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Signature Stats: Accuracy Percentage

2013-WK05-ACCPCTCompletion percentage is a great statistic for evaluating quarterbacks. Quite simply it’s tough to move the ball consistently through the air without actually completing passes frequently. The only problem with completion percentage is that there are so many factors that can sway the stat that quarterbacks have little to no control over.

Drops, batted passes, spikes, throwaways, and passes where the quarterback was hit as he was throwing all negatively impact completion percentage, but are also all highly random events. So while you’re getting a cut and dried relationship between completions and attempts, you’re not getting an accurate measure of performance.

To solve this, PFF offers Accuracy Percentage. The formula is as follows:

Accuracy% = (Completions + Drops) / (Attempts – TA – BP – Spikes – HAT)

Accuracy Percentage is basically how accurate a quarterback is on passes that target and reach a receiver. Now that you know how it works let’s check out the top performers.

RkNameTeamAccuracy %Completion %Difference
1Peyton ManningDEN85.6%75.8%9.8%
2Philip RiversSD82.3%73.7%8.6%
3Matt RyanATL80.0%69.3%10.7%
4Drew BreesNO78.4%69.7%8.7%
5Tony RomoDAL77.9%71.8%6.1%
6Aaron RodgersGB77.5%66.4%11.1%
7Ryan TannehillMIA77.1%62.6%14.5%
8Robert Griffin IIIWAS75.9%62.4%13.5%
9Matthew StaffordDET75.1%63.8%11.3%
10Terrelle PryorOAK74.7%68.3%6.4%

Peyton Manning has truly been on another level this season. His Accuracy Percentage would be the best single-season mark by over four percentage points and only seven quarterbacks all season have had a single game with an Acc% as high as his is for the season. Right on his heels, though, has been the resurgent Philip Rivers. One of the main reasons Rivers’ has been much more accurate is that he’s finding a lot more receivers in rhythm. His average time to throw has dropped from 2.79 (10th-slowest) last season to 2.41 (third-fastest) this season and in turn he’s had far fewer throwaways. In 2012 he threw away one out of every 12.5 passes while this season that number has almost quadrupled to one out of 47.5 this season.

RkNameTeamAccuracy %Completion %Difference
25Tom BradyNE68.1%56.6%11.5%
26Carson PalmerARZ67.5%58.9%8.6%
27E.J. ManuelBUF67.4%56.7%10.7%
28Colin KaepernickSF66.7%56.1%10.6%
29Joe FlaccoBLT66.0%57.7%8.3%
30Michael VickPHI65.8%53.8%12.0%
31Russell WilsonSEA65.8%58.3%7.5%
32Eli ManningNYG63.9%53.7%10.2%
33Blaine GabbertJAX62.8%48.8%14.0%
34Josh FreemanTB58.2%45.7%12.5%

What happened to Russell Wilson? Last season his 77.1 Acc% bested the likes of Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady while this year he’s fallen to the fourth-worst percentage. Thankfully for them, Seattle is still 4-1 without their quarterbacks ‘A’ game. It is worrisome, though, that against the three best teams Seattle has faced (49ers, Texans, Colts) Wilson didn’t crack 60% Accuracy in any of them. Similar concerns apply to Colin Kaepernick whose Acc% has dropped 9.3 percentage points from last year. Kaepernick’s accuracy struggles have been especially apparent in his deep passing. His league-leading 60.6 Acc% on throws over 20 yards in 2012 has dropped to a pedestrian 30% this season.


•  The largest difference between Acc% and Comp% comes from Brandon Weeden. His 72.9 Acc% is 18.4 percentage points higher than his 54.5 Comp%.

•  Tony Romo, on the other hand, has the smallest difference, thanks in large part to the Cowboys having the second-lowest drop rate.

•  E.J. Manuel has found the regular season to be quite a bit tougher sledding than the preseason. His 90.0 Acc% in two preseason games has fallen dramatically to 67.4 in the regular season.

•  While there was no denying that Josh Freeman was disastrous in Tampa this season, he didn’t get much help. Freeman had 19% of his catchable passes dropped, easily the highest percentage in the league.

•  It appears as though Marc Trestman has been able to bring out the accuracy in Jay Cutler once again. Cutler’s Acc% has been below 71 every season in Chicago after he had an Acc% of 73.3 his last season in Denver. This year he sits right outside the Top 10 at 74.6.


Follow Mike on Twitter: @PFF_MikeRenner


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