The NFL Passer Rating Stat is Bad and You Should Feel Bad for Using It

Developed in 1971, the NFL passer rating statistic is a formula used to determine just how good a QB performed in a game – the only problem is that it totally sucks.

The Scale Doesn’t Make Sense

Most things are graded on a normal scale; like 1-10 or 1-100 or something that makes sense. A perfect passer rating is a score of 158.3, because… well, nobody knows. On the other end, if every single pass a QB throws is incomplete, he gets a 39.6 passer rating.  Let the head scratching commence.

The Formula is Out-of-Whack

The NFL’s passer rating formula consists of four variables:

  1. Completion Percentage
  2. Yards per Attempt
  3. Touchdowns per Attempt
  4. Interceptions per Attempt

Obviously, the formula is trying to be as objective as possible, but some things just can’t be measured with stats. Let’s say that a Quarterback is backed up on his own 1 yard line. He drops back to pass but everyone is covered. At the last second he sees his running back leaking out of the backfield and hits him with a short swing pass. The RB eludes 4 tackles en-route to a highlight reel 99 yard touchdown play.  The QB has 1 attempt, 1 completion, 99 yards, and a touchdown.  Let’s fast track this guy to the Hall of Fame, right?

While there are certain minimum requirements to the formula (20 pass attempts), there is far too much weight on things that are out of the quarterbacks’ hands – but even worse, is that it does not detract from bad football plays. Notice how sacks are not a part of the formula. Rather than risk an incomplete pass to lower his passer rating, a QB could just take a sack with no negative impact to their rating.  While we highly doubt that quarterbacks are making throwaway decisions based on it’s effect to their QBR, sometimes taking a sack is due to a bad decision by the QB and they should be docked points.

It Doesn’t Pass the Eye Test

Now before you read this list, we want to be 100% clear.  We are not here to offend anyone or to make claims about who is a good quarterback or a bad quarterback or anything.  We are just going to make a statement.

The last six (6) quarterbacks to record a perfect passer rating are:

  1. Ryan Tannehill
  2. Marcus Mariota
  3. Geno Smith
  4. Alex Smith
  5. Nick Foles
  6. Robert Griffin III.

And that’s all that really needs to be said about that.


About Aaron Garcia

Aaron is an avid sports fan who passionately follows the NFL, NBA and MLB, in addition to NCAA Sports. He is an Arizona State University grad who loves the Dodgers and the Patriots.