When Ricky Stanzi plays his final football game for the Iowa Hawkeyes — next January? — he will have been a three-year starter and winner of 20-something games. He’ll also leave the University of Iowa as a senior quarterback and, probably, with a degree.
But what about the pick sixes? Is his arm strong enough? Decision making?
Yes, those are all valid questions, but there is one NFL exec who’ll look past all that and focus on the following:
1) He must be a senior, because you need time and maturity to develop into a good professional quarterback.
2) He must be a graduate, because you want someone who takes his responsibilities seriously.
3) He must be a three-year starter, because you need to make sure his success wasn’t ephemeral and that he has lived as “the guy” for some period of time.
4) He must have at least 23 wins, because the big passing numbers must come in the context of winning games.
That exec is Bill Parcells, the NFL coaching legend and current executive vice president-football operations for the Miami Dlolphins.
During a Monday night game between the Dolphins and Jets last fall, Parcells “rules for drafting a QB” were dissected by the announcers. Here’s a link, here’s a link and here’s another link, Smartfootball.com, where astute reader Eric found this thought and brought it to my attention.
Is this not Stanzi?
1) He’ll be a senior. And at Iowa, he took two years and some maturing before he was ready to see the field.
2) I believe Stanzi is on track to graduate. His listed major is interdepartmental studies with a business track. I think he’s headed toward something in finance, a field in which his dad, Joe, works.
3) Stanzi will be a three-year starter.
4) Stanzi could end up with . . . 28 wins? No matter where the 2010 Hawkeyes end up, Stanzi will have more than 23 wins.
Plus, there’s the recent comments Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano made about former Hawkeye linebacker A.J. Edds.
“He plays fast. More importantly when you watch A.J. on film, you see a pretty good fundamental player,” Sparano said. “The people at Iowa have done a great job of coaching them. He’s a good fundamental player out in space. . . . Well coached, plays long and I think those are good qualities to have when you are out in coverage.”
Two references to how well coached Stanzi is.
Arm strength and decision making are the debate with Stanzi.
I have no idea on arm strength. I do know that Iowa’s offense threw the ball 72 more times in 2009 than ’08 (392-320) and ran 61 fewer times (454 to 515 in ‘08). Stanzi’s longest completion in ‘08, his first season as starter, was 59 yards. Last year, he had long completions of 92, 66 and 54 (in the Orange Bowl to tight end Tony Moeaki).
Some of you count Indiana against Stanzi. Understandable. He threw five interceptions. But here’s what makes Stanzi a Parcells’ draft candidate: After a third quarter in which Stanzi was 4 of 11 for 48 yards with the four picks, he changed directions, had a 17 mph wind to his back and went 3-for-3 for 177 yards and two TDs.
Here’s an excerpt from a the game story I wrote last fall:
“It’s like Rick’s setting people up,” wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos said. “It’s incredible. The way he’s able to stay calm and keep his composure, I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Yeah, not outside of Hannibal Lecter and “Silence of the Lambs.”
“No, he’s not crazy. I don’t think he’s crazy,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He is mentally tough. He is definitely mentally tough. You talk about pushing it to the limit.”
He’s mentally something.
Stanzi always seems to find solace or comfort or strength or whatever somewhere inside. When he does something wrong, he knows what went wrong. By the time he’s back on the sideline, he’s done with it, as insane as that sounds. He doesn’t get frustrated with himself, as crazy as that sounds.
“I know what the play was, I know what the coverage was and I know how I threw it,” said Stanzi, who finished 13 of 26 for 337 yards, five interceptions and two TDs. “No one (else) knows that. I’m not frustrated with anything. I would’ve made those same throws, because those are the right reads.”
Stanzi didn’t break. He trusted what he saw even on the picks. He didn’t waver. That’s as Parcells as it gets.
The only thing Parcells might not like, the wrist bands.