Managing the Game: The NFL's New (and Already Overused) Catchphrase

Joe M.Correspondent IINovember 10, 2008

Lately, it seems the chic phrase of choice among many an NFL announcer or analyst is that "QB X is good at managing the game." What they mean by this, of course, is this less-than-stellar quarterback likely doesn't turn the ball over and because of this, his team's chances of winning are thus, more favorable.

It wouldn't be so bad if we heard it every once in a while, but I've heard it attached to a number of quarterbacks this season alone from Washington's Jason Campbell, to Baltimore's Joe Flacco, to Buffalo's Trent Edwards, and now, most recently as today's First and 10 on ESPN-Kerry Collins.

Whenever I hear this overused phrase, the first thing that comes to mind, besides un- originality, is that (name your analyst) is just taking the easy way out and probably doesn't have anything good to say about the quarterback being discussed.

These are the same people who successfully sold us the line that player X (most likely a bench player or wily vet trying to hold on to that last contract or roster spot) is a "locker room leader" or the dreaded "team player."

It's quite obvious that every player gets this label when there is no longer (or in Campbell and Flacco's cases) nothing better to say about them since their style of play in their young careers is, well, boring.

They don't put up the weekly aerial attacks that Kurt Warner, Donovan McNabb, Tom Brady, Brett Favre, or Peyton Manning are capable of at a moments notice. When was the last time Kyle Orton had a 300-yard game besides the one a few weeks ago versus the Vikings? Chances are he's had many solid 150-200-yard games with an interception or two and more TD's than picks.


Bring me a 400 yard, three-TD performance by Drew Brees or Philip Rivers any day over this monotonous, lame act.

Let's look at the "game managers" with their teams' overall records included, from the exciting gun-slingers and those in between and see which one you'd rather have lead your team.

"game managers" AFC
Trent Edwards 5-4
Ben Roethlisberger 6-3
Joe Flacco 6-3
Kerry Collins 9-0
Jay Cutler  5-4
Tyler Thigpen 1-8

Jason Campbell 6-3
Gus Frerotte 5-4
Kyle Orton 5-4
Jeff Garcia 2-6

Teams that don't really fit into either or whose teams are so bad it doesn't matter:

Lions, (0-9) Browns, (3-6) 49ers, (2-6)  Matt Schaub (3-6) Marc Bulger (2-7) Matt Hasselbeck (2-7)

Combined records? 62-80.


The gun-slingers


Kurt Warner, (5-3) Aaron Rodgers, (4-5) Drew Brees, (4-5) Jake Delhomme, (7-2) Eli Manning, (8-1) Tony Romo*, (5-4) Donovan McNabb, (5-4) and Matt Ryan, (6-3)


Chad Pennington, (5-4) Matt Cassell, (6-3), Brett Favre, (6-3) Peyton Manning (5-4) and Phillip Rivers (4-5)

Combined records? 70-46.

Which one would you rather have?

Is there any coincidence that there is a correlation behind an exciting, wide-open offense and winning, and a lame, "if-you-can't-say-anything-nice-don't-say-anything-at-all system that we've been trained to call "managing the game?"

So that means in the, NFC eight of the 16 QBs are capable of electrifying the crowd at a moments' notice via a shoot-out, while eight others have to work on not putting them to sleep with their "clock management."


In the AFC, five of the 16 teams share this exciting quality, while 11 more have to hope that extra doses of "Six Hour Energy" are either served at tailgating or at the stadium.

Some will be quick to point out that it is often the system in which the QB plays that makes them "boring" or not. Well, this may or may not be true. Minnesota and Philly both play in West Coast type offenses, yet McNabb has a gun for an arm and uses it, while Gus Frerotte plays a more "conservative" style of play. (I put "conservative" in quotes since it's very ineffective since six of his INTs have been returned for touchdowns this year alone.)

But I guess it doesn't matter, as long as you are 5-4 and tied for first, as the Vikings currently are. If talent is a reason for the ability to have a more wide-open offense or not, consider the fact that both teams are 5-4, even though it's common knowledge that Philadelphia has a more abundance of talent offensively.

Which system would you rather have?

If you're still undecided, watch who wins tonight's Monday Night Football game between the no-history/fanbase to speak of Arizona Cardinals and the putrid San Francisco 49ers that we are treated to twice a year. We aren't exactly talking Aikman's Cowboys vs. Young's 49ers here.

This is a perfect indicator since Arizona is in uncharted (winning) territory, so it should be a close game statistically, but Arizona will find the end zone more. Why? Not just because of their talent, but more because they have a quarterback whose mentality is that of "throw first" ask questions later.

For as bad as Favre has been for being called a gun-slinger, the fact is, he has won almost all of his entire career.

Joe Flacco, for example? Not so much, but considering he's only a rookie, we only have to suffer through maybe 14 years of this, and with that defense, Ravens should prepare themselves for plenty of 14-10 games......

Maybe he can watch tape of fellow rookie Matt Ryan.

If that doesn't work, there's always the alternative.

He can be forever complimented on his ability to "manage the game."