Bill Parcells on the 11 Quarterback Commandments

Bill Parcells has long been recognized as a football rehabilitation expert of sorts, bringing the Giants, Patriots, Jets, and then Cowboys back to playoff respectability, including winning two Super Bowls during his time as the Giants head coach. It’s not surprising then, that he picked up a few grains of knowledge along the way.


After leaving the Cowboys, Parcells did what every coach with an adversarial relationship with the media does upon retirement: he got a plush job as an analyst for ESPN. In one of his more memorable segments, Parcells outlined 11 things he told his quarterbacks to focus on, or what he calls his “Quarterback Commandments.”

Check out the list with a paraphrased list of what he has to say.

(You can see the video after the jump).

  • Ignore outside opinions on football matters – Ignore other opinions. Press or TV, agents or advisors, family or wives, friends or relatives, fans or hangers on – ignore them on matters of football, they don’t know what’s happening here.
  • Have fun, but don’t be the clown – Clowns and leaders don’t mix. Clowns can’t run a huddle.
  • Throw with your legs – A quarterback throws with his legs more than his arm. Squat and run. Fat QBs can’t avoid the rush.


  • Know your job cold – This is not a game without errors. Keep yours to a minimum. Study.
  • Know your players – Who’s fast? Who can catch? Who needs encouragement? Be precise. Know your opponent.
  • Be the same guy every day – In conditioning. Preparing to lead. Studying your plan. A coach can’t prepare you for every eventuality. Prepare yourself and remember, impulse decisions usually equal mistakes.
  • Throwing it away is ok – Throwing the ball away is a good play – sacks, interceptions and fumbles are bad plays. Protect against those.

New England Patriots at Washington Redskins 08/28/09

  • Manage the Game – Learn to manage the game: personnel, play call, motions, ball handling, proper reads, accurate throws, play fakes. Clock. Clock. Clock. Don’t you ever lose track of the clock.
  • Get your team to the end zone – Passing stats and TD passes are not how you’re going to be judged. Your job is to get your team in the end zone and that is how you will be judged


  • Keep cool in chaos – Don’t panic. When all around you is in chaos, you must be the hand that steers the ship. If you have a panic button so will everyone else. Our ship can’t have a panic button.
  • No celebrity Quarterbacks – Don’t be a celebrity QB, we don’t need any of those. We need battlefield commanders that are willing to fight it out, every day, every week and every season and lead their team to win after win after win.


Want more from Life After Football including free playbooks, exclusive content, and more?

Sign up below and get access to all kinds of great coaching materials. It’s completely free and always will be.

Leave a Reply