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Alex Smith excelling as game manager, Andy Reid says

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith recently told NFL Network's "NFL Total Access" that he has "no idea" what the term "game manager" means.

He ought to know by now.

When he was starting for the San Francisco 49ers, coach Jim Harbaugh labeled him "a great game manager."

Six games into his Chiefs career, coach Andy Reid used similar terminology to describe Smith's best attributes.

"Listen, he's taking care of the football, and when it counts, he makes the plays. I appreciate that," Reid said Thursday. "We're winning football games and he's doing a nice job of managing it, and everyone feeds off it, both sides of the ball, his ability to manage it."

Coaches don't have to state publicly what they think of a quarterback's strengths and weaknesses. The game film is a tell-all.

Smith has toiled under three of the best quarterback minds in the league in Harbaugh, Reid and 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman. They have all kept tight reins on Smith, constricting the playbook while asking him to avoid turnovers and rely heavily on the running game.

To this point in the season, Smith is fortunate to have an MVP candidate at running back and a defense that leads the NFL in sacks, completion percentage, interceptions, passes defensed and fumble recoveries.

Considering his surrounding talent and coaching staff, however, I couldn't help but wonder last month if Smith will eventually be regarded as the best game manager we have seen over the past couple of generations.

The formula has worked like a charm for Smith in the regular season. Since 2011, no quarterback has more wins.

Will it work in the playoffs, though?

The 2000 Ravens got away with Trent Dilfer's limited aerial attack because he was backed by a historically great shutdown defense. As impressive as this year's Chiefs defense has been, it's premature to put them in the same class.

The latest Around The League Podcast discussed the NFL's most impressive rookies.

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