Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 11/30/11
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- They grew up 10 miles apart, played for ACC schools, have mutual friends and have both started at quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons. Sunday would have been the first time that Matt Ryan and Matt Schaub would have played against each other in their careers. Instead, the Falcons will face Houston's third-string quarterback, T.J. Yates, a metro Atlanta native, on Sunday with Schaub out for the year with a foot injury and the Texans' No. 2 Matt Leinart also out with a broken collarbone. With one hot and one a neophyte, the quarterback position will come under a special focus on Sunday when the Falcons (7-4) visit the Texans (8-3). When the news of Schaub's being placed on season-ending injured reserve broke two weeks ago, Ryan happened to be attending a charity event at a bowling alley hosted by teammate Harry Douglas. He saw the news scrawl across the television and when he got home, Ryan sent Schaub a text. Schaub played high school football against Ryan's older brother in suburban Philadelphia and Ryan remembers seeing Schaub play at West Chester (Pa.) East High a number of times. After Ryan sent the text, he and Schaub ended up talking. Their connections extend beyond growing up in the same area. Former Falcons wide receiver Brian Finneran, who played with both Schaub and Ryan in Atlanta, traveled to the Houston area with Ryan and former Falcon and current Dallas Cowboys linebacker Keith Brooking to participate in a charity golf tournament that Schaub hosts there, benefitting a children's hospital. Schaub was Michael Vick's back-up with the Falcons before Atlanta traded Schaub to Houston for draft picks. Ryan said he was "just bummed" for Schaub. "That's what I said to him," Ryan said. "He was having a great year, their team was having a great year. 'Keep your head up. Everybody goes through that.' And his response back was, 'Yeah, it still sucks.' "I said, 'I hear ya.'" It also sucks for the Texans (8-3), who were considered by some the top team in the AFC before Schaub went down. This will be their first game with Yates, out of North Carolina and Marietta's Pope High, as the starter. With five games left, Houston holds a two-game lead over Tennessee for first in the AFC South. "It's a blow, guys, when you work so hard," Houston head coach Gary Kubiak said of losing Schaub, who had surgery on Wednesday morning to repair the broken foot. "...We've adjusted to those things and that's why we're where we're at this year." On the opposite sideline, Ryan is having some of his best success as a pro. The Falcons have won five of six and he has posted quarterback ratings of 100 or better in four of those games. Ryan said he can't fathom what it must be like for Yates to try and start without the benefit of many snaps during the season or even minicamp or offseason team activities, which the lockout wiped out. "You know what, I don't want to say arrogant saying that, but I really haven't been put in that situation and it's, I imagine, it's a tough spot to be in, but they'll have him prepared," Ryan said. Much of Ryan's recent success has come in the Falcons' no-huddle offense. Among the offense's advantages is that it prevents the defense from substituting and limits the defenses the opposition can call. Ryan said by this time in the season, much of the team's playbook is exhausted so he will have to examine his tendencies from now on. "Absolutely, in the no-huddle you have a great opportunity to kind of take a look at what people are doing," Ryan said. "I've got a laundry list of things I like to call and now it's time to up that and start doing stuff off of that." Ryan said another advantage of the no-huddle is that it helps the offense to control the tempo and can force defensive linemen to hold their stances for a prolonged period, which can tire them out. But that can cut both ways. "The ability to change tempo and hold defensive linemen in their stances for twenty, thirty seconds, those big guys get tired," Ryan said. "I know our offensive line ******* about it all the time. They don't want to be down in the stance for twenty-five, thirty seconds. With that said, we've got the ability to go at a lot of different tempos and that's one of the things we like about it." Kubiak, a former quarterback himself, said in the no-huddle Ryan "makes good decisions." "I know he's been running a lot of no-huddle stuff which tells you how the confidence they have in him handling the game at the line of scrimmage," Kubiak said. So the difference between Ryan and Yates, who is learning on the job, is stark. Kubiak said that Yates started getting more reps last week when he was the back-up to Leinart. But he gained experience in other ways. After he was drafted, Yates traveled to Houston and began working out with Schaub. Yates said that experience was invaluable. "It helped a ton," Yates said. "At that point, it was me, Matt and Dan Orlovsky at Rice (University) three or four times a week. The best thing about Schaubie was he never hesitated to stay extra or come out on an off day. He was always teaching me something the whole time we were there. In training camp, he never hesitated to help me learn something or let me pick his brain about anything he does. It has helped tremendously in me learning this offense." Kubiak praised Yates' poise, as he was thrown into the game during a two-minute drill. Yates said at that point the game was going "100 miles an hour" for him and that "there wasn't much calm going on" on his part. But the game slowed down for him. The Texans now have to hope that all of the extensive quizzing and non-rep preparation time will pay off for Yates. "He's a young man we've got a good five months invested in," Kubiak said. "He's picked things up quickly. He's being forced into a tough role right here. He's worked extremely hard for his opportunity. We need to play well around him."
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Pete Carroll refutes report that Kam Chancellor will miss rest of season

Pete Carroll not ruling out possibility Kam Chancellor injury is career-ending

Top prospect Anfernee Simons may enter NBA Draft

Kam Chancellor will miss remainder of 2017 season with neck injury

It's all on Russell Wilson as injuries decimate Legion of Boom

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Simone Biles criticism leads to apology from Gabby Douglas

Lonzo Ball explains why he skipped Lakers-Suns fight

Dale Earnhardt Jr. shares early-career regrets

LaVar Ball downplays President Trump’s role in helping son

Philip Rivers cleared to play Sunday against Bills

Simone Biles blasts Gabby Douglas over response to sexual abuse post

Sports & Politics Intersect: Is Jerry out of his league?

The 'An I, Tonya for an eye (or knee)' quiz

Should the Broncos make Tyrod Taylor their next quarterback?

15 mid-majors you need to know before you hear about them in March

NCAA college football 2017 Week 12 predictions

NFL Week 11 predictions

Follow Ben Simmons as he leads us to the NBA's unknown future

The Saints flipped the script to revive their season

The 15 best and 15 worst MLB signings of the last decade

The 'It's a major award!' quiz

Vikings' unnecessary quarterback conundrum is Mike Zimmer's doing

Time to admit the Blues are good, but can they be great?

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Sports & Politics Intersect: Is Jerry out of his league?

15 mid-majors you need to know before you hear about them in March

The 'An I, Tonya for an eye (or knee)' quiz

Should the Broncos make Tyrod Taylor their next quarterback?

The 15 best and 15 worst MLB signings of the last decade

The 'It's a major award!' quiz

Follow Ben Simmons as he leads us to the NBA's unknown future

The Saints flipped the script to revive their season

NFL Week 11 predictions

NCAA college football 2017 Week 12 predictions

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker