Is Matt Schaub the Long-Term Answer for the Houston Texans?
In the 11 years of the Houston Texans franchise, they have had some rough patches. It took eight seasons to break .500 and 10 seasons before they made the playoffs. 2012 was a mixed year for the Texans as they had their best season in terms of record and the playoffs, but even after a playoff win over the Cincinnati Bengals, there are definite questions about quarterback Matt Schaub and if he is really the quarterback that can get this team over the hump.
Schaub was signed to a contract extension at the beginning of the 2012 season to the tune of four years and $62 million, with $25 million of it guaranteed. At the time, an extension like this to a 31-year old quarterback with practically no resume was a little puzzling. It puts Schaub in a Texans uniform through 35, and likely ending his career in Houston, assuming he plays it out.
But after a 12-4 season and a playoff win and a big fat new contract, why are there still questions about if Schaub is the guy to get the Texans to the next level? Before we answer that, we have to think a little about what led to such a down season for Schaub and the Texans offense. And from a statistical standpoint the offense was worse without a doubt. But the answer to that question is more complex than simply Schaub.
The Texans offensive line play was down this season over previous seasons. After letting tackle Eric Winston go via free agency, the unit struggled to protect Schaub. What started off as hits turned into sacks by mid-season and with that, his ability to be effective dwindled. Along those same lines, I was a little surprised to see just how much Schaub targeted the tight ends in this offense and other than wide receiver Andre Johnson, how little the wide receivers were targeted by comparison. This mix up of the offensive scheme and struggles by the offensive line both played a significant role in the offensive decline for the Texans.
But having said all that, with Schaub in an ironclad contract for the next four years, and quarterback TJ Yates behind him on the depth chart, are the Texans set? I tend not to be as pessimistic about Schaub as most. He was working with a very average group of receivers beyond Johnson, so I am hopeful that with some consistency from the offensive line and an addition or development at the wide receiver position, the efficiency of this offensive will continue to improve.
A team that has a running back as good as Arian Foster should be better on offense, and I think they can be with Schaub under center. But that’s not to say the Texans couldn’t use a draft pick as early as this year to draft a player he can groom to be his eventual replacement. In fact, quite the contrary. The Texans should give serious consideration to a quarterback in the middle of the 2013 NFL draft, if for no other reason than depth, but as the future if Schaub cannot turn things around on offense.