Analysis: Matt Schaub's "Winner" Label, The 16 "Biggest" Games Of The Schaub Era
"First off, I think he's a winner. That's all he's done since he came here. I believe in him and our team believes in him." -- Gary Kubiak, Wednesday on Matt Schaub
Photo by Marco Torres Is Matt Schaub a winner?
I suppose if you say something enough times, not only do you hope people will believe it, but you begin to believe it yourself.
Let's put aside the veracity of Kubiak's statement, because we all know how silly the "all he does is win, win, win, no matter what" label on Matt Schaub is. He's 46-37, and won one playoff game.
So, please, Gary. Stop with the hyperbole.
That said, the Matt Schaub Conundrum (proper noun status!) continues to grow more and more frustrating and compelling with every passing week, mainly because the gulf between Gary Kubiak's words and Gary Kubiak's behavior continues to widen.
On conference calls and in press conferences, Kubiak says Matt Schaub is a "winner," which would imply a) that he is one of, if not the key reason for the Texans' success (at whatever times they're experiencing success), and b) that Schaub experiences said success at a rate well above that of his peers.
On the field, Matt Schaub appears to be given very little freedom by his head coach, either because his coach doesn't trust him or because going off script is messy. Even more damning, the most recent piece of evidence this past Sunday -- when the Texans, playing without left tackle Duane Brown, dialed back a game plan that was so conservative that it just announced it will be running for the GOP nomination in the 2016 election.
Seriously, the Texans longest completion against Baltimore was 18 yards and I don't know that they threw a ball further than that all day, complete or incomplete. What team with a "paid like a franchise QB" quarterback completely facelifts their game plan and let's the defense dictate the game to them because they lose their left tackle?
The Texans. That's the entire list. Forget about the cream of the crop, even the teams with quarterbacks on the same perceived tier as Schaub (Romo, Cutler, Rivers, Stafford) would still let their guys go do what they do well. They wouldn't put their entire offense in a box.
In Baltimore, the Texans still had one of the top five receiver tandems in the league, the best running back tandem in the league, one of the top eight to ten tight end tandems in the league. And what did they get?
Nine points. That's it.
To me, if the "winner" label were an actual medal or trophy that a quarterback could attain after accomplishing certain milestones, there are certain wins (frankly many wins) that an NFL quarterback garners through the normal course of doing business that would count minimally, if at all, toward "winner" status.
"Winner" is reserved for guys who get it done frequently in "big" games. The question for Matt Schaub is "How many games has he really played in that could be labeled a 'big game'?"
Until they finally broke through and won the division in 2011, that was always the hilarious undercurrent every football season on the radio -- seemingly every year there were one or two games (often very early in the season, because the Texans would be functionally eliminated by November every year) that were the "BIGGEST GAME IN TEXANS HISTORY!"
We can look back on it now and laugh, the way that other cities probably were laughing at us if they streamed any of our radio shows on the internet. "Week 3...the Colts....it DOESN'T get any bigger than THIS!!"
But for sake of argument, let's treat those regular season games as if they were "big" games, as if they did carry some sort of additional perceptual weight or game pressure that, say, a Week 9 against JaMarcus Russell may not have. And let's add the games in from 2011 and 2012 where the Texans were playing with something on the front burner of the "at stake" stovetop.
And now let's look at the games that fit that category in which Matt Schaub was the starting quarterback. Conveniently enough, I found sixteen games (so it's like one full regular season's worth!) that fit the mold of what I'd call "big games" as graded on the sliding scale for a team that's played in four playoff games in its history.
Here we go...