The last two seasons have wound up being determined by average quarterbacks who were desperate to prove they were better than their reputation. Both Joe Flacco and Eli Manning won the Super Bowl to temporarily silence their critics who had said they were nothing more than pillars of mediocrity. This year one of the quarterbacks looking to complete the trifecta is Houston’s Matt Schaub. Of course if he wants to receive the level of respect he feels he deserves then he will need to do a lot better as there is a chance that another disappointing end to the year could see him out on his ass.
Despite being rewarded with a lucrative deal at the beginning of last year, the Texans have an out at the end of this season that could prove too good to pass up. While Schaub has been a definitive upgrade over his predecessor David Carr, he has not quite been able to reach that special level Houston was hoping for when they traded for him. Now at age 32, in his tenth season in the league, it may be time to look towards the future as the Texans have to get younger on offense.
Seriously Schaub, get a grip
That is not to say Schaub is a bad quarterback, he has thrown for over 4000 yards in every season he has played all 16 games and formed an excellent bond with Andre Johnson, the star receiver. What has always been the biggest knock against Schaub (when he is on the field) is the fact that he was never overly spectacular. Against the big teams he always seemed to struggle and could not seem to rally his team off the canvas the way other quarterbacks have. In the playoffs last season Houston won a game in spite of Schaub failing to get the ball into the end zone and then against the Patriots a week later he failed to keep up with Tom Brady and could not put up much production until they were in desperate catch up mode.
This year Schaub has failed to set the world alight, especially in the last two weeks as Houston has dropped games to Baltimore and Seattle. Against the Ravens his completed passes were barely able to make a dent on the Ravens defense and he finished with under 200 yards passing, an unheard of amount in this iteration of the NFL. Meanwhile against the Seahawks, his offense stalled in the second half and blew a seventeen point lead.
It would not have been so bad had they not snatched defeat from the jaws of victory thanks to a stupid throw from Schaub late in the fourth quarter. With less than three minutes to play on 3rd and 4 from inside the Seattle 40, Schaub faked a handoff to Foster rolled to his right where he would hit an open receiver for an easy first down. The problem is, Seattle had left a rusher free on the backside of the play to prevent said rollout. A smart quarterback would have done basically anything else except for what Schaub decided on. Off his back foot, Schaub lofted a lame duck that barely made it back to the line of scrimmage, Richard Sherman was able to make a jump on the play and intercept the pass. He probably could have gone to the sideline, had a drink and come back to catch it in the time it was sitting in the air. He took the pass the remaining 60 yards back to the end zone for the tying score. The smart decision would have been to slide down, not make a risky throw and grind off a bit more time. It would have given the Seahawks the ball back but at least it would not have given them a free path to the end zone.
Plays like that are exactly why Houston may decide to go a different path at quarterback next season. In defence of Schaub, he is not the only quarterback to make such a bad throw but in a city desperate for a Super Bowl, he cannot make those mistakes. In the end Houston will have to decide if the devil they know is better than the one they do not. A few more simple errors and that decision may be made for them.