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Tuesday, September 24, 2013
On Texans' Matt Schaub and throwing deep

By Tania Ganguli

Texans fans are making their angst about quarterback Matt Schaub known, some more publicly than others, but many of those who didn't take to cups-in-fences art to make their point have focused on one aspect of the Texans' passing game: deep balls.

Schaub
Schaub
If we consider a deep ball to be a pass that traveled more than 20 yards in the air, Schaub's total of seven is one of the lowest in the NFL. Only five quarterbacks who have played in all three games have thrown fewer such passes: Kansas City's Alex Smith, Dallas' Tony Romo, Miami's Ryan Tannehill, Atlanta's Matt Ryan and Detroit's Matthew Stafford. All of those quarterbacks -- except for Ryan -- have winning records and two of them are undefeated. Ryan only attempted passes that long in two games. Same goes for New England's Tom Brady and Indianapolis' Andrew Luck, who also has seven.

If we reduce our qualification to passes that go longer than 15 yards before caught, Schaub's number of attempts rank in the top third of the quarterbacks who have played this season. He's tied with Titans quarterback Jake Locker with 22 passes thrown that traveled longer than 15 yards. He and Locker are very near each other in passer rating on those passes: Schaub's is 62.9 and Locker's is 62.3.

The quarterbacks who have thrown the most passes that traveled longer than 15 yards in the air are Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger (33 attempts, 0-3 record), Philadelphia's Michael Vick (31 attempts, 1-2 record), New Orleans' Drew Brees (30 attempts, 3-0 record) and Arizona's Carson Palmer (29 attempts, 1-2 record). Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and Jets quarterback Geno Smith are next, tied with 27 attempts and both of their teams are 2-1.

More interesting: Only one of the quarterbacks who are among the top five in passing attempts that travel longer than 15 yards in the air leads a passing offense that ranks in the top five of the NFL.

A more important factor than attempting those passes is how successful you are with the ones you do attempt. The Denver Broncos have the highest average passing yards per game in the NFL with 374.7. Their quarterback, Peyton Manning, has thrown fewer passes that traveled longer than 15 yards in the air than Schaub. Manning has thrown 21 to Schaub's 22. But Manning has thrown four touchdowns on such passes, and has a passer rating of 130.4 and a QBR of 99.3 on them.