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Tony Romo and the Passer Rating — Efficacy and performance in 2013

In the NFL, measures attempts, completions, yards, touchdowns, and interceptions for the position. The stat was developed by the NFL's statistical committee in the early 70s as a way to judge a passing performance beyond just total yards.

Since passers can pile up yardage easily against defenses that have a big lead late in a game, high passing yardage totals don't lead to wins.

Passer rating, then, was designed to reward the kind of passing that wins football games.

Since started his first game in 2006, he's finished every season ranked among the league's 10 highest-rated passers. Seven seasons.

In the entire of professional football, only (13) and (11) had more consecutive top-10 seasons to start a career.

Brady will not catch Montana because his streak of top-10 seasons ended last year. The Patriots just didn't have the targets for Brady's rating to get into the top 10.

That's why I think the “passer” rating is a misnomer.

What's really being rated is not the passer or the receiver, but the pass itself. And the pass depends, at the very least, on both.

The target does matter.

Remember when some suggested that Romo was in decline when his passer rating fell 12 points from 102.5 in 2011 to its lowest in his career (90.5) in 2012? That wasn't a QB in decline; it was all about the inability to replace .

Romo's targets In 2011

  • To Robinson — 47 of 72 for 787 YD, 11 TD, 2 INT, 130.3 Passer Rating
  • To everyone else — 299 of 450 for 3,397 YD, 20 TD, 8 INT, 96.3 Passer Rating

Romo's targets In 2012

Nobody was talking about this at the time, but when you factor out the 3rd , Romo's rating dropped only 1 point from one season to the next.

Not bad for a quarterback who was playing with one legitimate target less than he had the year before.

The player on the receiving end of the pass does matter. It's true for the likes of Tom Brady, Tony Romo, or any other quarterback.

Let's move on and look at Romo's best (and worst) targets in 2013.

Tony Romo‘s Passes in 2013

  • — 85 of 142, 1,150 YD, 8.1 YPA, 12 TD, 3 INT, 105.1 RTG
  • — 61 of 93, 716 YD, 7.7 YPA, 8 TD, 0 INT, 117.5 RTG
  • — 42 of 69, 679 YD, 9.8 YPA, 5 TD, 2 INT, 105.9 RTG
  • — 48 of 55, 311 YD, 5.7 YPA, 1 TD, 0 INT, 96.3 RTG
  • Beasley — 38 of 49, 361 YD, 7.4 YPA, 2 TD, 2 INT, 94.0 RTG
  • Others — 68 of 127, 611 YD, 4.8 YPA, 3 TD, 3 INT, 64.8 RTG

Spikes and throwaways where there was no discernible target are not included.

Although he went as an alternate, Witten was absolutely deserving of his 9th selection. Among tight ends, only Jimmy Graham and Greg Olsen had such a high rating on at least that many targets.

Bryant continued his streak of 100+ seasons. Of receivers with a minimum of 6 targets per game, only Dez and Wes Welker have finished in the top 10 each of the last four seasons.

Williams had a promising rookie year on his 69 targets, which was less than half of Dez's total, but there were situations in which Williams was a detriment to the team.

Romo's Redzone Targets Only

  • Bryant — 13 of 21, 68 YD, 3.2 YPA, 10 TD, 0 INT, 106.7 RTG
  • Witten — 9 of 16, 73 YD, 4.6 YPA, 6 TD, 0 INT, 107.6 RTG
  • Williams — 4 of 10, 42 YD, 4.2 YPA, 2 TD, 1 INT, 52.9 RTG
  • Beasley — 6 of 7, 35 YD, 5.0 YPA, 2 TD, 0 INT, 127.1 RTG
  • Murray — 5 of 7, 33 YD, 4.7 YPA, 1 TD, 0 INT, 120.8 RTG
  • Others — 3 of 8, 27 YD, 3.4 YPA, 1 TD, 0 INT, 87.0 RTG

Romo-to-Bryant has been unstoppable in the redzone and produced 19 touchdowns and 0 interceptions since 2010.

Witten had one of his best redzone years in 2013.

Beasley's potential to help his team inside the 20 is immense.

Of the five top targets, the obvious weak link was Williams, and these numbers don't even reflect his redzone fumble in San Diego.

Romo on 3rd Down Only

  • Bryant — 16 of 31, 207 YD, 6.7 YPA, 5 TD, 0 INT, 112.5 RTG, 14 FD (45.2%)
  • Witten — 14 of 27, 155 YD, 5.7 YPA, 2 TD, 0 INT, 93.9 RTG, 12 FD (40.7%)
  • Williams — 11 of 22, 157 YD, 7.1 YPA, 0 TD, 2 INT, 35.6 RTG, 8 FD (31.8%)
  • Beasley — 14 of 18, 146 YD, 8.1 YPA, 1 TD, 0 INT, 119.0 RTG, 11 FD (61.1%)
  • — 3 of 13, 27 YD,  2.1 YPA, 0 TD, 0 INT, 23.1 RTG, 3 FD (23.1%)
  • Others — 5 of 14, 43 YD, 3.1 YPA, 0 TD, 2 INT, 5.1 RTG, 1 FD (7.1%)

The last number is the percentage of that player's targets that resulted in a first down.

The ranked 26th in the NFL in 3rd down conversion percentage in 2013, and Tony Romo had a 76.7 rating on 3rd down.

That's a full 20 points lower than his season rating. So, what made Romo so horrible on 3rd down?

That rating was all about the receivers who were the targets of those passes. The passes to Beasley, Bryant, and Witten resulted in 8 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, a 113.3 passer rating, and a 49-percent conversion rate.

The passes to everybody else resulted in 0 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, a 19.7 rating, and a 24-percent conversion rate.

So, in conclusion, the target does matter.

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