The Tuna Formula: How to Chose a Quarterback the Right Way!

David LeonCorrespondent IApril 21, 2010

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 01:  Head Coach Bill Parcells of the Dallas Cowboys on the sideline during the game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field October 1, 2006 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Cowboys won, 45-14.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

On October 12, 2009, the Dolphins and Jets played the Monday Night Game on ESPN. It was a good game finishing 31-27.  The focus of the color analysts were the THREE young Quarterbacks in this game:  Mark Sanchez, Chad Henne, and Pat White. Somewhere in the 3rd quarter of play, John Gruden gave us a marvelous bit of insight into Parcells's track record of success.

Parcells has a formula for selecting a quarterback in the NFL Draft.  It is unlike anything you have ever seen before.  It does not emphasize any of the points you have been trained to consider valuable.  It says nothing about height, weight or speed.  The formula does not consider arm strength, speed of release, or mechanics. The focus is quite different.

It is a simple pass/fail system.  Either you qualify for consideration, or you don't.  If you don't line up with this formula, you are a non-starter in Parcells's draft process. He won't consider you.  He really doesn't give a damn what the scouts think or say about you either.  If you qualify under the Tuna formula, Parcells will consider you.  If he likes the other things he sees, he will select you.

So what is this formula?  

  1. The candidate must be a senior.
  2. The candidate must be a college graduate, and he must hold a 4 year degree.  Candidates with some graduate work will be preferred.
  3. The candidate must have a B average or better in school.
  4. The candidate must have been a 3 year starter in college.
  5. The candidate must have made 30 starts in college.
  6. The candidate must have 23 victories in college.
  7. The candidate must impress us as a strong leadership figure
  8. The candidate must be strongly recommended by his head coach.
  9. The candidate cannot have a rap-sheet, or run-ins with the law.
So there you have it ladies and germs:  The Tuna formula for selecting a QB.
How do the four major quarterbacks in this draft size-up according to this formula? Not the way you would think.  The top two quarterbacks in the 2010 draft are automatically disqualified.  Only the bottom two quarterbacks qualify.
No joke?  No Joke.
Bradford would probably be disqualified for failing to start for 3 years, and not being a true senior.  Bradford is a Red-Shirt Junior, and a college graduate, and he has a strong GPA.  Bradford played 14 games in both 2007 & 2008.  He made 2 starts in 2009.  That does hit the magic number of 30, but would Parcells count 2 games as a 3rd full season?  I doubt it.  
There is no doubt that Bradford comes close.  He has 30 games.  He has slightly more than 23 victories. He has no blotter reports, and he is strongly recommended by his head coach.  He did come out of college early, leaving college eligibility on the table, and this is one of things Parcells is said to dislike.
Clausen doesn't come close to qualifying.  He is a true Junior.  He came out of college early, leaving eligibility on the table.  He has more than 30 starts, but not the 23 victories necessary to qualify. He did not graduate from Notre Dame.  Reportedly, his Notre Dame GPA was 3.27, but without a paper in his hand, it is all for naught.  Would he impress the Tuna as a strong leadership figure?  Doubt it.
Tebow qualifies just fine thanks.  He is a true 4 year senior.  He graduated from Florida, and as an academic All-American with a 3.72 GPA.  He has more than sufficient starts and wins.  He has all leadership and charisma qualities you want.  He has no run-ins with the blotter.  He has the highest recommends from his college coach.  
He has a couple of titles and awards too.  He also happens to have busted all the other QBs at the combine, but I digress.  This is not a part of the Tuna formula.
Colt McCoy qualifies just fine thanks.  He's a 4 year starter.  Plenty of victories. Great leadership.  Highest recommendations from his coach.  He graduated with a degree in Sports Management with a 3.0 GPA (cutting it just a bit close there, Colt). He's never had a run-in with the police blotter.
He's got some awards too!
So, having been heavily indoctrinated in the height, weight, speed, pro-passing system evaluations, I am sure you are now in a state of shock.  Before railing against the Tuna Formula, consider the following theory.  The Tuna formula emphasizes:
  1. Concrete achievement over up-side potential.
  2. Maturity over athletic ability.
  3. Leadership and citizenship over athletic ability.
  4. Intelligence and cognitive ability over athletic ability.
Implicit within all of these points is the theory that NFL Teams evaluate quarterbacks as athletes first, and that is entirely wrong.  NFL Teams need to acknowledge that they are selecting a mid-level manager when they select QBs.

You must use a method that resembles the method corporations use to select kids out of college for management tract-positions.  A quarterback evaluation should look more like the evaluation you would give to an important position coach, or a coordinator.
Parcells believes that if you don't evaluate in this manner, you stand a great chance of missing on your QB selections.
When you stop to think how well Parcells has stocked himself with QBs throughout all his many travels, and when you consider the fact that his scheme would have prevented the selection of one Ryan Leaf, you have to pay the man some respect.  

When you consider the fact that only 29.85% of all quarterbacks selected in the 1st round in the past 30 years have panned out well in the NFL, you must acknowledge that there is something wrong with the conventional method of QB evaluation.
I believe in the Tuna formula with all my heart.  That is why I am not interested in either of the top 2 QBs.  This is why I like candidates 3 and 4.  This is why I would not select a QB in the 1st round.  This is why I would select a QB in the 2nd round, just as Parcells has done the past two years in a row.