Tuesday, December 15, 2015

NFL Cumulative Passer Rating Hits 90

by John Turney

In 1973 the NFL adopted what they called the NFL Passer Rating which was used to award the passing champion for the league. Prior to that they had used several different systems to crown the passing leader. The formula was actually created by the Pro Football Hall of Fame by a committee headed by the director of the Hall, Don Smith,

Smith stated that it wasn't really a passer rating, but "a passing statistic" and the purpose was to grade efficiency by a passer. Four categories were used, completion percentage, average yards per attempt, touchdown percentage and interception percentage. Smith said, "we wanted each of those categories to be about equal and that is how the formula was devised."

Through 1977 or so, the ratings were fairly stagnant, one year up, the next year down and from 1954 through 1978 the league passer rating was between 60 and 65. The rules changed of 1978 then caused the ratings to go up, as passers had a bit more time and receivers were able to get open more often. The passer rating jumped to the low-70s and has been rising ever since.

Through week 14 the passer rating for the league is 90.3, and if the next three weeks follow the same pattern, it will be the first time the rating will finish a season above 90. When the statistic was invented in 1973 the average was 64.8 and 90.0 would have been outstanding. Now, it's average.

The chart below marks the rise of the passer rating since 2002, which was the first season it ever topped 80.0 (The first season it was above 70.0 was 1979). 2015 is through Week 14.

NFL Passing Statistics since 2002. Chart credit: Pro Football Journal

Currently, the league-wide completion percentage is 62.9%, the highest all-time. The yards per attempt is 7.26, the highest since 1957. The touchdown percentage is 4.6%, the highest since 1969, when the NFL and AFL combined for a 5.0% touchdown percentage. Finally, the interception percentage is 2.4%, the lowest-ever.

One note, though sacks are not a part of the formula, they are at 6.03%, the second-lowest since that stat was added by Seymour Siwoff of Elias Sports Bureau in 1963.

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1 comment:

  1. Goes way against what apologists of today's 'game' try to spin.

    Good stuff, John.