TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 13: Quarterback Matt Schaub #8 of the Houston Texans warms up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on November 13, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
All eyes will be on Schaub's foot
Despite being a stable position for the last five years, at least when Matt Schaub is healthy, the quarterback position is probably the most talked about spot on the team. The secondary in 2010 and the third wide receiver spot last season have at times taken the focus away from quarterback, but the signal caller has been main topic for talk shows for almost the Texans entire history. Matt Schaub was initially embraced coming off back to back horrible seasons from David Carr, but after a fourth straight non-playoff season in 2010, Schaub became most fans favorite whipping boy. Quarterbacks are often the main topic of conversation given the importance and spotlight given to the position, but Schaub seemed to get the bulk of the blame despite not having any running game or defense for most of those non-playoff seasons. The Texans addressed the secondary last off-season and drafted two wide receivers in this years draft, so the fan/media scrutiny will once again be back on Schaub. After the team won their first ever playoff game, without Schaub, he has a lot of questions to answer; especially with his durability. Saying that, if Schaub had been healthy, they probably would have beaten the Ravens, but that's just it; IF he's healthy. If Schaub stays healthy, plays well, and the Texans advance deep into the playoffs; they'll sign him to an extension. If not, they'll likely move on next off-season.
Matt Schaub - At the age of 31, Schaub is closer to the end of his career than the beginning, but I think he still has a few prime years left. Over the last three seasons, Schaub has averaged 3,873 yards, 23 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, with a 95.7 QB rating. Multiple that out over a full 16 game season and it becomes 4,425 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions; very good numbers, but can he stay healthy enough to put up those stats? Given the overall talent now surrounding Schaub, I think he's good enough to get them to a Super Bowl. He's not an elite quarterback, and probably ranks 10th at best among his peers, but he fits this system very well and can get the job done. With Schaub last season, the Texans were 7-3 through 10 games, averaged 27 points per game, and were considered a Super Bowl favorite; if he stays healthy, I think they'll resume that level of play.
T.J. Yates - If Schaub suffers another injury, Yates will be his primary backup this season. After starting off last season as the third string quarterback, Yates was forced into action after injuries to Schaub and Matt Leinart in consecutive games. Yates showed flashes of potential, but was prone to rookie mistakes; especially in the 2nd round playoff game vs. Baltimore. Like most young players, Yates was very up and down during his rookie season. Yates was excellent at times in games vs. the Bengals, but awful against the Carolina Panthers. I don't believe Yates has full-time starter potential, at least not as a high level starter, but he's a capable backup. Having Andre Johnson healthy would certainly help if he's forced into action again.
John Beck - If Beck has to play, the Texans are in trouble. The ex BYU Cougar was a bust in Miami but got a second chance in Washington last season. In four games with the Redskins, who run a very similar offense, Beck threw for 214 yards per game, with 2 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, and a 72.1 QB rating. There seems to be a perception that Kubiak is a QB guru who can get something out of anyone, but I don't think he can fix John Beck. Kubiak didn't fix Carr, I'm not convinced he fixed Leinart in limited action (rarely attempted passes over five yards), and he won't make much of a difference with Beck. That's not to say he's a bad coach, but the player has to have some level of talent in order to bring something out of him.
Case Keenum - If he makes the roster, he'll spend the entire year on the practice squad. I'm not a fan of keeping four quarterbacks, so Keenum needs to show something in training camp to earn a spot. Keenum set records while playing at the University of Houston, but I don't believe he's an NFL quarterback. He's smart and accurate, but he doesn't possess the arm strength to make the necessary throws, he didn't play in an NFL offense at Houston or take snaps under center, and lacks prototypical NFL size for the position. Smart and accurate is great, but if you're having to think about your feet because you're not used to dropping back, and you lack the strength to get the throw out to the spot and on time; then the intangibles don't matter.
In the short term, the Texans are pretty solid at quarterback, but their future needs to be addressed next off-season. Schaub is a pro-bowl caliber player when healthy and they have a backup who knows the system and has shown potential. In a perfect scenario, I'd like to see them re-sign Schaub to a two or three year deal, and draft a rookie to groom in the first or second round. Ultimately,, for the Texans to reach their goals, Schaub will have to remain healthy.
For more on the Texans, check out the Battle Red Blog!