- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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In a span of a couple of years, Matt Schaub went from leading a team to two straight division titles to getting cut this offseason by the worst NFL franchise over the past decade. He went from being a Pro Bowl passer in 2012 to setting a league record for ineptitude the following season.
Few quarterbacks have endured as rapid a downfall as Schaub did recently. He's lost a lot of games. He's lost his starting job twice. But he insists that he hasn't lost his confidence.
"You're going to have some really good times and you're going to have some tough times," Schaub said Wednesday, a day after signing a one-year deal to be the Baltimore Ravens' backup quarterback. "But how you handle those is what's going to carry you through. That mental toughness, if you want to call that, is something I feel I've always had. I've just fought through things."
The really good times for Schaub came from 2009 to 2012, when he threw over 4,000 yards three times and posted the eighth-best passer rating (94.3) over that time. He helped the Houston Texans to consecutive AFC South titles and led them to the divisional round in 2012.
The really bad times soon followed. Schaub set an NFL record by throwing a pick-six in four straight weeks in 2013. He was booed off the field and was unceremoniously benched for Case Keenum. After being traded to the Oakland Raiders last offseason, he got beat out by rookie Derek Carr for the starting job and had another touchdown returned for an interception on one of his 10 throws last season.
Last year was a difficult one for Schaub off the field as well. His wife, Laurie, had an emergency C-section to deliver the couple's child, who was several months premature. He stepped away from the Raiders for a couple of weeks to handle this family matter.
"I've had some really great times in my career. Did I have a tough year in 2013? I sure did," Schaub said. "Things snowballed, I forced things. I pressed a lot. Things got away from me as a player and us as a team. I feel like I learned from it. I grew as a person and a player from those experiences. I'm just looking for the next opportunity. I have a ton of football left in me. I know I can still play at a high level."
In his 10-minute conference call with Baltimore reporters Wednesday, Schaub was extremely persuasive in how the Ravens can be a fresh start for him. It's the first time in eight years that he knows he'll be a backup, and this can allow him to take a step back and gain some perspective. He is looking forward to playing in a system that he's familiar with and backing up a quarterback like Joe Flacco who prepares in a similar way.
The Ravens were so convinced by Schaub that they didn't let him leave his visit Tuesday without signing a contract. He had drawn interest from a handful of teams, including the Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans and New York Jets.
"We are pleased and happy that Matt decided to be a Raven," coach John Harbaugh said. "When he and I first talked, it was a lot about mutual respect and the tough games we had against each other. It was a fun conversation."
Once considered one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the league, Schaub has faced a high level of criticism the past two years. According to ESPN's Ed Werder, people involved with Schaub with the Raiders felt he lost arm strength due to an elbow injury and his confidence faltered.
Schaub said Wednesday that his elbow is fine and wasn't a factor last season in Oakland. He also said his belief in himself has not wavered.
"It's just something that you've got to force yourself to remain positive and continue to work," Schaub said. "I know what I can do as a player. I know what I'm capable of. It's just finding that right opportunity and right spot to display those things."
952dJamison Hensley and Paul Kuharsky