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The title of this slide is also the title of an article by Sage Rosenfels from the Monday Morning Quarterback website. In this rather personal piece, Rosenfels described how one play changed his career.
Known to Texans fans as the “Rosencopter,” it was a heroic attempt by a reserve quarterback to run for a first down in a 2008 game against the Indianapolis Colts. While attempting to go airborne for the needed yardage, he collides with Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, and his fumble is returned for a touchdown.
Rosenfels coughs up the ball one more time for another defensive touchdown, and he effectively loses the game in singlehanded fashion.
The effect of this sequence of events is so devastating he never throws another pass in the NFL. Very revealing stuff, and the ultimate in buzzkill for those Texans fans who are just trying to hang on in these trying times.
Rosenfels implies it took just one signature failure on his part to undo the career of an above-average backup quarterback. If that was his threshold, and Schaub fits the same psychological profile, then it is time to stick a fork in No. 8.
The breakdown of the Texans’ offensive leader has been multiple games in the making, stretching back to the Week 6 loss in 2012 to the Green Bay Packers. That 42-14 drubbing demonstrated skills that Aaron Rodgers possessed and Schaub clearly did not.
The obvious physical aspect lacking was the ability to put the ball in tight spaces. Schaub must have understood that about himself, but it had never been so apparent before.
One play early in the game made it clear. On a 3rd-and-15, Rodgers is flushed out of the pocket to his right. He is running at a fair clip when just a flick of his wrist pitches a rope to Randall Cobb just inside the sideline as Johnathan Joseph is closing in. The pass is 16 yards, just enough for the first down.
It was a throw that very few quarterbacks have ever been able to make. One of them was John Elway, a player Gary Kubiak in quite familiar with. Kubiak was Elway’s quarterback coach as his career was winding down and at the same time was winning back-to-back Super Bowls.
Schaub has never been blessed with that kind of velocity, but has been able to get the ball where he needed to. His completion percentage is ranked seventh all-time, and his interception percentage is still top-20 even after the disastrous recent mistakes.
There was much at stake in 2012. The Texans had to build on their first AFC South title, even if that meant sacrifices had to be made.
Whether that was the intention or not, it was evident in the play calls. They would ride Arian Foster as long as that would work. By Week 12 against the Tennessee Titans, he gained just 38 yards in a 24-10 win that required six turnovers by the Titans to gain that slim margin of victory.
Going into the Monday night game against the New England Patriots, if Foster and the running game could not gain any more traction, Schaub would have to be the difference.
Then the Texans fell behind 21-0 early in the second quarter, and their quarterback became their only hope. He had done it in the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions games, but now he was facing Tom Brady instead of Matt Stafford and Chad Henne.
And instead of trying to counter Rodgers’ laser-like precision, Schaub had to contend with Brady’s mastery of the hurry-up offense that relied on timing passes in the short zones.
Again, this simply was not part of the Texans passing game. Play-action was their key to throwing the ball. When they fell behind 28-0 in the third quarter, Schaub had to throw without any deception coming from a potential running play.
Whatever courage the Texans had to take the occasional deep strike was just about gone by the end of last season. After the New England loss, they attempted just 12 passes of 20 yards or more, completing four for one touchdown.
Even though the Bulls on Parade throttled the Cincinnati Bengals offense in their playoff win, not one pass over 20 yards was even tried. Pro Football Reference provides the epilogue to the dwindling pass attack.
The adjusted net yards per passing attempt for Schaub in 2012 was 6.64, over a yard less than his 7.73 from 2011 and the lowest since his rookie year. That is like a .300 hitter batting .250 for the season.
If Rosenfels felt secure enough to disclose what a quarterback feels in defeat, it’s hard to imagine a coach doing the same. He would let his game plan do the talking.