Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 12/20/11
One of the silly phrases which entered the football vernacular over the past few years is that some quarterbacks need only to "manage the game." "Managing the game" is code for "the guy can't play but hopefully he won't completely screw things up." Coaches manage the game. Players, including the quarterback, make plays. At least they do on winning teams. Show me a team that hopes its quarterback just "manages the game" and I'll show a bad team. Or, at least, not a very good one. These are the starting quarterbacks that have participated in the conference championship games over the past five seasons: Ben Roethlisberger, Mark Sanchez, Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Donovan McNabb, Kurt Warner, Joe Flacco, Tom Brady, Phillip Rivers, Eli Manning and Rex Grossman. How many jump out as quarterbacks expected to just "manage the game?" Obviously, Grossman stands out as the player who doesn't rank with the others. The rest range from Hall of Fame caliber to excellent. They were all expected to make plays beyond managing the game and they were all a huge reason their respective team reached the conference championship. Avoiding multiple interceptions and having an idea when to call a timeout is a pretty good starting point for a quarterback but winning requires actual play-making. Winning requires the most important player on the field to be special on occasion. On good teams the quarterback is a major part of the reason the team is good. It's a quarterback league. Which brings us to the Texans. T.J. Yates will have to make plays over the next two games and in the playoffs if the Texans are to make a deep run. Again, avoiding disaster will not be enough. Yates displayed the ability to do special things on occasion in the 2 games in which he has participated but he will need to have more of those moments going forward. It has become routine to reference Trent Dilfer as a proof that a team doesn't need a special quarterback to reach the Super Bowl. Actually, Dilfer is the exception and there are exceptions all over sports. The overwhelming majority of teams that reach the Super Bowl have excellent quarterback play. These are the quarterbacks that have won the Super Bowl over the past 10 seasons: Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Brad Johnson. (Dilfer's Ravens won the Super Bowl 11 years ago). So, over the past 10 seasons, one non-elite level quarterback has managed to win a championship: Brad Johnson. Guys named Elway, Warner, Aikman and Favre won the previous five Super Bowls. And over a 15 year period, two players not ranked among the best at their best position have been able to hold the Lombardi trophy: Johnson and Dilfer. This does not mean the Texans cannot reach the big game. It simply means that Yates will have to make plays along the way, as opposed to just "managing the game."
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