Sunday, September 29, 2013
It's not time to give up on Matt Schaub
By Tania Ganguli
HOUSTON -- As Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman glided into the end zone, the quarterback who inadvertently threw him the ball lay on the grass near midfield clutching his helmet in dismay. Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub remained still on the ground until the play ended, then turned over and beat the grass with his fists, again a victim of his own mistake.
Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub reacts to throwing a fourth-quarter interception in a loss against the Seahawks on Sunday.
"This one hurts real bad," Schaub said after the game.
It was Schaub's second interception of the game, the first time in his career he has thrown two on third downs. It was also the third pick-six he's thrown in as many weeks. He faked the handoff, then stepped back with blitzing Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor inches from him. Schaub lofted the ball toward tight end Owen Daniels, and perhaps the best corner in the NFL jumped in front of Daniels, as he'd practiced all week.
"It was a keeper play and they had not been biting the keeper most of the game," center Chris Myers said. "Obviously, on that one, he had pressure right in his face."
This one followed a week of discussion from both Schaub and his coaches about decision-making and mistakes. Offensive coordinator Rick Dennison said Schaub knew the cause of his prior interceptions and he knew how to fix them.
They were different situations for sure, but all in critical moments. No matter how well the defense is playing, when your offense allows touchdowns, it is difficult to win.
For many people, Schaub's mistake erased the rest of a game in which he threw for 355 yards, completed 31 passes and had eight different players catch passes. He threw two touchdown passes, led the Texans to a 20-3 lead and appeared to be having a redemption game until his final interception.
Yes, this was bad. Yes, Schaub has played poorly for a stretch of games. But, at the risk of having my press pass burned by these guys, benching him now is not the answer.
Quarterbacks have bad games. Even some of the best quarterbacks in NFL history have had bad games. According to Elias Sports Bureau, no quarterback in the past 20 years has thrown interceptions that were returned for touchdowns in four consecutive games. The current streak is three, held by Schaub, Peyton Manning with the Colts in 2001, Ty Detmer with the Eagles in 1996 and John Elway with the Broncos in 1994.
Let's be clear here. Schaub not is Manning or Elway, but what it's important to keep a cool head when bad stretches happen. Recall, this is the same guy whose play orchestrated comeback efforts against San Diego and Tennessee. And if you say Schaub's play earlier in those games contributed to needing those comebacks, then you have to also consider that Schaub's early play against Seattle created the Texans' early lead.
Can the Texans win regularly with Schaub throwing pick sixes every game? Probably not. And it's unreasonable to expect the defense to constantly bail the offense out. But if he doesn't make those mistakes, he doesn't have to be Manning or Elway for the Texans to win.
Futher there's this point: would the Texans be better off with Case Keenum or T.J. Yates starting? I don't think they would.
While Schaub was banging his fists on the grass in frustration, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was in the midst of a five-interception game.