For a quarterback, the label "game manager" is about as damning with faint praise as it gets. Those words are reserved for the Trent Dilfers of the world. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith has had that sticker applied to him over the years, even now with the former first overall pick finding success in the NFL. St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher took exception at the notion of Smith as a mere "game manager" too.
"There was a lot of criticism of Alex, undue criticism," Fisher said on Tuesday. "You don't go to the championship game unless you've got a quarterback that can throw. He played very, very well for them. I don't like to say manage the game, he's winning games for them because they can run the football. He's making some good decisions and when you're 19-for-20 in a ball game, you're doing the right things."
Smith is 145-for-209 with 1,659 yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. His quarterback rating is a career-best 102.1 so far, and he's on pace for new highs in passing yards and touchdowns. Smith's also got a 7.9 yards per attempt mark, another career-best number.
Still, nobody is going to confuse those numbers with a Manning. Smith is being helped along by an incredible running game and receivers like Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis, guys that excel at extending plays with the ball in their hands.
It's not unlike the plan Fisher and his staff have for Sam Bradford.