The term "elite quarterback" in itself is cause for heated debate.
Some maintain that only a select few quarterbacks deserve the "elite" label, while others argue that their team's quarterback is "elite" because of individual statistics or a favorable win-loss record.
This very debate caused for a stir last offseason, when Giants QB Eli Manning tabbed himself as an elite quarterback. Michael Kay of ESPN New York 1050 mentioned Tom Brady's name when referring to the league's elite quarterbacks, and he asked Manning if he considered himself on that same level.
Manning didn't hesitate, "Yeah, I think I am. I consider myself in that class."
On Manning's arm, the Giants went on to win Super Bowl XLVI despite their 9-7 regular season record. Now, nobody is questioning whether or not Eli Manning is elite, regardless of the criteria.
In my opinion, the "elite" label should apply to anyone in the top tier of his respective position. Numerous quarterbacks have the potential and the skill set to be considered top-shelf players, but what separates the elite from the good is consistency, and nothing silences the critics more than a Super Bowl ring.
Texans QB Matt Schaub certainly has the ability to lead Houston to a Super Bowl.
Schaub missed the last eight games of the Houston's 2011 season, and the Texans, who had looked like the most complete team in the AFC, lost in the divisional round of the playoffs to the Baltimore Ravens.
Although rookie QB T.J. Yates was able to lead the Texans to their first playoff win in team history over Cincinnati, Schaub has no reason to be looking over his shoulder. He is Houston's starting quarterback, and Yates is the backup.
Matt Schaub flourished the last time he was healthy and in the lineup for all 16 games, despite the running game being less than its current level of dominance, and with a defense that ranked much closer to the bottom than the top of the NFL.
In terms of scoring defense, Houston improved from being ranked 29th in 2010 to being ranked fourth in 2011, allowing only 17.4 points per game to opposing offenses. Combine one of the league's top defenses with the NFL's 10th-ranked offense from a season ago, and Houston appears to be a serious contender heading into 2012.
If the Texans are able to put it all together on both sides of the ball, win their division and make a run deep into the playoffs, Schaub will be the newest member of the "Is this guy great?" debate.