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Is Cooper Rush’s success with the Cowboys based on coaching, or his meeting Bill Parcells' quarterback rules?

The Dallas coaches may be doing a great job with Cooper Rush, but he also may have arrived with the background he needed to succeed.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Our own Tom Ryle has just written a very interesting article on how the Cowboys have seemingly hit the jackpot with rookie quarterbacks two years in a row. We all know about the amazing success of fourth-round pick Dak Prescott. Now undrafted free agent Cooper Rush has created his own buzz in Cowboys camp and preseason. Is it the coaching? That’s Ryle’s hypothesis.

Certainly, Cooper Rush has produced this preseason. One Cool Customer penned this article on why the Cowboys won’t be able to sneak Rush onto the practice squad. You only have to look at OCC’s charts of all the quarterbacks Dallas has had since 2012 to see how Rush stands out. Other than Tony Romo, the only two quarterbacks to post quarterback ratings above 100 since then are Dak Prescott - 137.8 (not counting his perfect performance against the Rams because he didn’t have enough snaps), and Cooper Rush - 125.2. Next up is the veteran Kyle Orton at 88.8. Quite a chasm.

The question, though, is whether it’s the coaching, or whether Rush came to Dallas with all the attributes you like in a rookie quarterback.

On this point, one thesis that has received some attention over the years are the rules Bill Parcells articulated regarding what you like for a rookie quarterback. There are various iterations of the rules, but these seem to be the seven he listed.

  1. Must be a senior
  2. Must be graduating or have already received their degree
  3. Started for at least three years
  4. Start 30 or more games
  5. At least 23 collegiate wins
  6. At least 2-1 touchdown to interception ratio
  7. Completion rate of 60% or higher

Our companion site Niners Nation wrote this article evaluating last year’s crop of quarterbacks, and suggested that Connor Cook ranked highest. The article drew from a KC Joyner article that was behind ESPN’s paywall. The article said:

In going through the list, Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook tops the list, hitting on six of the categories. The only one he misses on is the completion percentage. His was 57.5 percent. Joyner points out that Cook never even completed 60 percent of his passes in a single season, and he ranked "tied for 82nd out of 89 passer-rating-qualified Power 5 quarterbacks in percentage of off-target passes during the course of the 2013-15 college campaigns (14.5 percent)."

Joyner was also cited as saying

that only ten quarterbacks in the BCS/Power 5 era (includes 1999-2015 NFL Draft) have met all seven criteria. That group includes Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Andrew Luck, Marcus Mariota, Robert Griffin III, Tim Tebow, Byron Leftwich, Chad Pennington, Philip Rivers, and Matt Leinart. Joyner wrote that Parcells said he would include Teddy Bridgewater since he finished his degree when he left early.

The problem with Joyner’s article, and thus the Niners Nation piece, is that they left out Dak Prescott. Prescott met all seven criteria, and pretty easily, with a 62.8% completion percentage, 70 TDs to 23 INTs, 37 starts his last three years and 25 wins in those seasons. He also not only graduated, but got a master’s degree.

Fast forward to this year. Here’s an article from our sister Arizona Cardinals’ site, Revenge of the Birds, evaluating this year’s crop of contenders before the draft. They provide the following chart based on only four of the Parcells' criteria.

Name Senior? 3-Year Starter? Graduate? # of Wins?
Brad Kaaya No Yes Yes 23
Chad Kelly Yes No Yes 14
CJ Beathard Yes Yes Yes 21
Davis Webb Yes Yes Yes 11
DeShaun Watson No Yes Yes 32
DeShone Kizer No Yes No 14
Jerod Evans No No ? 10
Mitch Trubisky No No No 8
Nathan Peterman Yes No Yes 16
Pat Mahomes No Yes Yes 16

Notice that no one on this chart can meet all four criteria, and therefore can’t meet the longer list of seven criteria. Guess who meets these four criteria? Cooper Rush. Here are Cooper Rush’s college stats.

Year School Conf Class Pos G Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A AY/A TD Int Rate
2013 Central Michigan MAC FR QB 11 177 312 56.7 2349 7.5 6.3 15 15 126.2
*2014 Central Michigan MAC SO QB 13 243 382 63.6 3149 8.2 8.1 27 13 149.4
*2015 Central Michigan MAC JR QB 13 324 489 66.3 3853 7.9 7.9 25 11 144.8
*2016 Central Michigan MAC SR QB 13 278 465 59.8 3540 7.6 7.1 23 16 133.2
Career Central Michigan 1022 1648 62 12891 7.8 7.4 90 55 139.1

This doesn’t tell you the wins. For that you have to look at game logs. He won 25 games over four years. The only criteria he fell short on is the 2-1 TD to INT ratio, at 90 TDs to 55 INTs, which was hurt most by his 15-15 TD/INT ratio his freshman year.

So, is it the Dallas coaching? Or do Parcells' rules still have merit in choosing between college quarterbacks coming into the pros?

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