By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
All criticism of Schaub gets liquefied and blended into some sort of vague , spatial critique of everyone on the team that sounds something like this: "Yeah, Matt needs to get better, but so does everybody else. We all need to get better. Matt knows that, and so everybody else knows that. We need to get better as coaches, too, and I know that, and Matt knows that, and everybody else knows that."
Also, most franchises would hold off on extending the contract of a quarterback coming off of a delicate Lisfranc injury, especially a quarterback with exactly zero playoff wins to his credit. The Texans, however, are not one of those teams.
Apparently enamored with the mere speculation that Schaub was the missing piece to a Super Bowl in 2011 (as opposed to, y'know, actually getting to a Super Bowl), the Texans signed him to a four-year extension with $29 million in guaranteed money just before the start of the 2012 season.
Because why make your perennially .500 quarterback who's never played in the postseason play with the healthy fear of a "contract" year? Well, because fear is scary. Fear is uncomfortable. Matt's got to be comfortable.
From a personnel standpoint, the Texans have assembled everything just the way Matt likes it. Armed with a top five wide receiver (Andre Johnson), a top five running back (Arian Foster), a top eight tight end (Owen Daniels), protected by the best left tackle in the game (Duane Brown) and with a shiny new weapon in rookie DeAndre Hopkins, you can make an argument that no quarterback in the league has better pieces around him than Matt Schaub.
And I haven't even mentioned a defense that includes the best defensive player on the planet (J.J. Watt), a healthy Brian Cushing and a number of quality veterans.
This is a good football team.
But life in the NFL is dictated largely by quarterback play. If the NFL season were a college course, then the play of the quarterback is like the final exam – it counts for at least 50 percent of a team's grade.
Up until now, Matt Schaub has had the Texans in what George Costanza would call the "meaty part of the curve – not showing off, not falling behind." His averageness has led the Texans to a couple above-average seasons. The question becomes "How long until above average isn't good enough anymore?"
And if the plan doesn't come together in 2013, and the team stays stuck in neutral, Texans fans deserve to know when change will come.
Everybody loves to win, but how much does Bob McNair hate to lose?
The Pendergast Method
Ok, time to dive into the game-by-game analysis using a little thing I like to call the Pendergast Method. Now, as I've said in previous years, typically having your last name in front of any "method" is good for your look. It means that you've either created something intellectual ("Class, open your books to page 120; today we will be discussing the Pendergast Method of factoring binomials.") or you've created your own name-branded way for your partner to achieve orgasm. ("She loves it when I go all Pendergast Method on her.")
Well, the Pendergast Method is both of those things!
It's smart in that it applies practical knowledge and probability trends to place all 16 Texans regular season games in figurative buckets with the sole purpose of arriving at an accurate prediction of win-loss record for the upcoming season. It's orgasmic in that it directly relates to football and last season came within one game of correctly predicting the Texans's record.
In other words, it's the only "method" that could be featured on both PBS and in Hustler.
So I got that going for me, which is nice.
Now, the aforementioned "buckets" in which we place the games go as follows:
Must wins: These are games that, to have any chance of making the playoffs, the Texans have to cash in on. Worst case, you can have one mulligan. (It's the NFL. Bad weeks happen. That needs to be factored in.) But lose two of these games, and you're probably not a double-digit-win team.
Coin flippers: Games that could go either way and will likely be played within one score. To make the playoffs, the Texans need to win more of these games than they lose.
Steals: Road games in which the Texans will likely be an underdog of five points or more against teams that they've historically struggled with or match up poorly with or that they have to play in a hostile environment in potentially adverse conditions. If you're going to be a playoff team, as a rule, none of your home games can qualify for this category, and you probably need to win at least one of these along the way. Also, if you're a really good team, you probably have very few "Steal" games on your schedule, and to that end, the Texans have just one on their entire 2013 slate, according to me.
So where do the games on the 2013 slate stack up when we start applying the Pendergast Method? Well, let's take a look:
I rarely comment online. It all goes out with the tide of ignorance. But this was a very pleasurable article to read, though less than orgasmic. 11-5 sounds about right, barring widespread or catastrophic injuries.
I do think your patience chart is a little unfair to McNair, because Kubiak/Schaub were trying to take an expansion team first to break-even, then to playoff contenders, which they have done. The other coach/quarterback combinations you compare them to are all with established and successful franchises. Also, all those yards Schaub racked up in 2009 and 2010 would not have been meaningless if the Texans defense had not blown so many second half leads. The 2010 team could very easily have been 10-6 instead of 6-10, which is probably why Kubiak kept his job. It was only after Arian Foster and Wade Phillips arrived that Kubiak went more to the ball-control offense, though it does seem obvious that he is more comfortable with this type of game plan.
Contract or no contract, the pressure is on Schaub this year far more than any other player, and everybody including Schaub knows it. He's not going to get far on foot, and he's not Brady or Rodgers, but I think he's good enough. For the entire time Schaub has been here, the bigger problem has been on the other side of the line, even including the games at the end of last year when Schaub was really bad. It wasn't Schaub who put em in the hole in New England, it was the defense. The defense is way better now than it was three years ago, and with Cushing back and (we can hope) the impact of Ed Reed, it should be better than it was last year. But as you point out, they still need to prove they can beat the Superbowl quarterbacks -- there are only four that are head and shoulders above the rest and we all know who they are -- in a big game. Schaub and Kubiak can maybe win a regular season shoot-out against San Diego or Baltimore, or even Seattle or San Francisco, though it's unlikely. But to beat New England or Denver in the play-offs, and that is where the road to the Superbowl will most likely lead at 11-5, the defense has to hold them to three TDs and a field goal, or less.
If all the key pieces are healthy, who's to say it can't be done?
30-27 Texans, AFC champs.
(Then the Niners will pitch a virtual shut out in the Superbowl, sort of like Astros going down 4-0 in the World Series...)
The problem here is Gary Kubiak emotionally invested in an average QB that reminded him of himself back when he was riding the pine behind John Elway. Bob McNair emotionally invested in Kubiak in an almost father/son way. What Kubiak is doing is running the old Broncos offense with a QB closer to Bernie Kosar than John Elway. What makes matters worse is if Kubiak is fired, good old horse trader/thief Bum Phillips will amble into McNair's office and humbly suggest Wade will be "good" for the Texans. Yep, things are pretty bleak in H-town.
" ...and Tim Tebow is a bust." !!! OMG, the perfect line, fits the blackjack analogy and everything. It was right there, a bird's nest on the ground. Aaargh!
hey, man. cheer up! season has not started yet. it's gonna be fun to watch whatever happens. hope springs eternal!