Why the Houston Texans Will Never Win a Title with Matt Schaub Under Center
Quarterbacks I'd compare him to include Carson Palmer, Jay Cutler and Alex Smith. All four of them are adequate passers who are capable of leading an offense that features a strong rushing game, but none of them have the capacity to carry their respective teams to a championship.
Andre Johnson is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, but Schaub was only able to connect with him for four touchdowns all year long in 2012. Worse still, the two of them struck out completely in the scoring department in their two playoff games this year.
In Schaub's two playoff games this January, he threw two touchdowns and two interceptions. That's not going to get it done—especially against opposing quarterbacks like Tom Brady.
He was barely able to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals at home in a game that saw Andy Dalton pass for 127 yards while failing to throw a single touchdown pass.
Truth be told, the Texans won that wild-card game in spite of Schaub, not because of him.
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The Bengals—one of the best teams in the NFL in 2012 at getting pressure on opposing passers—were stymied by Houston's offensive line all game long, coming up empty in sacks and registering just two quarterback hits.
Yet Schaub only connected with his wide receivers on eight receptions for 88 yards and zero touchdowns.
If not for the fact that Arian Foster carried the offense to the tune of 140 yards and one touchdown, Cincinnati would have won that game.
Then came the blowout in New England.
The Patriots were able to keep Foster from breaking out, holding him to 90 yards. This put the onus on Schaub to generate yards and points, and he proved he wasn't up to the task.
Schaub wasn't atrocious in that game, but he couldn't match Brady, and his two touchdown passes were completed when the game was already decided in the fourth quarter.
Worse still, his lone interception happened to be a crucial turning point in the game. The Texans were only down by 11 points midway through the third quarter, and they were in the midst of an eight-play drive that had them almost in scoring range.
Schaub never saw Rob Ninkovich, who dropped back into coverage and easily picked off an ill-advised pass to James Casey.
The 31-year-old has proven to be an above-average quarterback who does fine when his team is ahead on the scoreboard. But during the course of his nine-year career, Schaub has only managed nine fourth-quarter comebacks and 12 game-winning drives.
When you consider that Andrew Luck engineered four fourth-quarter comebacks and seven game-winning drives in his rookie season, it's clear that Schaub isn't an elite quarterback when his team is down late in games.
Jim Harbaugh was criticized by many experts for bailing on Smith after he went down with a concussion midway through this season. After all, Smith was the NFL's No. 3-rated passer at the time, and the 49ers had been winning with him behind center.
But Harbaugh understood Smith's limitations, and he went with Colin Kaepernick, who puts just as much pressure on opposing defenses as the 49ers defense puts on opposing offenses.
The Texans don't have this dynamic right now.
Given the elite talent at the quarterback position in the AFC—Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Brady, Luck and Joe Flacco (sometimes)—and given the elite defenses that show up in the playoffs, there's a good chance Houston will need to explode on offense in order to win a Super Bowl.
Schaub isn't an explosive quarterback.
He needs to be a front-runner.
He needs Foster to run well and he needs his defense to dominate. When that doesn't happen, the Texans struggle to beat quality teams.
Can Houston win a Super Bowl with Matt Schaub?
That's not a recipe for success—especially in the playoffs.
It's time for Gary Kubiak to look for his Kaepernick. It's time for the Texans to evolve on offense.
If Houston doesn't find an elite quarterback soon, all its talent on defense will be wasted and a Super Bowl will continue to elude this burgeoning franchise.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78
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