Within the system, there were statistical levels in the different categories set up where rating points stopped and were not increased. For example, as it relates to completion percentage, rating points for that category are not awarded for anything higher than 77.5. There was actually a passer rating system booklet put out in 1973, which has individual ratings for every conceivable percentage. For completion percentage, a rating of 2.375 is awarded for that 77.5 percentage. If a player completes 80 percent of his passes in a game, it is still 2.375. Obviously, a "perfect" completion percentage would be 100.0. Each category has a top rating of 2.375.
QB Drew Brees
Frankly, it makes me want to scream when I hear anyone refer to the "perfect" passer rating. It happened Monday night with Drew Brees' performance in New Orleans' victory over New England. Brees was asked in a postgame interview about achieving the "perfect" rating. On the ESPN postgame show, the question was actually asked of commentator Matt Millen if he considered Brees' effort "perfect." Thankfully, Millen said it's probably impossible to be perfect.
For the record, Brees was 18-for-23 for 371 yards, with five touchdowns and no interceptions against the Patriots. His completion percentage for the game was 78.3, his average per attempt 16.13 and his touchdown percentage 21.7. Interception percentage isn't affected in this case for the purposes of the ratings system because zero interceptions will always have a value of 2.375.
Interestingly, because the booklet is in my possession (I do wonder how many other people actually have one!), what the rating would be if it were to be taken higher can be figured out. It's pretty simple, so it would be easy for the NFL to do the same and set the record straight, especially when there haven't been that many "perfect" ratings recorded.
In completion percentage, for example, a percentage of 77.3 is awarded 2.365 rating points; 77.4 is 2.370 and 77.5 is 2.375. It's easy to see that every 0.1 of completion percentage is worth .005 rating points. This can be figured for every category, simply seeing what the rating point increase is for every percentage point. In touchdown percentage it is .02. For average yards per attempt, it's a little funky, since that statistical percentage goes out two numbers from the decimal point. Thus, there is an increase of .003, then .002, then .003 and .002 again, but always .005 for every .02 percentage increase.
Call me crazy, but it took all of about 10 minutes to figure out what Brees' passer rating really was Monday night.
Congratulations, Drew, your passer rating was really 206.8. That's damn good. But, no, it isn't perfect.
Howard Balzer is a Senior NFL Writer for The Sports Xchange.