Houston Quarterback Matt Schaub Is Safe for 2013
By: Kim O'Hara | Posted: January 15, 2013
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak has verbalized the inevitable: Matt Schaub isn't going anywhere. Despite his underwhelming performance under pressure, Houston's starting quarterback will be under center once again in 2013. In his end-of-season press conference, as covered by the Houston Chronicle's Ultimate Texans blog, Kubiak explained Schaub's importance to the team:
“I believe in Matt. I have no doubts about him. He’s our quarterback. The team has to get better for us to take the next step.”
Eight Texans made the Pro Bowl this season, including Schaub. The roster features elite talent in each unit; the team is so talented that many were left baffled by Houston's 1-3 slide into the playoffs, that resulted in the Texans grabbing the #3 seed as opposed to the #1 seed they'd contended for all season. Whether or not he made the Pro Bowl or if his head coach supports him in press conferences, Matt Schaub was a big reason for the team's decline.
Schaub threw 22 touchdown passes this season. Just one of those along with three of his 12 season-long interceptions and 12 of 27 sacks on the season came in the 1-3 stretch from Weeks 14 to 17; his lone touchdown pass came in the team's final regular season win in Week 15 against Indianapolis.
He failed to throw a touchdown pass to his own team in the Wild Card round against Cincinnati, and seven of the Bengals' thirteen points did come off an interception return. He threw another crucial interception against New England in Divisional play, one that hampered his ability to lead a road comeback and allowed the Patriots to increase the margin of their lead. There's been nothing impressive about Schaub's play the past six weeks. Approaching his tenth NFL season, it's reckless to assume there's still some untapped upside, that he'll suddenly become mobile in the pocket (he rushed for an eye-popping -9 yards this season) or exhibit fiery, outspoken leadership in the huddle.
The Texans have a number of elite players in place. Running back Arian Foster, defensive end J.J. Watt and linebackers Brooks Reed, Connor Barwin, Brian Cushing and Whitney Mercilus are young, some of whom have only begun to tap into their potential. Wide receiver Andre Johnson will enter his eleventh season in 2013, but he was as effective as he's ever been after a career-high 1,598-yard season. He only caught four touchdowns, but that speaks as much to Schaub's ineffectiveness in the red zone as it does Johnson's shortcomings. With a healthy, mostly young team equipped to win now, why would Houston spend another full season with Schaub at the helm?
The answer is simple and, as ProFootballTalk.com reported, involves money. Schaub will be due a guaranteed base salary of $7.25 million next season. As Mike Florio explained:
There’s the fact that moving on from Schaub would result in $14 million in dead money, thanks to the unallocated portion of his $17.5 million signing bonus. Though the hit could be reduced to $3.5 million in 2013 with a post-June 1 designation for the release, the other $10.5 million would apply to the cap in 2014.
So there you have it. The Texans are bound to Schaub for at least one more season, but it could be worse. Ask New York Jets fans. As underwhelming as Schaub appeared in crucial moments this season, not one of them resulted in the phrase "butt fumble".
Kim O'Hara is the Associate Editor of TheFootballGirl.com. She is an avid fan of sports in general, but the NFL in particular. She has also been a contributor to ESPN the Magazine. Follow her on Twitter: @KimOHaraTFG
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