 fumbles. I don’t have recovery data for all QBs, and I also don’t know if it’s available anywhere broken down by recovery of own fumbles vs. teammate fumbles, but that could provide some further insight into these numbers. Wilson has generally been very lucky at his fumbles not leading to turnovers. His rate is only bested by Bridgewater and Tyrod at 25%, though they only have 32 fumbles combined in their careers.

Here is the full table for all 98 quarterbacks since 1991 (regular season only):

QBFumTbl

On average these quarterbacks lost 41.6% of their fumbles, so recovery has been better than a 50/50 proposition for most.