Perfect Passer Rating Is a Little Ridiculous
In San Francisco’s 27-14 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during Week 11 of the 2023 NFL Season, Brock Purdy achieved a “perfect passer rating.” With a fantastic three-touchdown, 333-yard performance, Purdy became the second quarterback this season to achieve the feat after Josh Allen did it back in October. At this point, you may be wondering: what is a perfect passer rating, and how does a quarterback accomplish it?
Looking into it further, passer rating is a completely ridiculous statistic.
What Even Is Perfect Passer Rating?
Passer Rating was developed in 1971. The minimum qualifications for perfection are that a quarterback must attempt at least 10 passes, complete at least 77.5% of them with zero interceptions, have a minimum of 11.875% of their passes result in touchdowns, and have at least 12.5 air yards per attempt.
The technical value for this achievement is a passer rating of 158.3.
The Problem With Perfect Passer Rating
My big issue with perfect passer rating is that there’s no real standard for quality of performance. Hypothetically, a quarterback could complete eight of 10 passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns and earn a perfect passer rating. That’s not even really a hypothetical. In 1976, Atlanta’s Scott Hunter earned a perfect passer rating after completing 10 of 11 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns. That’s a far cry from the seven-touchdown, 406-yard “perfect” performance Nick Foles had for Philadelphia in 2013.
In other sports, perfection is standardized. Perfect games in baseball are fundamentally the same: 27 men up, 27 men down. Bowling a 300 is the same thing every time. In football, a quarterback can achieve perfection with a relatively ho-hum performance. Also, 158.3 is the most random number ever. At least make the formula max out at 100 or something.
Keep in mind that I don’t say this to discredit Brock Purdy. Throwing for 333 yards and three touchdowns is an excellent performance, point blank period. However, the word “perfect” is doing a lot of lifting here. It isn’t necessarily an appropriate indicator of the quality of the performance in question. Hypothetically, a quarterback could complete 49 of 50 passes for 4,900 yards and 49 touchdowns and one interception. That would be an insane performance, objectively the best of all time, yet it wouldn’t be “perfect” because of the interception.
Shoutout to Brock Purdy for a great game. This isn’t really about him. It’s really about how the NFL needs better stats to accurately communicate how well a quarterback played.
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