Passer rating, the NFL’s official statistic for measuring the efficiency of quarterbacks, has enough flaws that it really shouldn’t be taken too seriously. But if you’re going to use it at all, make sure you’re adjusting for inflation.
That’s because passer rating has risen and risen and risen through the years and is now at an all-time high. The NFL average passer rating league-wide in 2020 is 94.1, the highest in NFL history through the first six weeks of any season.
How much higher is the league-average passer rating now than in the past? Here’s what it looked like in previous decades:
In 2010 it was 84.1.
In 2000 it was 78.1.
In 1990 it was 77.3.
In 1980 it was 73.7.
In 1970 it was 65.6.
In 1960 it was 64.2.
In 1950 it was 52.9.
Passer rating has plenty of flaws. It doesn’t include a lot of important parts of quarterback play, such as rushing, sacks and fumbles. And the way it’s calculated and scale of 0 to 158.3 is downright goofy.
But if you’re going to use passer rating, those issues aside, you simply can’t use it to compare quarterbacks from different eras. If you do you’ll discover that Roger Staubach led the NFL with an 84.9 passer rating in 1978. Mitch Trubisky was benched this year with a passer rating of 87.4.