Fooch's Note: Excellent write-up on a topic that has been at the heart of many discussions in recent weeks. Thanks Grant.
In the run-up to the 49ers game vs. the New York Giants, much was made about whether Alex Smith is or is not an "elite" quarterback, partially because players, coaches, and media-types have all noticed that Alex has not been asked to do a lot, and partially because Eli himself has raised the question of what elite quarterback play means in today's NFL. Eli has wanted to claim that he belongs in the same category as Brady, Peyton, Brees and Aaron Rodgers. Most have argued that Alex is not elite because he's a different type of QB--he's a game manager.
What this whole debate has missed is the fact that the fundamental distinction is not between elite QBs and game managers; it's between Artist QBs and Workmanlike QBs. QBs of either type can become elite, depending on how they are used in a system, and how they perform under pressure.Artist QBs tend to throw more wow throws both because they work with a wider palate of colors (throw options), and because such throws are demanded by the offensive systems they play in. Workmanlike QBs tend to throw throws with lower degrees of difficulty due to arm strength or accuracy limitations; they throw shorter distances and against coverages that motion or play action have made more clearly defined for the quarterback. This is the product of what Greg Cosell (a legendary NFL Films guru and tape-watching fiend) calls the "management and manipulation of the quarterback."
This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.