Matt Leinart Will Help Houston Texans Survive Matt Schaub Injury
I'm hearing a lot of silly reactions to the Matt Schaub injury via local sports radio and Twitter this morning. I guess this is to be expected when your team in the No. 1 seed in the AFC and they just lost their Pro Bowl quarterback.
But calling for Brett Favre? David Garrard? Come on, guys. One is 137 years old and in the woods hunting somewhere right now, while the other is laid up in rehab after having a serious surgery for a herniated disk.
No, the Texans are going to wink and swim with their current backup quarterback, Matt Leinart. And I'm here to tell you why the Texans can still win with "Matty Light" at the helm.
First of all, we must examine what has made Matt Schaub so successful this year while having otherwise lower production numbers from previous years. It's really quite simple, actually. With the defense playing lights-out and the running attack excelling, all Schaub had to do was be a game manager, make short and smart throws and don't turn the ball over. People do realize he only threw the ball 15 times last week in that 37-9 smashing of the Bucs, right?
Matt Schaub isn't beating these teams with 50-yard passes and threading the needle in the red zone. And with the way the offense is built, he doesn't have to.
When comparing their physical gifts, Schaub and Leinart are really quite similar. It comes down to Schaub being a veteran in this system and knowing the offense inside and out. If Leinart has done his homework as QB2, then Houston should be okay. And here are some more reasons why.
The Offensive Line
Many people and scouts around the league think that this is the best offensive line in football and I'm inclined to agree with them. They're so good that when a running play goes for fewer than six to eight yards, we feel disappointed. Then, there is the pass protection.
In Arizona, Leinart had no running game and an even worse offensive line. All that talk about what Kurt Warner did with pretty much the same team? Well, comparing Leinart to a Hall of Fame quarterback is an unfair measuring stick, in my opinion. In short, Matt never had this kind of talent in front of him with the Cardinals.
Sure, Arizona had Edgerrin James when he was a rookie. What people neglect to mention was that he was at the end of his career by the time he got to the desert. There was virtually no scheme intact for the run and James was a non-factor. All Leinart could do was throw it up to Larry Fitzgerald and hope for the best. And as great as Fitz is, it has been evidenced by Kevin Kolb this year that this method isn't enough.
With a dominant line protecting him and enabling Arian Foster and Ben Tate to do what they do, all Leinart has to do is get the ball to his tight end or receivers once in a while when the defense tries to throw nine in the box to stop the run. The numbers are on his side and with that running back tandem, he should be okay.
Ten wins, and maybe even nine should be enough to win the AFC South. The Texans already have seven and their remaining schedule has only three teams with winning records left to face. Two of those are only a game over the .500 mark. With that level of competition and some horrible offenses coming up, you'd have to imagine this team can go 3-3 at the worst the rest of the way. This would be good enough to give them a 10-6 record and an AFC South crown.
Andre Johnson is Returning
The injured Andre Johnson told local media today that he feels great and there is no way he isn't playing on the 27th at Jacksonville. That's a heck of a crutch for any quarterback to have. This is why I don't believe that teams are going to throw nine guys in the box to stop Tate and Foster.
No team in their right minds are going to leave Andre Johnson in single coverage. I don't care who is throwing him the ball.
An Elite Defense
Regardless of if you think the Texans' defensive rank this season has been padded by poor competition or not, they're still a legitimate top-five defense. With games against rookie or underperforming quarterbacks in the final six contests, there is no reason to see Matt Leinart needing to get into a shootout to win.
In the end, even a 2-4 record the rest of the way might be enough to get the Texans into the playoffs. So before anyone starts tearing up the playoff tickets they've printed in their mind, you need to calm down, take a deep breath and see how Matt Leinart does in this offense. Personally, I think they've got two wins in them even if they run the ball on every single play. But since we know that isn't going to happen, I could see at least four more wins.
As for the playoffs...I'm taking a wait-and-see approach. But we've got a month-and-a-half before that happens. So let's see how Matty Light does on the field before we start making asinine predictions of either direction for this ballclub.
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