Shooting the Bull: What's wrong with Texans?
Matt Schaub needs to get better. He knows it. His teammates know it. His coaches know it. Fans know it.
Through three games, the Texans’ quarterback has thrown four interceptions (two were returned for touchdowns) and has a passer rating of 87.3, good for 18th in the league, just ahead of Terrelle Pryor and E.J. Manuel and just behind Sam Bradford.
“Yeah, just making mistakes with the ball,” Schaub said on Wednesday. “I gotta be better as a quarterback for this team and put ourselves in better situations.”
“It’s a focal point. He’s got to get better,” offensive coordinator Rick Dennison said. “He’s got to be very sound with the ball. That’s a thing that we keep pressing.”
Schaub found ways to help his team win the first two games of the season in comeback fashion, but hasn’t played at the level the Texans need him to three games into the 2013 season. His biggest problem has been turning the ball over.
So what has led to his early interceptions?
“I don’t know,” Dennison answered. “We keep working on it. He’s made bad decisions so that’s about as far as I can tell you. He made a bad decision with the ball and he’s learning from them. You can’t make those bad decisions.”
Schaub said the sense of urgency at practice on Wednesday was “incredible” and the team is focused on moving toward the next game against a very good Seattle team and a fantastic secondary.
“You can’t dwell on things that have happened,” Schaub said. “You can’t change the past. You go to look to the next play to be better and put yourself and the team in better position. And that’s where my focus is, to be better for my team this week. They depend on me and need me to be that and that’s what I’m going to be.”
Through three games, Schaub is on pace to throw just over 21 interceptions this season, which would be a new career high. He has four interceptions in three games this season but it was his ability to not turn the ball over last year that made him special in the first half of the season.
Schaub didn’t throw his fourth interception until the sixth game of the year last season and had just four interceptions after the first eight games. He finished last year with 12 and has never had more than 15 in a season.
From 2009-2012, Schaub threw 45 interceptions, which is the fourth-lowest total in that span in the NFL among quarterbacks with at least 1,900 attempts. By comparison, Eli Manning threw 70 interceptions and Drew Brees threw 66 to top the list from 2009-12.
“We just keep telling him. We'll ask him why he made that decision and why that's wrong. He made the wrong decision based on what he sees in coverage,” Dennison said. “I can’t go into it any further than that. He made the wrong decision. He understands why after watching the film and he’ll make the corrections.”
Part of the reason Schaub has been careless with the football might be because his offensive line hasn’t been able to give him enough time to make smart decisions. Duane Brown missed the last game with injury, which meant Ryan Harris and Derek Newton were the starting offensive tackles. As a whole, the offensive line, which sent three to the Pro Bowl last season, hasn’t played well enough.
“I think as a pocket passer, you have to be comfortable making your decisions and being able to stand up and make throws you want to make,” Brown said. “Matt has a great arm and great decision-making ability but if he’s not comfortable, it’s hard to operate. We have to make sure that he’s back there standing tall, able to do what he does best.”
But Schaub hasn’t blamed the offensive line and he won’t. He hasn’t blamed anyone else either and he won’t. Schaub takes ownership of his mistakes. He takes ownership when the offense isn’t performing up to its potential. That's the job of the quarterback, he said.
And the criticism follows the poor play. And there's plenty of criticism. Schaub might be the most criticized athlete in Houston. Some of it he deserves; some of it he doesn’t. But it never looks like it bothers him too much.
“I just think he’s the type of person that doesn’t allow what’s outside to get to him,” left guard Wade Smith said. “He looks at the guys around him as the guys he’s accountable to him first and foremost. That’s the most important thing to him. So with that type of attitude, the outside stuff is just outside stuff. It doesn’t matter. What matters is what goes on with the guys in this locker room and we have full confidence in him and that’s something he draws strength from.”