When Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub led the offense onto the field Saturday night, it was his first time under center at Reliant Stadium since week 9 of the 2011 season. Schaub would see his season end the following week in Tampa when former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth landed on his foot following a quarterback sneak. After leading the Texans to a 7-3 record and 27.3 points per game, Schaub had surgery for the Lis Franc injury to his foot and was placed on IR. He was in the midst of a season in which he passed for 2,479 yards, 15 TDs, 6 INTs and a passer rating of 96.8. Schaub was relegated to a spectator as the Texans would go on to win the AFC South and make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. After rehabbing and being held out of OTAs and minicamp this offseason, Schaub was cleared to return prior to training camp by Dr. Robert Anderson, nearly 8 months after he performed the surgery.
In the Texans’ first preseason game at Carolina, Schaub got his feet wet (no pun intended) by playing 3 series in the 26-13 victory. On Saturday night vs. the San Francisco 49ers, he and the starting offense played the entire first half and the quarterback looked like his old self in the Texans’ 20-9 win. Schaub completed 11 of 14 passes for 128 yards and a 9 yard touchdown pass to WR Lestar Jean in a 2 minute offense right before halftime. He looked comfortable in the pocket, got rid of the ball quickly, and responded well after taking a few hits from an aggressive and very good 49ers defense. Showing no lingering effects from his injury, Schaub’s best play of the game cam on a play-action pass, where he rolled right and heaved the ball across his body to the left to WR Andre Johnson for a 43-yard gain.
That play alone was a beautiful sight to see for Texans fans, as Schaub showed the ability to roll out and move around with no problems. Assuming he stays healthy, Schaub and the Texans should be poised for a big season in 2012. In his 5 seasons as the Texans starting quarterback, Schaub has played in all 16 games twice. He posted huge numbers during those two seasons. In 2009, he threw for 4,770 yds, 29 TDs, 15 INTs and a passer rating of 98.6 and capped that season by winning the Pro Bowl MVP. In 2010, Schaub finished with 4,370 yds, 24 TDs, 12 INTs and a rating of 92.0.
Schaub may not match those numbers this season, as the Texans are now one of the top rushing teams in the NFL behind the one-two punch of Arian Foster and Ben Tate. However, if he makes it through the regular season healthy he should put up numbers good enough to earn the Texans a return trip to the playoffs and a foray into postseason play that he missed out on last season. Being the preseason that scenario is a long way off from now, but if Saturday night is any indication, Schaub is back and ready to lead the Texans to the promised land.