How NFL Quarterback Ratings Work

Problems with the Rating System

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning prepares to pass in a 2010 game against the Denver Broncos.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning prepares to pass in a 2010 game against the Denver Broncos.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

Often, the first complaint heard about the quarterback ratings system is that it ignores a lot of what makes a good quarterback in the first place, such as leadership, play-calling or even a quarterback's rushing stats. What that means in the long run is that even if a quarterback is a strong leader and makes the right decisions while running for a touchdown or two, his rating will suffer if he doesn't complete his passes.

The critics to the system also mention that a lot of what goes into the rating is beyond a quarterback's control. If he throws 10 amazing passes and eight of them bounce off the receiver's hands, the quarterback is still docked for completing only two of 10 passes. While those figures would be tough to calculate, some fans still think there might be a better way to chart results. One such suggestion would average out the four stats so they count for a similar value and would also look at the total points scored in the game for which the quarterback was responsible. For some, this method would even out the playing field [source: Gober].

However, at the moment, the current system seems to be the most stable one so far. The data used is concrete and involves the major aspects of a passer's job. With any team sport, it is difficult to isolate one player without considering the work of his or her teammates. So, while Don Smith's system might have its problems and fans are sure to complain from time to time, it's still the golden standard for quarterbacks and will probably remain so for many more seasons.

If you want more football action, read on for links that will lead you to more information about the game.

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More Great Links


  • Gober, Jon Michael. "A Points Per Game Rating System For NFL Quarterbacks." Ohio State University. 2009. (Sept. 17, 2010)
  • National Football League. "NFL Quarterback Rating Formula."2010. (Sept. 17, 2010)
  • Oates, Bob. "All Things Considered, Quarterback Rating System Points to Montana." The LA Times. Sept. 25, 1985. (Sept. 17, 2010)
  • Steinberg, Don. "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb: A Survival Guide to the NFL's Quarterback Rating System." GQ. October 2001. (Sept. 17, 2010)