Perhaps the NFL's original X-Man, Patriot great Steve Grogan stood alone as the outstanding running quarterback of his era. Grogan's scrambling
ability was nothing short of a dominant mutation in a gene pool of drop-back passers. In fact, his single-season record of twelve rushing touchdowns
by a quarterback, set nearly three decades ago in 1976, still stands today.
But Grogan's record isn't safe. The Ice Age of the NFL is upon us, and in accordance with evolution, only the strong will survive. The glaciation of
T-Rex Grossman and Dinsoaur Drew Bledsoe - just to name two - is all but inevitable.
Steve McNair. Michael Vick. Daunte Culpepper. Donovan McNabb. Quite simply, the quarterbacking elite of modern professional football and the future of
the game. Their ability to evade defenders doesn't just help them find open receivers - it enables them to run the ball effectively.
The widely accepted passer rating formula manipulates percentages of success to define "effective" quarterbacking in terms of efficiency. For example,
the feat of throwing for 300 yards and three touchdowns in a single game increasingly loses merit with every attempt beyond 30. A laborious analysis
of the implications of statistics yielded can go on forever, but the basic gist of it is "the higher, the better."
Contrary to popular belief, passer rating is remarkably easy to compute. (1) Yards per attempt, (2) completions per attempt, (3) touchdowns per
attempt and (4) interceptions per attempt are manipulated to yield the following formula:
Rating = [25 + 10(%Completions) + 40*(%TD) - 50(%INT) + 50 (YD/ATT)]/12
As the quarterback prototype evolves, so too must the statistic that quantifies his effectiveness. Although the current passer rating forumula
accurately measures a signal caller's passing efficiency, it fails to comprehensively account for his overall effectiveness. After all, today's elite
quarterbacks do more than just pass the ball.
Expansion of the passer rating formula would give birth to a comprehensive quarterback rating, justifying the quantification of the performance of the
modern quarterback by acknowledging his ever-emerging role as a more complete football player. To accurately gauge efficiency as a measure of
"effectiveness," key rushing statistics, including yards per attempt, touchdowns per attempt, and fumbles per attempt must be accounted for in the
numerical evaluation of a quarterback.
A quarterback's ability to "make plays with his legs" is much less an intangible quality than physical production that can be measured in raw
statistics. Did first-year starter Michael Vick have an above-average '02 season in leading the Falcons to the playoffs and establishing himself as
arguably the Most Valuable Player in the NFL? Rhetorical questions ask for rhetorical answers, but Vick's 81.3 passer rating somehow begs for the
A rating system might be in order for all the offensive skilled positions, wide receiver included. After catching 106 balls in '01, Tampa Bay's
Keyshawn Johnson earned a spot in the Pro Bowl. But Johnson's 11.9 yards per catch and lone touchdown ranked at the bottom of the league among
starting wide-outs. A wide receiver efficiency rating based upon (1) touchdowns per pass thrown to, (2) catches per pass thrown to and (3) yards per
catch would help dispel the myth that, despite his opinion, Keyshawn is an NFL superstar.
Our love for the NFL is surpassed only by our passion for scrutinizing its players. Few would argue with the current rating's ranking of Steve Young,
Joe Montana, Dan Marino and Brett Favre, respectively, as the modern era's four greatest quarterbacks. But in order to properly analyze today's
quarterback as more than a passer, we must scrutinize the very criteria by which we scrutinize him. Evolution demands it.
[Edited on 5/10/04 by TRD]