Reality check: Bill Parcell’s checklist
Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcels used to have some rules for selecting a quarterback. The list is a little outdated now, given that underclassmen are entering the NFL more than ever.
Nevertheless, it’s worthwhile to see what a strong candidate for the NFL used to look like, and where the modern quarterbacks like Fields may be falling short.
Must be a three-year starter.
Must be a college senior.
Must graduate from college.
Must start at least 30 games.
Must score 2 TDs for every interception thrown.
Must complete at least 60% of his pass attempts.
Must win at least 23 games.
Baker Mayfield of the Browns nailed the heck out of this list.
Justin Fields had a terrific career, but he only had two years as a starter (including the Covid year, of course, which was not really a full season), and left with a year of eligibility still remaining. This tends to be the norm these days. Nevertheless, he has not had the benefit of the extra two seasons as a starter that Baker Mayfield and others had.
How could he be equally well prepared?
Fields only met two of Parcell’s criteria (TD/INT ratio = 7.0, compared to the 2.0 that Parcells recommends; completion percentage of 68.4% compared to 60.0% recommended by Parcells). If you believe Parcells, he probably needs another year before he is ready to be an NFL quarterback. Ideally, it should have been at the college level, but this just was not going to be the case.
Parcells list isn’t going to guarantee that the kid will make the Hall of Fame, just make it as a signal-caller in the NFL. Readers of this space are continually admonished that in reality there is no such thing as a “Franchise Quarterback.” Real quarterbacks have flaws and are not at the top of their game every week.
The Bears are one of the most all-time quarterback-dysfunctional teams in the NFL, rivaling Cleveland in their obsession with “franchise quarterbacks” and never agreeing on what constitutes said quarterback.
It’s hard to believe, but Mitchell Trubisky made the Pro Bowl, then two years later the fans were totally unhappy with 6-3 and ran him out of town. He has the reputation of being a terrible quarterback. He’s probably in the top 25 or so and could lead a team if it had the NFL’s best defense. However, if they keep blowing their salary cap and trading draft picks on quarterbacks, that kind of slows down the building process.
They wanted Nick Foles to save the team from Trubisky after trading for him from the Jacksonville Jaguars. In any case, the Bears still have Nick Foles on the team, and they are waiting for some luckless team in the NFL to suffer an injury at the quarterback position so that hopefully they can trade Foles for a bonanza in draft picks. Good luck with that. In reality, the Bears will be lucky if any team is willing to take on Foles and his three-year, $24 million contract.
This is the environment that Fields is walking into. Expectations are for him to be vastly better than Andy Dalton in his first year, which is not likely. He really needs a year or two of on-the-job training, which will not please Bears fans.
On Sunday, the Bears coaching staff will probably be organized enough to make Fields a threat if not an elite quarterback. Ohio State Buckeye fans will probably recognize their guy.