Evan’s Hot Seat: Matt SchaubBy Evan on October 04, 2012
Oh what might have been. The Houston Texans have played terrifically over the first 4 weeks of 2012 under the leadership of Matt Schaub. After watching Schaub over the first 4 weeks, it is easy to come to the conclusion that had the Texans quarterback not been lost to a Linsfranc injury last November we might have crowned a different Super Bowl Champ. In 2012, Schaub is completing 67% of his throws, avoiding turnovers (only 1 pick in 124 attempts), and avoiding sacks by getting rid of the ball quickly (he has been sacked only 3 times through 4 games). Due to his efforts, the Texans offense is second in the league in scoring which when paired with a scary defense make Houston a logically favorite to come out of the AFC.
Is the Schaub of 2012 different than the version we have seen in the past? In fact we are seeing a new Matt Schaub. After averaging over 36 throws per game in 2009 and 2010, Schaub has reduced that number to just a tick over 30. As I mentioned before, Schaub has also been sacked less than once per game in 2012 after getting brought down nearly twice per game between 2009 and 2010. When factoring the fewer attempts with the fewer sacks in 2012, Schaub has reduced the number of times he drops back to pass 7.5 less times per game. What players does this change in play effect most?
Arian Foster and Ben Tate
The 2012 Houston Texans are one of the few teams in the league that run the ball more than they throw it. With Matt Schaub relying more on his running game, the two main cogs in the backfield have more chances to post solid rushing stats. Foster still gets the bulk of the chances however, the 37 attempts per game that the Texans are averaging in 2012 means that there is plenty of opportunity for Tate to be productive too. Barring a change in philosophy from Schaub and offensive-minded head coach Gary Kubiak, the Texans backfield will continue to flourish. When you also remember that both backs are good receivers out of the backfield, it makes the thought of starting either Texans running back a good idea on any given week.
Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter
There was a point in time when Andre Johnson could be counted on to post receiving stats that no one else in football could match. After 3 straight seasons (2008-10, Johnson also suffered from the injury bug in 2011) that saw him average over 95 yards receiving per contest, Johnson has managed to average only 67 yards per game in 2012. It would be logical for Johnson’s stats to dip this year since Schaub is throwing the ball less. The fact that Johnson is going to be targeted a little more than 2 fewer times per game (using 2009 stats as a point of reference -the last time Johnson and Schaub both played all 16 games of a season together- and the 7.5 fewer throws per game by Schaub) means Andre Johnson owners should expect to see similar results for the remainder of the season. Similarly, Kevin Walter, who averaged over 54 catches a season while playing with a healthy Schaub, has seen his pass catching numbers dip in response to the reduced role of the pass in the Texans offense. Fantasy owners who grabbed Walter hoping for an increased role for him in 2012 should start scouring the waiver wire for a replacement.
Regardless of the change in Matt Schaub’s play in 2012, the Texans look like an extremely dangerous team. The expectation should not be for Schaub to return to the gunslinger that he was in his earlier years in Houston but rather for the veteran to rely on his running game and defense to get the team through the AFC and to New Orleans for the Super Bowl.