Matt Schaub, Houston Texans quarterback, (Reuters)
HOUSTON, Texas – In their 11-year existence, the Houston Texans never have defeated the Baltimore Ravens. Oh-for-six.
Not a big deal, right? Maybe not.
But it is to Matt Schaub.
In an interview with me on Thursday in the club’s locker room, Schaub explained why to finally knock off one of the NFL’s most consistent playoff participants, the Ravens, sure as hell would matter.
“It’s just like a couple weeks ago – we beat the Jets, and we hadn’t ever beaten them as a franchise,” Schaub said. “If we’re going to do things around here that we want to do as a team, and as an organization, we’re going to have a lot of ‘firsts’ – a lot of things that we haven’t done before.
“Yeah, we haven’t beaten this team – especially lately (two losses last year). So we need to go out and correct that this week.”
The Texans play host to the Ravens on Sunday afternoon at Reliant Stadium, in a showdown of the AFC’s only teams with a winning record. Both are 5-1.
Schaub’s name, it seems, is always on the periphery of discussions listing the NFL’s elite quarterbacks. There’s always a ‘but’ with Schaub. And the but has changed from “sure, he passes for a lot of yards, but his teams hardly wins,” to “he’s a good passer, but only if Arian Foster runs for a lot of yards.”
Now, there’s some truth to both.
After backing up Michael Vick in Atlanta for his first three NFL seasons from 2004-06, Schaub became one of the league’s most prolific passers in Houston. Indeed, in 2009 and 2010 Schaub threw for a combined 9,140 yards – a mark that only seven other QBs in NFL history have hit in any two-year span.
But in 2010 Foster burst onto the scene. The Texans’ attack changed. And for the better, Schaub said.
“In ’07, ’08 and ’09 we were having trouble running the football, so we had to throw it a lot more,” Schaub said. “But as an offence, we like to be balanced. We like where we’ve come the last two years – being able to run the football with success when teams know we’re going to run it.
“Our play-action passing, our bootleg game – it all feeds off our run game. When we can run the ball well, we can also hit big pass plays down the field. It’s something we pride ourselves on.”
And if Schaub doesn’t appear one bit miffed that he’s always overlooked by the elite-QB anointers, he said it’s because he isn’t.
“It’s not a big deal to me,” he said with emphasis. “What I’m about is winning. Whatever it takes to win. If I don’t necessarily have the stats that other guys have, but we’re winning? I coudn’t care less.
“At the end of the day it’s about winning games, and winning championships. That’s where our team is headed, and that’s where I want to go.”
The 6-foot-5, 241-pound classic dropback passer from West Chester, Pa., is age 31. The time to win it all is now. Schaub has enough first-rate players surrounding him on the Ravens offence to make it happen – not just Foster, one of the NFL’s top runners, but veteran deep-threat wideout Andre Johnson and under-rated tight ends Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham.
With Schaub sidelined for the last half of last season with a foot injury, the Texans still beat the Cincinnati Bengals in the wildcard playoff round before losing a close one to, yes, Baltimore.
Thus, with Schaub back, the Texans were a popular pick in the pre-season to win the AFC and reach the Super Bowl (raises hand). Starting out 5-0 fueled such talk.
“We’re hungry to get back to the playoffs,” Schaub said. “After you get a little taste of something like that, you want to get back there even more. But we know that it’s a long season, and we’re barely getting toward the halfway point.
“So we’re focused on the next thing in front of us, and that’s the Baltimore Ravens.”
First things first.
SCHAUB FAST FACTS:
* Before last week’s loss to Green Bay, Schaub had led the Texans to nine consecutive wins – his last four games in 2011 before a season-ending foot injury, and the first five games of 2012. In that span he completed 64% of his passes for 2,044 yards, 13 touchdowns and only three interceptions for a 103.3 passer rating.
* His career completion percentage of 64.3 ranks eighth in NFL history among QBs with 1,500 or more attempts.
* The Texans are 22-12 at Reliant Stadium (their home field) with Schaub at the helm.
* In 2009 and 2010, Schaub threw it around like an elite passer. 9,140 yards total – only one of eight QBs in NFL history to do it.
* Since coming to Houston in 2007, Schaub is 4th in the NFL with 7.94 yards per attempt.