Every loss upsets fans and sets off a chain of second guessing and angry phone calls to local talk radio shows. Most of the time, fans put the blame on either the quarterback or the head coach. Blaming them for every loss may not be fair, but as the old saying goes, they get too much credit when they win and too much blame when they lose. Ever since the arrival of Matt Schaub, there has been a segment of the Texans fan base that hasn't thought he could get the job done. I dismissed that notion for a long time, but the truth on Schaub is too obvious to ignore any longer.
Matt Schaub is above average, a good quarterback but will never be great. I was convinced for a long time that the Texans could win with Schaub if they put a strong running game and a good defense around him, but recently it hit me, couldn't the same be said about nearly every quarterback? When Mark Sanchez was teamed up with a strong run game and a good defense, the Jets reached back to back AFC Championship games, but no one considers Sanchez to even be a serviceable quarterback at this point. If Schaub played in Arizona or Cleveland, would he have three 4,000 yard seasons and be a two-time Pro-Bowler? Has his success been due to his own talent or guys like Andre Johnson and Arian Foster lifting him up? The Texans can continue to win 11 games and advance to the second round of the playoffs, but I'm convinced they'll never win the Super Bowl with him. Schaub is an effective quarterback when he's put into a good situation with open targets, good pass protection, and not facing bad weather or a great defense, but for the Texans to get to the next level, they need a quarterback who can make plays when he faces adversity and isn't in a perfect situation.
Take a look at his stats in Texans wins vs Texans losses this regular season; pretty obvious he's not lifting up his teammates.
Wins: 65% completions, 257 ypg, 98.7 QB rating, 22 TD/7 INT
Losses: 60% completions, 229 ypg, 65.7 QB rating, 0 TD/5 INT
I'm not doubting that Schaub wants to win, but some guys have that extra level of competiveness and others just don't. Brett Favre made a lot of mistakes and threw a lot of interceptions during his career, but it was all in the name of trying to make a play and his refusal to accept a loss. Schaub doesn't have that in him. Key example of that was in the 4th quarter of the loss to New England. The Texans had a 3rd down play and Schaub was pressured quickly, but he managed to escape two defenders, giving himself time to find a receiver to pick up the first down, but instead quickly threw the ball away out of bounds. It was third down, in a playoff game they were trailing by multiple scores, he wasn't under pressure, and he throws it away? Playing it safe or conservative is one thing, but that play told me everything I needed to know about his competitive spirit.
Unfortunately, because the Texans gave him an extension before the season, their hands are somewhat tied. If they cut him, all his signing bonus money, the guaranteed dollars that get spread out over the length of the contract get accelerated into this season and I don't believe the Texans have the cap space to absorb that. They could trade him, but other teams saw his performance as well, so why would they take on his big contract? The Texans are likely stuck with Schaub for probably the next two seasons, but there are still some things that can be done. I'd like to see the Texans draft a quarterback in the 2nd or 3rd round and make it an open competition between Schaub, T.J. Yates, and the rookie during the off-season. If Schaub clearly plays better then make him the starter, but the job should no longer just be handed to him automatically. There are several interesting prospects that should be available in the middle rounds, keep an eye out for Mike Glennon of NC State, E.J. Manuel of Florida State, and Tyler Bray of Tennessee. If they're able to address offensive line and grab a pass rusher in free-agency and/or the first round, and one of those guys is available; I'd take him. Maybe they don't start this year, but at the very least they need to start thinking about Schaub's eventual replacement because he'll be 32 when the 2013 season starts and his level of play isn't going to improve.