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RED Chalk Talk: Passer Rating

How is a quarterback's passer rating calculated?


"You cannot be a smart football analyst and dismiss passer rating. In fact, it is impossible to look at the incredible correlation of victory to passer rating and then dismiss it."

Kerry Byrne said this in a Sports Illustrated article in 2011, also pointing out that in 2010, teams that posted a higher passer rating than their opponent went 203-53, a win percentage of 79.3%. He then went on to conduct research showing that since 1940 eight teams have led the league in both offensive and defense passer rating. They all won championships.

So what is passer rating? Boiled down, it is a statistic used to determine the overall performance of a quarterback. It takes into account their passing attempts, passing yards, and touchdowns and interceptions thrown. The highest possible passer rating in the NFL is 158.3, the lowest is 0. Generally, the higher your completion percentage and throwing more touchdowns than interceptions will yield the higher score. To get extra nerdy, you can find the formula at the bottom of this article.

The formula was first used for official statistics in 1973. Two years prior, then-NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle asked a committee to create a system to better rate quarterback performances. The Pro Football Hall of Fame's Don Smith and Elias Sports Bureau's Seymour Siwoff created a system using all the compiled stats from 1960-1970 and used that to create what we now know as passer rating.

Critics of the statistic argue that it does not take into account other factors important to a quarterback's and team's success, such as quarterback rushing yards and scores, and quality of the team's receivers and offensive line.

The highest single-season passer rating belongs to Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, who posted 122.5 in 2011, a season where he completed 68.3% of his passes with 45 touchdowns and only six interceptions. Rodgers also holds the NFL record for career passer rating at 106.7, nearly ten points higher than the next highest-rated QB. Last season, the Dallas Cowboys' Tony Romo led the league with 113.2.

A = (Completions/Attempts – .3) x 5
B = (Yards/Attempts – 3) x .25
C = (Touchdowns/Attempts) x 20
D = 2.375 – (Interceptions/Attempts x 25)



(A through D have a max of 2.375, and any negative number is replaced with zero)

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