Part IV in an exhaustive four-part series on Battle Red Blog detailing Matt Schaub's time with the Houston Texans.
Here is the conclusion to Matt Weston's four-part series detailing Matt Schaub's time with the Houston Texans. The post below is written in full as it was meant to be read. If you missed any of the previous installments the links below will guide your way. If you want to skip to the final part of the series, simply scroll down to the "2013" section.
Part I: 2007-2008
Part II: 2009-2010
Part III: 2011-2012
Part IV: 2013-End
Writer's Note: This will all make sense. Just stick with me.
My feet dangled below me. They swayed like a wind chime exploding into the rail-doom, doom, doom-that I roosted upon. Once upon a time, the rail was red. Now it had soured into the ugliest Crayola color known to man, the dreaded red orange, thanks to the plethora of butts and kicks that preceded me. I glanced down at my hand. To the left of it, curse words varied from three to twelve words and genitals were chiseled into the set of conjoined metal bars by every tool imaginable: paper clips, knives (butter and pocket), scissors, and keys.
I lifted my head up from the work done by the archaic sculptors and gazed into the fog nested above the ground. The weather, lugubrious, perfect for a stroll through a cemetery and nothing else. It was as if a cotton candy machine the size of the Frank Erwin Center whirled too quickly and exploded, covering the world in its non-dyed excrement. The wind flowed in from the north with a right hook; when it made contact, it exploded with a flurry of tiny knives that left my face red and splotchy. I yanked the two chewed strings of my Old Navy hoodie and morphed into a scuba diver. Then I pulled my flip phone out of my pocket and pressed the L-shaped button on the right. The square screen illuminated with the digits 4:30 in the foreground of a picture of a beach ball and blanket. Back to the pocket it went. Like an escaped convict, my hands found refuge in the pockets protected by stomach. I waited.
Then, out of nothing, a battered blue Chevy Silverado emerged from the fog. It pulled into a drop-off that resembled the arc of a three-point line. The man inside waved at me. My backpack slid onto my shoulder. I dragged me feet over the sidewalk until they reached the asphalt. In one motion, I tossed the Jansport product into the bed and opened the car door to finally escape the tiny knives.
"How's it going Matthew?" the mouth protected by a goatee exclaimed.
"Oh, I'm doing fine," I replied amidst chattered teeth.
I moved the vents, splayed in directions to ensure heat for both parties, to point directly at me. My right hand turned the fan nob to crank the heat like a four-seamer unleashed from Francisco Cordero. The clock read 5:30.
"How was work?"
"Well first off, I'm sorry I was late to get you. Your mother needed me too.......What about you, how was school?"
"Eh, school was not too bad, it's school. We read Rebecca in English and my other classes were boring. Today was leg day and mat drills in football. I'm just ready to eat and crash."
'Here," his right hand emblazoned with a gold chevron, peaked out from a white-button up collard shirt and nudged a box towards me. "I was able to take a few of these from work."
Inside the box were oodles of Otis Spunkmeyer cookies, Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter, and the greatest cookie known to man, Oatmeal Raisin. The wrapper crinkled in my hand. Amongst my shuffle, I spotted two empty car seats in the rear-view mirror.
"Are we picking up the turds?"
"Yes, we have to stop by and get the kids. Your mother had to run some other errands."
"Uggggghhhhhh!"An avalanche sighed from my mouth.
I pulled my hoodie off and laid it on my lap. The lever to the right of my seat was in my right hand. With a pull, the seat flew back like a mobile futon. I began to tear into the crinkled wrapper.
The balding-tur-shaved headed man with a goatee and glasses turned the stereo nob to the right. Immediately we were were berated by the apocalyptic drones of political talk radio. He quickly clicked the "1".
"You are listening to Don Harris and Walter Pasacrita on Ticket 760, and we have some breaking news after the break," crooned Don Harris from the speakers.
The truck stopped at one of the many red lights as we slogged through a freeway turned into a parking en route to the north side of town.
With my eyes shut, I wondered aloud," I wonder what the Cowboys screwed up this time?".
My words were met with a hearty giggle that was muffled by a Body Solutions commercial emitted from the speaker.
"Cause every girl's crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man."
Tst, tst, bwaw-bapa-du-du-du.
"Okay. we are back and this is Don Harris. The big news today is the David Carr experience is over," I ripped the lever up, and leaned forward. "And the Houston Texans have found their newest starting quarterback. After a 6-10 season, the Texans and Gary Kubiak have seen all they needed to with David Carr and have decided to part ways with the franchise's first draft pick. The Texans will release the former overall #1 pick and sent a 2007 and 2008 second round pick to the Atlanta Falcons. Additionally, they will flip-flop first round picks with the Falcons in the upcoming draft."
The word, "Huh" discharged from my throat like a death rattle.
David kept his eyes on the road and asked, "What do you think?" over the professional Cowboys fans banter.
"I don't know. I mean, I barely know who this guy is. I think I saw him play once when Vick was hurt, but that's it. It sucks, but Carr had to go and Houston needed to move on. Its a shame we never had an offensive line for him. Really, I'm just so sick of losing and rebuilding. It's been five years, and they still have not had a winning season, and now we have to start all over again at quarterback. Hopefully, for the first time there will be some continuity and some type of success."
Gary Kubiak spent the summer of 2007 teaching Matt Schaub the offense and getting him acclimated with the weapons surrounding him, most notably Andre Johnson. On September 9th, once preseason was over, the Texans unleashed him against the Kansas City Chiefs, who started Damon Huard at quarterback (1). On first and ten in the second quarter with 6:13 remaining, Schaub threw his first touchdown pass as a Texan. The backfield was lined in the "I" with Andre Johnson split wide to the right against single coverage. Matt received the snap, ducked his shoulder to fake the hand-off to Ron Dayne, and stepped back to pass. Andre Johnson beat his man easily on a deep post to the center of the field. Schaub heaved a glorious pass that traveled forty yards in the air. The ball fell from the heavens directly into Johnson's hands. The safety dove at his heels and missed. Consequently, Johnson turned up field with no one in front of him other than a blaze of screaming white t-shirts. Johnson galloped twenty yards before walking into the end zone as Schaub ran down the field on fire, with one finger raised, as he celebrated his first of what would be 44 touchdowns thrown by him to Andre Johnson.
The Texans won this game 23-20, and then beat the Panthers the following week. Against Carolina, Houston fell behind 14-0 early in the first half and then proceeded to score 34 unanswered points. This total was good for the most points scored in franchise history up to that point. Schaub was 20-28 for 227 yards and heaved two touchdowns, both of which were thrown to Andre Johnson, who had this to say after the game:
"Before, we would go down by 14 points early, the games were over. Now we go down by 14 points, everyone comes on the sideline and says, 'Hey, we're fine."
It was the first time the 24-56 Texans started off the season 2-0. Disappointingly, they preceded this franchise first by going 2-5 until the bye week. During this losing streak, the first of many injuries to plague Matt Schaub occurred against the Titans in Week Seven. In the first quarter, he missed time because of leg and ankle injuries. In the second quarter, he was knocked out of the game thanks to the most hated hit in football, the malicious helmet-to-helmet hit. Schaub was on the receiving end of one unleashed by Albert Haynesworth, who needed to open his mouth once the game concluded:
"Well, heck, I mean we probably would have won this game 35-7 if he stayed in. It was good to knock him out I guess, but he's going to come back and I don't think there'll be any kind of quarterback controversy because they pay that guy a lot of money."
The seeds of controversy planted by Albert Haynesworth would slowly blossom in the following weeks once Sage Rosenfels filled in for the injured Schaub. Matt missed time against Tennessee (Week 7), San Diego (Week 8), and Tennessee again (Week 11), and played zero snaps against the Raiders in Week 10 due to a concussion he sustained in the San Diego game. He also missed the rest of the season (Weeks 12-16) because of a dislocated shoulder. Rosenfels threw for 209 yards, 3 touchdowns and completed 27 of his 36 passes in a 28-14 win over the Bucs. After the game, Rosenfels had this to say:
"As a backup, you know sooner or later you're going to get a chance and you just have to make the most of it. I personally feel I am good enough to start in this league. But that's not something I can control."
In Schaub's absence, Rosenfels went 4-1; the Texans beat the Raiders, Buccaneers, Broncos, and Jaguars en route to an 8-8 season. The Texans managed to salvage their season and finished above 7-9 for the first time in franchise history, despite the fact Schaub missed either time or full games in eight of their games. The Texans wound up third in the AFC South with that 8-8 record. Rosenfels was not terrific; he looked like an average player, regardless of what insidious super-villain Albert Haynesworth claimed. Sage was exactly what a team looks for in a backup quarterback--adequate, nothing more, nothing less. Houston's quarterbacks posted the following numbers in 2007:
In 2007, we only saw the potential of Schaubiak due to frustrating, meddling injuries that forced Sage Rosenfels into the starting lineup. We did get a glimpse of Schaub's ability as a quarterback. He had a reasonably strong arm that could push the ball down field and into tight pockets, some mobility outside the pocket, a knack for making smart decisions, deceptive play-action fakes, the beginning of a strong bond with Andre Johnson, and a general goofiness. Regardless of the missed games, both he and Rosenfels provided decent play at quarterback for the first time in franchise history; their passing DVOA jumped from -20.3% (31st) to 14% (14th).
This and the changing culture were the keys to the Texans' 2007 season. Kubiak began turning a team who wallowed in a culture of self loathing and pity into a confident team who thought they could and should win. Andre Johnson believed it. Dunta Robinson believed it and even jabbered," There's no quit in us," following a 30-24 loss to Indy where the Texans turned a 27-10 deficit into something interesting down the stretch.
Schaub's best game: 23-10 Week 11 Win over New Orleans: 21-33, 63.6%, 293 YDs, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, 112.3 Rating.
NFL Game Rewind Must See: Unavailable
Despite the franchise's first 8-8 season, they were a consensus pick to finish 4th in the AFC South again because the three other members of the division went to the playoffs and finished with a cumulative record of 34-14 the year before. This was fair since the Texans ended up with another 8-8 record after beginning the season 0-4. Three of the losses came with Schaub starting, including an overtime loss to Jacksonville where he completed 29 of his 40 passes for 307 yards and 3 TDs. The fourth lost is one of the most famous losses in Texans history. It can be described in one word: Rosencopter.
Sage Rosenfels started in place for an ill Matt Schaub, and he maneuvered the Texans to a 27-10 lead with 8:22 remaining. On the Colts' next possession Peyton Manning drove the offense 81 yards down the field in 4:14 and capped the drive off when Manning hit Tom Santi on 4th and 6 to make the game 27-17. The Texans than recovered the onside kick. On third down and eight, Rosenfels ran six yards and leaped in the air for the first. His body ping-ponged against the lashes of Raheem Brock and Marlin Jackson like a pinball against the bumpers. The football escaped from his hands. Gary Brackett hopped on the ball and took it 68 yards to make it 27-24. Once the Texans got the ball back, Rosenfels fumbled again after being strip-sacked by Robert Mathis. Peyton threw another touchdown and the Colts took a 31-27 lead they would hold on to. The crowd was flabbergasted. A win over the Colts could have led to Kubiak doubting Schaub's ability and possibly could have resulted in the Texans starting Sage Rosenfels, like Albert Haynesworth recommended, in an attempt to save the season. Instead, Sage fumbled it away in one of many traumatic experiences involving #18. Schaub's job was safe. He would start the following week against Miami.
The turnovers bled from the Indy game into the contest against Miami. After Houston's last last three possessions resulted in turnovers against Indy, their first two against Miami ended with Matt Schaub interceptions. After the first, Texans' fans booed. After the second, Texans fans cheered, "WE WANT SAGE!". Texans fans are not the best evaluators of quarterback talent. Matt responded by throwing for 344 yards and won the game with a buzzer -beating QB draw (3).
"That's part of being a quarterback," coach Gary Kubiak said. "You get your butt booed in the first quarter and you come back and win the game in the fourth."
The rest of the season was much like 2007. Schaub would play fairly well when he was healthy, but he missed the second half against the Vikings with a knee injury that kept him from playing in Weeks 9-13. Rosenfels would be adequate as a fill-in but nothing more than a back-up.
When Schaub came back, he took the field with a vengeance. The Texans proceeded to win three of their next four games, the most miraculous coming in Wisconsin against the Green Bay Packers (4). In his first game back from a knee injury and playing in 3 degree arctic weather, Schaub threw for 408 yards on 42 attempts. He led the Texans down the field with 1:49 left to put Kris Brown in field goal range. Unlike the following season, Brown scorched the game-winning field goal to make the game 24-21. During this four game stretch, Schaub threw for 1,281 yards, 5 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, a completion percentage of 63.4%, and a quarterback rating of 95.2. This four game stretch finally made Schaub seem like he could be the franchise quarterback he was acquired to be.
It was a season filled with mediocrity, up and down swings (5) and the creation of my favorite fantasy football team name of all time, "8-8 For Life." That name carried me through high school and the first two years of college. Despite this, it was the first time the Texans' offense exhibited long term stretches of competency with Schaub starting at quarterback. We saw more of the patented play-action game and zone run scheme used by Steve Slaton (and later, Arian Foster). The team improved, but they needed the defense too as well. The Texans also needed Schaub to play a full season for something greater than 8-8 to occur.
Schaub's stats for the 2008 season:
Schaub's best game: a 24-21 Week 14 win over Green Bay: 28/42 (66.67%) 414 yards, 2 TDs 1 INT, 104.7 Rating
NFL Game Rewind Must See: Unavailable
After another 8-8 season and ending 2007 with a 5-1 record, Houston was ready for something more than just mediocrity. When you're crappy, you pray for mediocrity (unless you love tanking). When you're mediocre, you pray for the playoffs. When you're a playoff team, you pray for a championship. When you're crappy again, you pray for a good pick and the chance rekindle the that feeling of success again. In 2009, the Texans were in the mediocre-to-playoffs transition, and the jump to the playoffs would have been possible if not for some horrendous luck that could only happen to the newest team in the NFL.
To compete for a Wild Card spot, Houston needed Matt Schaub to play a full season and end every question concerning his durability. If he missed any time, Rex Grossman would be the next one in line since Sage Rosenfels was traded to the Vikings (and then got Favre'd). Oh yeah, and that 29th ranked defense that posted a DVOA of 13.5% had to improve as well. The first issue would have to be answered as the season dragged on since Schaub missed nine starts and was knocked out of three games the previous two years. The Texans attempted to address the second predicament by signing Antonio Smith and Shaun Cody and through the draft. In the 2009 NFL Draft, Houston took Brian Cushing (1st round), Connor Barwin (2nd round), Glover Quin (4th), Brice McCain (6th), and Troy Nolan (7th). If the defense could finally play at an adequate level and Schaub played an entire season, Houston had a chance to turn mediocrity into answers.
To start the 2009 season, Schaub played one of the worst games of his career, and the defense, filled with new personnel, looked the same as the old in a game that will be always remembered for "Pay Me Rick" fiasco (thanks, Dunta Robinson). Against the Jets, Schaub completed 18 of 33 passes for 166 yards and one interception. The defense gave up 462 yards, 6.3 yards per play, and made rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez--making his first start in the NFL, on the road--look like a legitimately good NFL QB. Sanchez threw for 272 yards (18-31) and one touchdown in his first career start. As usual, Gary Kubiak took the blame for the abomination.
""The offensive football team gave us no chance and that starts with me. There's nobody that can feel anything good coming out of this football game."
Also as usual, the fans booed the team off the field when their optimism was met with disappointment.
The following week, Houston would head to Tennessee. Matt Schaub would play the best game of his career up to this point. Houston went down 21-7 early, thanks to two Chris Johnson touchdowns, one of which Texans fans will surely remember. On the first, Johnson turned a draw play on 3rd and 19 yard into a 57 yard touchdown as he ran right past Eugene Wilson into the end zone. The second, which is more likely to be remembered with horror by Texans fans, had him lined up as a wide receiver on the left sideline. Nobody on the defense accounted for him. Once the ball was snapped, Kerry Collins threw a lazy two yard pass. Johnson caught the pass and ran 59 yards into the end zone with nobody in front of him (6). The Frank Bush era, everyone!
Nevertheless, as Andre Johnson said in 2007, when the Texans fell behind, they still believed they could come back. This would be one of those occasions. Schaub would lead them back by throwing three touchdowns; two were to Andre Johnson, one of which was maybe the greatest catch of his career,
The other was to Jacoby Jones. Houston would finally take the lead and kick a 23-yard field goal with 2:55 to give them a game-winning 34-31 lead. In this game, Schaub displayed it all. He showed the ability to throw the ball deep down the field, the ability to fit the ball into tight windows in the slot, and continued to answer back what Chris Johnson did on the other sideline. He finished the game with a stat line of: 25-39, 357 yards, and 4 touchdowns.
The Texans then followed the first two weeks with a wild patch of the season and lost a few games in "IS THIS REAL LIFE?!?" ways.
Week 3 vs. Jacksonville: Even though Maurice Jones-Drew gained 119 yards and crossed the goal line three times (8), the Texans had a chance to tie the game. Chris Brown would begin a streak of poor crunch time performances by players whose name is a variation of "Chris Brown". Hey, I was at this game, and it still is the only Texans game I've ever been to. We occupied a section of space in the south end zone. In the fourth quarter, the Texans were down 31-24 and drove into the red zone. On 2nd and goal, with the ball placed on Jacksonville's two, Houston handed the ball to their goal line back. He ran forward, and from our perspective it looked like the fell into the end zone to take the lead. We all erupted in a bombardment of Hoorahs!, Hoorays!, Yeahs!, Go Texans! and Woooos! only to see a Jaguars player stand up with the football. Our high-fiving hands went from outstretched and smothered by other palms to on top of our heads. After reviewing the pla, Jacksonville did in fact recover the fumble in the end zone, and Houston would lose by the same score. In that loss, Schaub threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns.
Week 5 vs. Arizona: Houston had three three-and-outs in the first half and fell behind 21-0 early. However, in the second half, Schaub and Andre Johnson brought them back. Chris Brown punched in a one yard touchdown run and Schaub threw two touchdown passes to 'Dre to tie the game, including one of the toughest runs by a receiver in recent memory. With the game tied at 21 in the fourth quarter, Houston was driving and Schaub was in the middle of ten straight completions. On pass attempt number eleven with 2:30 left, Schaub stared down Kevin Walter in the flat, released the football and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie stepped in front of the pass. DRC then took it 49 yards for a touchdown to give Arizona a 28-21 lead.
The Texans were still not done yet. They proceeded to move the ball back into Arizona's red zone thanks to a 63 yard kickoff return by Andre Davis. The Texans needed six yards in a minute and twenty-seven seconds to tie the game. First down: five yard pass to Steve Slaton. Second down: 0 yard run up the middle by Chris Brown. Third down: Incomplete pass to Joel Dreessen. Fourth Down: 0 yard run up the middle by Chris Brown. Cardinals win. Did I mention I hate Chris Brown?
Week 9 vs. IND: After going 4-2 since Week 2 and having a 5-3 record, the Texans headed to Indy to play the 7-0 Colts. The Texans were behind 20-17 and had the ball in Colts' territory. Matt Schaub then threw an interception to Clint Sessions. Indianapolis played keepaway with 2:13 left in an attempt to put the game away, but the Texans' defense forced a three and out and handed the ball back to the offense. If we don't include a spike to stop the clock, Schuab went 8/8 for 59 yards on the final drive and walked off the field for Kris Brown to kick a 42 yard field goal. He missed left, of course, and Houston would fall to 4-3. The Texans then lost their next three games by one score, one of which was...
Week 11 vs.Tennessee: Kris Brown missed a 49 yard field goal to send the game into overtime, where Houston lost 20-17. This led to a five year drought of a variation of the name "Chris" given to any child with the last name Brown (9) who was born in Houston.
After 12 games, Matt Schuab had thrown for 3,449 yards, completed 68% of his passes (295-434), had 22 touchdowns, and had 12 interceptions. Despite Schaub's performance, the Texans ran for 100 yards only four times, averaged 3.5 yards a carry, and 580 of their 781 offensive plays came when they were losing. The defense was allowing quarterbacks to complete 61.7% of their passes, and opposing running backs averaged 4.59 yards a carry. The Texans had found the final way to lose: Let your quarterback down by everyone else pooping the bed.
Then, out of nowhere, the Texans turned in four straight wins after words like "reeling" and "falling" were used to describe Houston. They beat (10) Seattle 34-7 (5-8), St. Louis 16-3 (1-13), Miami 27-20 (7-8) before facing New England in the final week of the season. During this three game stretc,h Schaub threw for 1,018 yards, completed 70% of his passes, was sacked once and even threw for 336 yards in the first half against Seattle. For the first time in franchise history, the Texans were beginning to win because of their quarterback play, not in spite of it. Houston also received a boost in the run game by starting future All-Pro Arian Foster over Ryan Moats and Steve Slaton beginning in Week 16 against Miami.
In Week 17, for the first time in franchise history, the Texans were in the middle of a scenario where they could somehow, someway, weasel their way into the playoffs if things broke right. The playoffs were a tangible thing, not some hallucination brought on by ingesting cobra venom or walking for 24 hours straight. Houston could actually get in. Entering Week 17 there were four AFC teams, who were 8-7 (including Houston). The Texans needed help to get in. First they had to beat the Patriots, who were 10-5 and trying to reach the Super Bowl again after finishing 18-1 the year before. Tom Brady, and every starter except five, played for the first two quarters before the second team came in. Before Brian Hoyer arrived in the second quarter, the Patrioits were up 10-7. The Texans kicked two field goals to tie the game 13-13 before the end of the half. New England answered by putting their starters back in (including Brady) and as a result, they jumped back out to a 27-13 lead with 14:04 remaining, thanks to a Schaub pick-six and a Fred Taylor touchdown. Houston then took the lead back thanks to a Jacoby Jones eight yard touchdown catch and two Arian Foster trips beyond the goal line. Bill put Brian Hoyer back in for the two minute warning, and Hoyer failed to put the Texans away. For the first time in franchise history, Houston finished the season with a winning record.
But that wasn't enough to make the playoffs. In addition to a Texans win, two teams out of the group of 8-7 teams (Baltimore, Denver, and New York Jets) had to lose. Denver was hosting 3-12 Kansas City, Baltimore played 5-11 Oakland, and the Jets traveled to 10-5 Cincinnati. After the Houston game ended, everyone invested in the Texans did their playoff dance and watched, waited, and hoped two of these three teams would lose. Denver and Baltimore played the late afternoon game; at around 6:30 central time Denver had lost to Kansas City 44-24, and Baltimore had won 21-13. All attention turned to Sunday Night Football, where Houston's playoff hopes were completely in the hands of the Bengals as they played the 8-7 Jets. If the Bengals won, the Texans were in the playoffs. If the Bengals lost, the Jets made the playoffs and the Texans would continue to wait for postseason glory.
The Jets and Bengals game was broadcast on NBC, and right away Cincinnati came out flat. The Bengals had already clinched a playoff berth, and they laid down. Cincinnati rested their starters in the third quarter, and let the Jets roll all over them. They lost to the Jets 37-0 in a game where Carson Palmer finished with a stat line of 1-11 for 0 yards and 1 interception. That is not fictitious. Consequently, Houston would stay home and the Bengals would play the Jets again in the Wild Card round. In a fitting result, the Bengals lost to the Jets again by a score of 34-24. Since then, the Sky Line Chili Guzzlers have been cursed (10).
Since 2009, when Cincinnati rested their starters against the Jets, Houston clinched their first AFC South title against the Bengals, beat them in the wild card round in 2011, and beat them again in the wild card round in 2012. Additionally, the Bengals still have yet to escape the first round of the playoffs. For the record, Bob McNair was none to happy after the Bengals rested their starters and laid down a wicked curse upon the Bengals (7).
Even though Houston did not make the playoffs it was their first season above .500 and the best season in Schaub's life. He carried the offense down the field consistently, despite him working with a rushing attack that sported a DVOA of -14.1%. At age 28, Schaub, posted the highest DVOA of his career of 29.3% (6th), the highest DYAR of his career of 1,624 (6th), threw for the most yards (4,770) and touchdowns (29) in his career, earned his first Pro Bowl appearance. He even won a Pro Bowl MVP.
This all came before Arian Foster revolutionized Houston's run game. Schaub led comebacks, answered opponents' drives with those constructed of his own, and most importantly, he finally played the first full season of his entire career. He threw every pass for the Texans except for 10. One was a halfback pass Chris Brown threw for an interception (gah!) and the other nine came from the cannon arm of Rex Grossman, who briefly filled in for Schaub when he suffered a separated shoulder against the Jags. Houston barely missed playing the Wild Card round in Paul Brown Stadium. It was an incredible season, and Houston finally reaped the benefits of the trade they made for him.
Schaub's stats for the 2009 season:
Schaub's Best Game: Week Six vs. Cincinnati: 28-40 (70%) 392 Yards, 4 Touchdowns, 1 Interception, 124.2 Rating.
NFL Game Rewind Game to Watch: Tie: Week Two vs. Tennessee and Week 17 vs. New England.
Houston began the season playing the evil empire, the Indianapolis Colts. A horde of white shirts buzzed and blazed on Liberty White Day. The crowd came to Reliant Stadium in Week One with one thing on their mind--playoffs. Mario Williams battered Peyton Manning like flounder on a Friday in March, but Arian Foster stole the show. After starting the last two games of 2009 at running back, Foster became the man to lead the zone scheme coming out of camp in 2010, and the world was his stage in the season opener. He took over in the second half, running for 191 yards, at an average of 8.3 yards a carry, and three touchdowns. The best sequence came in the 4th quarter. The Texans led 20-10 with 10:38 remaining and Foster, in order, broke runs of 42, 13, 11, and 25 yards for a touchdown. This demoralizing set of runs exemplified Houston's physical run attack and made Indy's defense look like they wanted to do anything else in the world other than play football.
The following week, things fell back to earth. Schaub was forced to throw every down and had to put the team on his back in a game that symbolized the entire 2010 season. Kubiak's crew fell behind by 17 points against the Redskins, who were quarterbacked by Donovan McNabb. Schaub finished the game completing 19 of his 29 passes for 287 yards and one touchdown, including a gorgeous 33 yard Hail Mary to Andre Johnson on fourth down. Foster, on the other hand, had only 7 carries for 23 yards after the team went down early. In overtime, Neil Rackers knocked down a game-winning field goal. Schaub's final numbers in the nation's capital? 38-52, 497 yards, three touhcdowns, and one interception. Oh, and in case you are not impressed yet, since 1963 only fifteen players had ever thrown for more than 495 yards in a game.
After starting the season 2-0, Houston went .500 and entered their bye week with a 4-2 record. They then lost to Indy 30-17 on Monday Night Football and pulled off a three week streak of losses in games only the Texans could lose.
Week 9 vs. San Diego: In Houston, Andre Johnson catches a pass that would have placed Houston into San Diego's red zone, but the ball slams against his knee, jumps into the air and is intercepted by Paul Oliver at the nine yard line. 2010 sucks.
Week 10 vs. Jacksonville: It's tied 24-24. Everyone is getting prepared for overtime. However, one play remains before that happens. A ball must be tossed into the end zone. David Garrard throws the ball fifty yards into the rectangle at the end of the field. Glover Quin does what he has been told to do at every level of his playing career, swat the ball down. He does. The ball falls into Mike Thomas's arms. The Texans lose. The Q-Tip is born. 2010 sucks.
Week 11 vs. New York Jets: The Texans are down 23-7 entering the fourth quarter in New Jersey. They respond by scoring 20 unanswered points, giving them a 27-23 lead. With 55 seconds left Mark Sanchez drives the Jets 72 yards down the field and throws a game-winning touchdown to Santonio Holmes with 0:16 left on the clock. 2010 sucks.
After the hilarious set of losses, Houston proceeded to lose four of their last six to finish the season 6-10. Houston ran 589 plays while playing from behind, compared to 440 with a lead or tied.
W/ Lead or Tied
The Texans were constantly down, and Matt Schuab was forced to either throw to keep them in the game or throw to bring them back. Their run-pass ratio was not what Gary Kubiak envisioned coming into 2010 with Arian Foster rather than Steve Slaton or Ryan Moats in the backfield. As a result, Schaub put up the following numbers.
Despite the gaudy counting numbers we see, Schaub was not as efficient as he was in 2009. This is because of the context the offense operated under. Thanks, pass defense (11). THEY WERE THE WORST.
Adj Sack Rate
300 Yd Passers
400 Yd Passers
100 Yd Recievers
Like virtually all of Houston's previous seasons, 2010 was as difficult as a spoonful of cinnamon to swallow. In 2009, the Texans could not run or stop the run. In 2010, they could not stop opponents from raining footballs into the arms of their receivers. Same old Texans. When the leaking sink is fixed, the refrigerator stops running. When the refrigerator stops running, the dog gets hit by a car. When the dog gets back from the hospital, the sink begins to leak again.
After two years of mediocrity, and an oh-so close playoff miss, a step backwards meant that something had to change. The, as BFD puts it, "Loyal to a Fault" Gary Kubiak barely saved his job, finally cut ways with Frank Bush, and the front office took a stand to fix the worst pass defense of all time. In the offseason, Rick Smith went all in and signed Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning, drafted J.J, Watt and brought Captain Wade Phillips on to lead the defense. All of that will be discussed in the next installment.
Statistically, Schaub had another stellar season, but the Texans won only six games because the pass defense resembled a 1995 NBA jersey made by Starter.
Best Matt Schaub game: Week 2 vs. Washington: 38-52, 497 YDs, 3 TDs, 1 INT, Rating 114.0.
NFL Game Rewind Must See: Week 1 34-24 win vs. Indianapolis (12).
As in 2010, the Texans started the season playing the Colts in Week One. Other than that, everything else was different. At the time, nobody knew if Peyton Manning would play in 2011; thanks to the power of hindsight, we all know how this story played out. Peyton would miss the entire season after having neck surgery, and Colts fans would have to endure one, and only one, terribly miserable season. Then in 2012, Peyton left to play for the Broncos while the Colts replaced their former franchise quarterback with another one in Andrew Luck. Once and for all, Manning's time scowling from the top of of the AFC South throne had come to an end. The witch's broom had been snapped in half, and his days of toils and troubles in the AFC South would cease to exist. The Texans and the rest of the division pranced merrily around in a stupor filled with ecstasy. Never again would they see him terrorizing their defenses in a divisional battle. Peyton's numbers against the AFC South, for your education:
After years of injuries, terrible luck, one aspect of the game not being up to par while the rest of the team suffered, and the Manning dictatorship, things finally seemed to fall into place for the hapless turned mediocre Texans.
Houston manhandled the Colts 34-7, who for the first time in thirteen years saw someone other than #18 starting at quarterback. It also put an end to "Colts backup quarterback" being one of the cushiest jobs in America.
Weeks later, Houston headed to Tennessee with a 3-3 record after losing two in a row to Oakland and Baltimore. Everyone had seen this narrative before: "Promising Texans can't close games and are too soft to contend". They answered these qualms and erupted against the Titans in a game they won 41-7. Ben Tate and Arian Foster both ran for one hundred yards, they outgained Tennessee 518-148, accrued a time of possession of 37:38, locked Chris Johnson down to 18 yards, and Jake Locker threw his first NFL completion when he subbed in for Matt Hasselbeck at the end of the game. It was a total dismantling. After years of almosts, the Texans finally put together a full team effort and turned their season around. In the next two weeks, Houston trampled Jacksonville and Cleveland by an average margin of 14 points, heading to Tampa Bay playing the best football they've ever played.
The universe, like football, is filled with infinite possibilities. It's amazing to see mundane events in the past rear their wart covered heads in the future. Entering the Tampa Bay game, the Texans had finally come together. The Matt Schaub led offense turned into a hydra of Schaub, Foster, Johnson, and Daniels, devouring defenses. It's also worth noting that during the first ten games of the season, Schaub only had two games where he threw for more than 300 yards, and the Texans lost both of them. The balanced offense Kubiak devoted four years to developing finally came together, and the defense became something more than eleven carcasses of skin wearing blue jerseys. The offense with a PH balance of 7 combined with Wade Phillips' attacking defense (not to mention new acquisitions Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning) turned the "weak and soft" Texans into one of the best teams in the NFL.
Against the Bucs, the Texans exploded at the first blow of the whistle thanks to field spanning catches and runs. On the first offensive play of the game, Jacoby Jones caught a pass down the right sideline, broke a tackle, and then spurted for an 80 yard touchdown. In the second quarter, Foster did his best Jacoby impersonation and turned a short pass in the flat into a 78 yard touchdown. The defense suffocated Josh Freeman like a plastic bag.
At the end of the first half, the goodwill and love turned into a Greek tragedy. At least in the past, bad luck happened in seasons where playoffs, not titles, could have have been possible.
The Lisfranc injury is a vile beast. Discovered by the surgeon and gynecologist Jacques Lisfranc de St. Martin in 1815 after dissecting a foot consumed by gangrene during The War of the Sixth Coalition, Lisfranc is an injury to the foot when one of the metatarsals is displaced from the Taurus. A player suffers an injury like this as a result of having his foot crushed or a sudden rotational force placed on a downward pointing foot. It's like ripping the nub off a puzzle piece that's neatly glued in place with another.
In the second quarter, with 1:31 remaining, on third down, with the ball on Houston's own goalline, the Texans ran a simple quarterback draw teams run throughout the year to buy the snapper and punter some breathing room when it's their turn to shine. The play seemed innocent, just like every other quarterback sneak. The offensive line and defensive line collided into a mash of bodies. Schaub submarined into the pile. Albert Haynesworth did too. He crushed Schaub's foot. Schaub shrieked.
Matt continued to play the rest of the game, but only threw three passes after "The Sneak". He eventually came out of the game for future Texans starting quarterback Matt Leinart, with the score 37-9. Leinart handed the ball off three times, took a knee and then the team headed back to Houston. On Tuesday, the reports came in: Matt Schaub lost for the year; needs surgery to repair a Lisfranc injury. Thanks to Albert Haynesworth, the Texans' hopes, dreams, and desires came crashing down like a bucket of bowling balls knocked down a flight of stairs. The same player who was signed in the week leading up to this game and previously claimed Sage Rosenfels was a better player than Schaub (after knocking Schaub out, mind you with a helmet to helmet hit, mind you) had this to say:
"You know me; I love to hit Schaub. It was on the goal line. He actually screamed like normal in the pile."
Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Albert Haynesworth.
After panicking in misery early in the week, the attention turned to Matt Leinart at the tail end of it. Thoughts of "could he be any good?" during the bye slowly turned into hope by Sunday. Like a meteorite with a green tail shrieking across the sky, Leinart too saw his season come to an early end against Jacksonville. On 1st and 10 with 1:45 remaining in the second quarter, Leinart fell directly on his collarbone while releasing a screen pass to Arian Foster. It was the same injury that displaced him for Kurt Warner when he was the 5th overall pick in Arizona. The mundane follies of the past just kept poking their heads out in 2011.
T.J. Yates, a rookie fifth round draft pick, was the next in line that day, and he managed the most boring game in Texans history to a 20 to 13 win. We know the rest. The Texans signed Jake Delhomme for depth purposes and Houston would clinch the AFC South. thanks to a win against the Bengals that capped off a seven game win streak. We watched as spectators, just as Matt Schaub.
In the playoffs, they devoured the Bengals again and exacted their revenge again for Cincinnati resting their starters in 2009. They lost the next week to the Ravens in the divisional round thanks in large part to T.J. Yates completing 17 of his 35 passes for 184 yards with three interceptions (two of which led to 10 Ravens points). It was a game where any type of competent quarterback play could have seen the Texans win and head to Foxboro to play the Patriots for the AFC Championship. You know, the type of quarterback play Matt Schaub could provide.
It's the greatest "what if?" in Texans history. What if the Bucs didn't sign that no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather Albert Haynesworth the week leading up to the game against Houston? What if Chris Myers was not called for holding the previous play? What if Arian Foster did not lose two yards on second down? What if they handed the ball to Arian Foster again rather than let Schaub dive into the pile? What if they ran the quarterback sneak to the other "A" gap? What if Schaub started against the Ravens in the divisional round? What if the 2011 Texans played New England in the AFC championship?
Oh, well. At least we will always have this shirt.
And the memory of this play.
Schaub's stats for his 10 games in 2011:
Yates' stats for his 8 games in 2011:
Schaub's best game: Week 7 vs. Tennessee: 18-23, 78.26%, 296 Yards, 2 Touchdowns, 147.7 Rating.
NFL Game Rewind Must See: Week 14 vs. Cincinnati or Week 10 vs. Tampa Bay (13).
For the first time, Houston was the preseason division favorite and possible Super Bowl contender, even though Matt Schaub was their biggest offseason acquisition. All reports pointed to Schaub being healthy; the cinderblock sized foot had finally shrunken down to the size of a normal, perfectly good foot. With Schaub back at the helm the Texans were a machine coming out of the gate. They moved the ball on the ground and pounded opposing front sevens into dandruff. They duped defenses into thinking run while Schaub floated passes over the top. They got out to leads early and often, which allowed the defense to unleash the hounds and attack the passer. They took teams in and churned them out and put games away at the half. After watching T.J. Yates start seven games last year, it was beautiful to watch #8 at the helm doing what he did best. Houston won five in a row to start the season. Rather than thinking playoffs, the team and fan base was thinking Super Bowl.
After five wins and an average winning margin of 15.2 points, the Texans finally lost to the Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers befuddled Wade Phillips with a spread attack, throwing for 338 yards and six touchdowns. The sky began to fall. Clouds bombarded the ground, leaving holes the size of Meteor Crater. Then everything was back in order the following week as Houston beat down the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens 43-13 and headed into the bye.
Following the loss to the Packers, Houston won six in a row. However, two exhilarating games turned everything around. Houston became the first team to win two overtime games in a week, but they came at a cost. After beating the Jags in overtime in a game filled with terrible tackling and beating the Lions in a controversial game (Justin Forsett may or may not have been down), Matt Schaub's arm died. He played as though it was 2010 and threw 103 passes in five days, which was the second most passes thrown by him in a span of two games. After that, he was never the same player. He routinely missed deep passes, lost his confidence and he, and the machine that was the Houston offense, sputtered down the stretch <a href="http://books.g