The NFL passer rating as we know it today was initially presented by Don Smith in 1973, then working for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and has been used ever since. The passer rating combines four different efficiency measures into one number: completion percentage, average yards per attempt, touchdown percentage, and interception percentage.
The objective in creating the passer rating was to have a single number that would differentiate between outstanding, excellent, average and poor performance. Below are the values that - at the time - denoted those performances in the passer rating.
|Completion Percentage||Yards per Attempt||Touchdown Percentage||Interception Percentage||Passer Rating|
The passer rating was implemented based on the league averages in the early 1970s, and over time, those averages have changed (e.g. nobody except Giants and Jets fans would call a 60% completion rate "excellent" anymore), as has their weight in the passer rating formula.
And while a passer rating of 100.0 may not be considered "excellent" anymore in this pass-happy era of the NFL, it is still a pretty good performance any way you look at it. And one way of looking at it is through the W/L records of QBs who had a rating above 100: Pro-Football-Reference.com shows that there are 61 active QBs in the NFL today who have thrown for a 100+ passer rating at least once in their career. The combined W/L record of those QBs in games with a 100+ rating is 820-201-2 for an impressive .801 winning percentage.
If we accept that that a 100+ rating in a game is a "pretty good", perhaps even an "excellent" performance by the QB, it follows that a QB with a lot of 100+ rating games is a pretty good, perhaps even excellent quarterback. And indeed, if you look at the active QBs with the most 100+ rating games in their career, you'll find the usual suspects at the top of the list: Peyton Manning (92 games with a 100+ rating), Tom Brady (84), and Drew Brees (73) lead all QBs in this category.
In fairness though, all three guys have been around the block a few times, and also lead all NFL QBs in number of games started with 224 (P. Manning), 175 (Brady), and 169 (Brees), so it's not a big surprise to see that the three also lead the league in 100+ rating games. So let's look at these numbers a little differently. The following table is limited to the 33 active NFL Qbs who've started at least 32 games in their career and shows the QB's W/L records in 100+ rating games and their 100+ rating games as a percentage of games started.
100+ Passer Rating Games (click on column headers to sort)
|QB||100+ Passer Rating games||Games Started||100+ games in % |
of total games started
If you sort the table by "100+ games in % of total games started" you'll see that Aaron Rodgers throws more 100+ rating games than anybody else, and by quite a margin: His rate of 60% is eight points better than the next guy on the list, none other than Tony Romo. Romo leads a small group of QBs around the 50% mark that includes Tom Brady and Phillip Rivers.
If you judge a QB by the company he keeps, Cowboys fans should be quite happy about Tony Romo, as he is in pretty good company in this ranking. So when Tony Romo says "I'm not an 8-8 quarterback", he's not kidding.
There's a three-point drop-off from Rivers to Matt Schaub, who leads a list of seven quarterbacks through to Cam Newton, who are all tightly bunched around the 40% mark. There's another six-point drop-off after Newton to QBs who only manage a 100+ rating performance in less than a third of their starts. The list eventually peters out with QBs who only manage a 100+ rating in every fifth or even fewer games.
Sorting the table by "Win percentage" reveals some absolutely astonishing numbers: Matt Ryan and Jay Cutler have had 33 and 26 100+ rating games respectively, and have each lost only one of those games. Ryan and Cutler lead a group of QBs that includes Tom Brady, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning who are all at or above a .900 win percentage. Quite an extraordinary feat, but one that also highlights the importance of a good supporting cast on both defense and special teams that can hold the opponent in check when the own QB has a good day.
There's another group of eight QBs who have a win percentage of between .800 and .850, which is just slightly above the league average. As a group, these QBs have struggled a little more with getting defensive support.
Another nine QBs, including Tony Romo and Eli Manning, find themselves with a below average win percentage of between .700 and .799. Now if you're thinking that these are pretty impressive win percentages anyway, consider that these percentages are significantly different versus those of the top group. Take Tony Romo: if we were to apply Jay Cutler's win percentage of .962 to Romo's 37-11 W/L record, Romo's record would jump to 46-2. That's nine extra wins over the last seven years, which may have been the difference between making the playoffs and not making the playoffs the last two years.
Here's are Romo 100+ rating games of the last two seasons:
All four losses here were very painful losses, and you can't help but wonder where the Cowboys would be today had they won those games. Ultimately though, it's not one player that wins and loses games. Tony Romo has more than his fair share of detractors, but going by the company he keeps in the stats above, he is at the very top of the game. Now if only the rest of the team would catch up.