After another game in Foxboro, which pretty much had the same outcome, the Houston Texans are headed home in the second round of the playoffs for the second consecutive year. I’ve said time and time again that if you don’t get at least one step further than the year prior, the season was a disappointment.
I realize it’s rough to call a team that was 11-1 just under a couple of months ago a disappointment, but judging from the sports callers on local Houston radio, plenty of others are willing to hand out that label as well. You would think that losing to an all time great like Tom Brady would make things a little more acceptable; except when you’re getting embarrassed on national television for the third time this season and looking like your team totally doesn’t belong.
There is plenty of blame to go around, as a defense that allows the same team to drop forty plus on them again, in pretty much the exact same way deserves a lot of that. However, the guy that gets too much credit when you win and too much blame if you lose is the quarterback. Matt Schaub is hearing all about that theory this morning.
Schaub has been in the cross hairs with Texans fans for a couple of months now. Not surprisingly, when the team was winning, not much was said about him. But when he began to struggle, and struggle he has, the team stopped winning and started getting smashed by opposing defenses. To put all of this teams recent struggles on Schaub is quite unfair. However, to absolve him from the lion’s share of the blame is quite ridiculous as well.
Naturally, the common theme out of the Houston fan base is that it is time to move on from Matt Schaub. Seeing teams go young with their quarterback’s to great success has this sentiment ringing louder than it ever has. Schaub is now 32 years old and he has peaked as a quarterback. He’s not going to get faster and his arm isn’t going to get stronger. At this point in his career; he is who he is.
The only problem with this solution is that Houston just committed to the guy with a four year, $62 million extension last September. The best part about that deal? Almost $30 million of it is guaranteed. So if Houston decided to cut him, they’d be looking at about $14 million in dead money because of the $17.5 million signing bonus that has went unallocated. He’s due a $7.25 million salary this year that is fully guaranteed. In short; this team is stuck with him.
Trying to figure out what went wrong with Schaub is the biggest problem. The guy in the first three quarters of the season looks completely different than the guy that has been playing in December and January. He doesn’t throw the ball deep at all anymore and he flat out looks scared in the pocket. He was never the guy with a big arm, but he wasn’t scared to throw it deep and let Andre Johnson make the play. Now, if he throws longer than eight yards, it comes as a surprise.
I feel the same about Matt Schaub now as I ever did; he’s a serviceable quarterback who thrives under perfect situations. If the running game is working well and he gets adequate protection in the pocket, he can pick any defense apart and spread the ball around. But if those things aren’t working, he doesn’t work.
Matt Schaub is a system guy who plays very well when the system is working. If the system is broken, as it has seemed since the first New England game, then he’s going to look like a fool out on the field. He isn’t that guy who can put a team on his back and carry them there. It isn’t easy to hear, but it’s true.
Herein lies my biggest problem with this situation; there is no one even close to better on this current roster. T.J. Yates was brought in to be a project and nothing more. He was never intended to be the heir apparent at quarterback in Houston. And this current regime has shown great reluctance to draft a quarterback early to groom to be that guy.
With a weak quarterback draft coming up in three months, it is hard to imagine they take that guy who could take the torch from Schaub within the next two seasons. And all of the people calling to trade for Alex Smith or Matt Flynn, you really need to realize just how silly you sound. To put it simply; the Texans hands are tied with Matt Schaub.
He’s here at least one more season and more than likely for two. The question remains if the final quarter of the season was a fluke or if it was the beginning of the end for his career as a starting quarterback in this league.