AFC South Unanswered Questions: What's Wrong with Matt Schaub?

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistJanuary 17, 2013

Jan 13, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub (8) on the field against the New England Patriots during the first half of the AFC divisional round playoff game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots won 41-28. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

From time to time, I write a story I regret.

It will come as a shock to everyone, I know, but I'm not always right.

Rarely if ever have I been so embarrassed so quickly by a firm position I have as I was with my recent piece pitting Andrew Luck versus Matt Schaub.

In it, I argued that Schaub was clearly deserving to be the Pro Bowl quarterback from the AFC.

Less than a month later, Schaub has been roundly criticized as the primary reason the Texans aren't playing deep into January.

As a longtime Schaub defender, I have to admit that I was completely taken aback by how poorly he played in the final weeks of the season. His play against Indianapolis alone probably cost the Texans a top seed.

Against the Jaguars on November 18, Schaub was named Offensive Player of the Week in the AFC. From that point on, he was rarely the same player.

All this leaves me wondering: What's wrong with Matt Schaub?

Is he hurt? Does he have mechanical issues? Did teams defend the Texans differently?

Something has to account for nearly a full-yard drop in YPA and a plummeting touchdown rate. After all, how could the same guy who lit up the Broncos with a stunning array of deep balls be the same guy who wished up a duck to James Casey in Week 17 that was easily picked?

Schaub took a beating, as well as a kick to the crotch, in the Detroit game, but there's almost no discussion of any aftereffects other than random chat board speculation.

Other than some glaring missed throws, it's hard to point to anything mechanically or physically wrong with Schaub. He looked like the same quarterback, only the results were different.

There's no smoking gun. The only nameable culprit could be the lingering effects of playing two overtime games inside of five days. If Schaub had some kind of rib or arm injury that affected his ability to hit long passes, he certainly never revealed it and there's frankly no evidence for it.

Schaub's final numbers show a career low as a starter in yards per attempt. He had been up around eight for most of his tenure in Houston, but wound up at 7.4 in 2013. His completion percentage, touchdown percentage and interception percentage were all within career norms, but the passes just didn't cover as many yards.

Part of the explanation may simply be that the failure to field adequate receivers did him in. While Johnson continued his own march toward immortality, the other Houston wideouts failed miserably.

As teams schemed more and more heavily to take away Johnson, Schaub's choices were limited. Kevin Walter's pace slowed throughout the year and the offense slowly ground to a halt.

The Texans are locked in and committed to Schaub, and they may well know exactly what happened over the final two months of the year to compromise his abilities.

If they want to go back to the postseason in 2013-14, they had better have more answers for what went wrong and how to fix than I do.