The Matt Schaub Jersey Barbecue
His jersey wasn't on fire...yet.
Photo by Groovehouse
"But I put him in a bad situation, not running the ball there, trying to be aggressive, trying to make a play and we didn't. And it ended up killing us." -- Gary Kubiak on the Seahawks' interception returned for the game tying touchdown against the Texans
After the Texans' maddening 23-20 overtime loss to the Seahawks on Sunday, Gary Kubiak was in typical "Kubiak mode," absorbing blame like some sort of contrition sponge, doing whatever he could to shield his quarterback Matt Schaub from the inevitable critical onslaught from fans and media, a siege which Sunday escalated to the point where some fans were actually burning Schaub replica jerseys in the Reliant Stadium parking lot.
As we all know, when lighter fluid becomes a key element in how you express your emotions on a topic, you're in a pretty bad place. (Also, you're a loser. This is a fact.)
The Texans right now are in a pretty bad place, and I don't mean 2-2 trailing the Colts and Titans in the AFC South. I mean big picture, long term, in the pursuit of anything substantial.
Because this franchise, with an elite defense and a Hall of Fame wide receiver whose clock is ticking, is stuck in the land of the decently relevant wannabes trying to carry its head coach and quarterback on its back like a couple of one ton boulders.
If you're looking for two plays in the Texans' 23-20 overtime loss to the Seahawks yesterday that encapsulate the exact reason why the Texans will never go anywhere that really matters with Matt Schaub as their quarterback, I'll point you to two plays in overtime:
* Texans ball, 1st and 10 at their own 49 yard line. Seattle's defensive line gets some pressure up the middle, and rather than make any move at all using his feet Matt Schaub relents into the fetal position to take a nine yard sack, effectively ending the drive. (The next two plays were an incomplete short pass to Keshawn Martin and a harmless, glacial five yard scramble by Schaub.)
* Seahawks ball, 2nd and 4 at their own 37 yard line. The Texans' defensive line gets a similar push and brings pressure on Wilson. In virtually the same tight quarters which had Schaub crumbling into a heap, Wilson was able to roll to his left with speed, get to the corner and gain seven yards for a first down, keeping the chains moving on the drive that ended with the game winning field goal.
Running an NFL offense is a messy business, and rarely do things go perfectly. In today's NFL, the good quarterbacks have something to fall back on when the script is suddenly amended by the opposing defense. Call it their special "superhero power."
Wilson and Colin Kaepernick have their mobility. Aaron Rodgers is mobile and has a cannon to make off schedule throws to any part of the field. Tom Brady has his sixth sense pocket presence. Peyton Manning may as well be calling the plays for the offense and the defense. Every good quarterback has something.
Matt Schaub has nothing. He has no superhero powers.
In the superhero movie that is the NFL season, Schaub's one of those cops on the street, fighting the good fight with a pistol and taser while Rodgers, Manning, and even Wilson at key times on Sunday, are frying up bad guys with lasers from their eyeballs.
In today's NFL, you need a superhero who takes those half dozen or so plays where their powers are necessary and makes them the difference between winning and losing.
Because here's the thing on Schaub -- if a Texans' passing play gets executed perfectly on all levels, the line blocks it right, the primary receivers run their routes and get comfortably open, Schaub (like dozens of others) can hit wide open guys.
However, if there is one glitch in the plan -- pressure up front, tight coverage, wrong route -- it is a stone cold lock that the result will be a sack, a forced throw, an intentional throwaway, or (all too often lately) a back breaking mistake. Because the robotic, methodical Schaub is incapable of improvisation, physically for sure and, it appears oftentimes, mentally as well.
That's how plays like the soul crusher on Sunday, the 58 yard interception return for a touchdown by Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman late in the game, happen. Schaub keeps running the play as its drawn up even in the face of a blitzing linebacker and tight coverage on Owen Daniels. There was nothing happening on that play as it unfolded that said throwing it to Daniels was a good idea.
Yet Schaub did it anyway.
Truth be told, Kubiak is accurate in his scathing self-assessment in one respect -- throwing the ball there was the incorrect call. There are times where Kubiak should be more aggressive. Up seven points, 3rd and 4 at Seattle's 40 yard line with three minutes to go in a game that your defense is dominating is not one of those times.
That said, for Kubiak to take the blame for Schaub's insanely poor decision on the throw is silly. Did Kubiak call the wrong play? Probably. Did Kubiak put Schaub in a "bad situation"? No. Schaub screwed Schaub. Kubiak taking the brunt is like a parent blaming himself for their kid getting a speeding ticket because he bought the kid a car.
Matt Schaub can do nothing off schedule, and with an offensive line that is banged up in spots and not very good in others, that will be the kiss of death for the Texans. The overly conservative head coach has hitched his wagon to a null set at quarterback, a null set who is now prone to game changing mistakes every week, and together the two of them have chained the elite defense and what's left of Andre Johnson's career to their legs for a ride to nowhere on the ShitBird Express.
Next stop, San Francisco.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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