Any quarterback worthy of a starting job in the NFL knows how important ball security is. The need to avoid turnovers only intensifies as the offense gets into the red zone.
Which field generals are at their best inside the 20-yard line? PointAfter, a sports visualization site that's part of the Graphiq network, looked back at the 2015 season to see which passers excelled in the most critical area of the field. To do this, we turned to Pro-Football-Reference and examined all quarterbacks who had at least 25 red zone pass attempts on the year, then ranked them by passer rating. Passer rating takes into account completions, attempts, yards, touchdowns and interceptions and assigns a score on a scale from 0 to 158.3.
It's important to keep in mind that passer rating is limited in its evaluation of quarterbacks. It does not take into account rushing stats or fumbles, which would both factor into a player's effectiveness in the red zone. Further, because we're only looking at pass attempts inside the 20-yard line, factoring in a quarterback's passing yards totals can be misleading, since they're operating with limited space.
Still, relying on passer rating in this context shows which players succeed in avoiding momentum-killing incompletions and catastrophic interceptions near the goal line.
There were 36 quarterbacks who attempted at least 25 red zone pass attempts last season, though three -- Peyton Manning, Matt Hasselbeck and Johnny Manziel -- are not on active rosters. Manning and Hasselbeck both retired, while Manziel is currently a free agent. We'll count down the remaining players from No. 33 to No. 1. Of that group, nine signal-callers had passer ratings over 100, including one surprising player who led the pack with a rating of over 120.