On Matt Schaub, elite quarterbacks, QB rankings, clutch and the ‘Schaubnado’
When did NFL media start talking about “elite” quarterbacks? I think it originated from someone asking Eli Manning in a radio whether he was an “elite” quarterback.
You know, the whole can’t spell “Elite” without “Eli” thing.
Now that has become the new gotcha question about quarterbacks. You ask them if they consider themselves elite. You ask others if they consider a particular QB elite.
Matt Schaub was asked the “elite” question last year. He responded quite sensibly:
That’s just for outsiders’ perspective and how they can rank or sort through things.I don’t pay any attention to that or think about that.
It’s used so loosely nowadays that who knows what it means?
I tend not to pay much attention to ranking stuff. That’s usually the sort of talk that happens when there is no real news going on.
But then it keeps coming up. Texans quarterback coach Karl Dorrell was recently asked about Schaub and responded:
He’s had an excellent offseason. He’s in great shape physically, and I think he’s ready to take it up a notch going into 2013. If you’re an elite player in this league, you’re able to be a crunch time player.
I know Matt’s really right there; he’s on the cusp of being one of those players.
I think in his mind he knows he can play better, and he would like to put this on his shoulders and get this team to the Super Bowl.
“Cusp” of elite? Yuck.
The best news from this is that his QB coach thinks he’s had a excellent off-season and is in great shape. Much better, I trust, than being just a few months removed from riding around on a Rascal scooter post-foot injury.
Recently, Texans GM Rick Smith on NFL Network didn’t get into QB “elite” talk, but did note that quarterbacks are “judged by championships” and that Schaub in crunch time “needs to play better.” Also worth noting he believes Schaub doesn’t get enough respect from around the league but gets it in the locker room where it matters.
My thoughts on Matt Schaub’s current legacy, elite quarterbacks, quarterback rankings and clutch in an order that will sort of all be mixed together.
Think it is odd judging Matt Schaub’s career so far because it is unusual. He did not start off his career as a starter. When he became a starter, he came into a situation which is not ideal for someone trying to be a successful quarterback.
My view is the ideal winning situation for a new QB starter is an experienced offensive line, quality running game and solid defense. Think Ben Roethlisberger or Joe Flacco or the beginning of Mark Sanchez’s career. Ideally, that is the situation that protects new quarterbacks the best. It is also the situation that tends to provide the most wins.
For the first part of Schaub’s time with the Texans, he worked with a developing offensive line, did not have a consistent running game, and he played with one of the worst defenses in the NFL.
Arian Foster, paired with offensive coordinator Rick Dennison made the running game more consistent. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips paired with J.J. Watt et al helped the defense.
Since the Texans have got a consistent running game and a credible defense, they have made the playoffs two years in a row. Funny how that works.
This Matt Schaub post a few months ago was meant to be my comprehensive last word on all things Texans quarterback. If you haven’t read it, and you are a Texans fan, you should. It’s the one post that I refer to when someone asks me about Schaub.
The short version is despite a 12 win regular season, last year was Schaub’s worst personal year in the NFL by far. For whatever the reasons, last year was not a “Same Old Schaub” season as far as his personal performance compared to previous years, particularly down the stretch.
The pro-Schaub view is that though he may have his limitations, he is a solid NFL quarterback who can manage games and on occasion may help you win games in a shootout. He had plenty of years where is play would have been good enough to win games but for the fact that he often played with one of the worst defenses in the NFL.
The pro-Schaub view is aptly represented in this NFL.com article about the most underrated/overrated Texans of all time. In key part:
In the six seasons since Schaub arrived in 2007, the Texans are 53-43 (.552) with one losing season and two AFC South titles. Schaub ranks seventh in NFL history in completion percentage (64.3), ahead of Tom Brady and Joe Montana. He ranks 11th all time in passer rating (91.9) and 12th in passing yards per attempt (7.77). Since 2007, he’s ninth in the NFL in passer rating (93.3), ahead of Matt Ryan (90.9), Michael Vick (87.8), Eli Manning (86.5) and Joe Flacco (86.3). And Schaub’s 261.4 passing yards per game since joining the Texans would rank third in NFL history behind only Drew Brees (270.1) and Peyton Manning (265.6).
The anti-Schaub view tends to focus on his limitations. Ideally in the Texans-form. of offense, you’d have a more mobile quarterback with a John Elway arm. Yes, Matt Schaub is one of the most effective quarterbacks in selling play action, but the offense works better when there is a quarterback that can make defenses pay if they can’t defend a scrambling quarterback. Schaub is among the most effective in the NFL when the pocket is clean, but how often does that happen against great defenses?
(Interestingly, this year’s Football Outsiders Almanac notes that Schaub had difficulty last year with the big blitz, but in previous years he was able to torch teams which big blitzed.)
Oh, and when the most people were watching him at the end of last year, not only did he have some bad moments, but he had some comically bad moments.
Solid, not Elite?
The NFL.com article about Schaub being underrated concluded that he was not elite, but “certainly better than people give him credit for.”
Think that is probably fair, though as Schaub noted before: How do you define elite?
For me personally, the quarterbacks that I see as being in a class by themselves (a definition of elite) are not just ones who win. You need a decent enough quarterback to win games, win Super Bowls, but a number of marginal (hi Rex Grossman) to good to great quarterbacks went to a Super Bowl. Winning is to a large degree a team statistic, except:
There are some quarterbacks who can win, despite having less than ideal offensive lines, a parade of different offensive players around them, bad running games, bad defenses. And they have done it over many years.
The ones that are still playing are Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers. I might be convinced to throw Drew Brees in that mix (he had challenges last year unprecedented in the NFL). Not surprisingly, in a worth-reading recent article about the best quarterbacks by Grantland’s Bill Barnwell, Manning, Brady, Rodgers at one time were considered the best in the league in a particular year.
What makes these quarterbacks great is consistency. They have very few poor games, and even when their defense or running game is playing poorly, you still expect them to win more often than they lose. And they make the offense around them better.
Sometimes it seems like the entire internet is a list of things. Why? Readers click on them.
Recently, ESPN’s Ron Jaworski rated Matt Schaub the 9th best quarterback in the NFL.
To me, the rankings are sort of hard to do because it depends on what you value. All quarterbacks have strengths and weaknesses, and they are used differently.
Clearly, Jaworski valued above-average, consistent play for a long period of time higher than some other people might.
If you value consistency and game management, you may value Schaub higher than some other quarterbacks who may have better raw skills, but are more likely to have extremely inconsistent games (Joe Flacco) or turn into a feast or famine interception machine (Tony Romo). (If you are of the view that the Texans can’t win a Super Bowl with Matt Schaub, please look at that Flacco link. Flacco had his worst regular season of his career in 2012, worse than Schaub’s lowest year, and he and his team got healthy, lucky and good at the right time. Timing isn’t everything in the NFL, but it sure does matter a lot).
If you value skill plus upside, you may rank impressive younger quarterbacks higher. Andrew Luck, for example, is a quarterback that could excel in a number of schemes, and would be absolute perfection in what the Texans do.
The question for a number of the promising young quarterbacks is whether they can survive the hits they take in their learning years while their teams are being built, or do they end up like Tim Couch, a promising player who got hurt early in his career and then was never the same.
Ultimately, rankings are sort of stupid. All quarterbacks and strengths and weaknesses and suitability for different offenses and you don’t get to use rankings to get you a new quarterback. The rankings are about what you value in a quarterback.
Clutch. Is it a skill?
One of the repeated statements about Matt Schaub’s 2012 is that he needs to play better in clutch situations.
Despite going into his 10th season, 7th year as a starter, 2012 was the first season where Matt Schaub faced games that really did matter. In the 2011 season, he got hurt. And before that, the defense was so terrible they had no true opportunity to compete in the post-season.
There’s been some seasons where Texans wins down the stretch, despite a poor defense, likely saved the coaches’ jobs. We often remember when Schaub came short in a comeback, but often forget when he got them wins or gave them the opportunity to win, but the defense came short.
Selective memory tends to remember the horrific and bad versus consistent play that leads to wins.
There’s plenty of no-doubt good players who repeatedly failed in “clutch” situations before experience, circumstance and team provided them Super Bowl wins.
Here’s a variety of articles analyzing the concept of clutch as it relates to the NFL:
Brian Burke of Advanced NFL Stats site believes that clutch isn’t a persistent, reproducible skill but rather can just be measured in an event to event basis. In this article, “Who is the Clutchiest Post-Season QB?”, Matt Schaub’s clutch numbers in 2012 unsurprisingly are poor. Read how Burke defines “clutch” and play around with the charts in the post to see that even some quarterbacks we consider as great have poor clutch numbers, and ones we consider eh, have great clutch numbers.
Ultimately, the problem with “clutch” is most quarterbacks don’t get a lot of opportunities to do clutch things, and with small sample sizes, a few plays can adversely affect results.
In addition, the timing of “clutch” play can affect how we judge how clutch a player is. Bill Barnwell in a Grantland piece from the end of last season talked about Tom Brady’s career as seen in reverse. It is an interesting thought experiment.
John Elway was considered non-clutch, until he had success late in his career paired with a running game and solid defensive play.
After discussing, the play here, there nature of the NFL, he concludes, “The truth isn’t quite as satisfying as a one-word label like “clutch” or “unclutch,” but football’s a lot more complicated than one-word labels. It deserves better, and just as the likes of Manning and Ryan are demeaned with overly simplistic stories about their playoff performance, so is Brady.”
The simple truth.
Whatever your view of Matt Schaub, you will likely see something in this article that supports your point of view. His story is still being told until it is not.
In the past, he has played well enough to be an asset to the team, but he needs to play better than he did last year.
With a very small sample size to judge, everyone agrees he needs to play better in big games, and the Texans’ view tends to be that as the whole team gets more experience in big moments, they will play better.
So, the next time someone asks me about ranking quarterbacks, elite, clutch, blah blah Schaub, this is the post I will point them to. I don’t care about bar debates on quarterbacks.
I think Matt Schaub is good enough to win games for you, and good enough to win a Super Bowl, but like most quarterbacks in the league, he needs it to be a team effort.
Not a particularly controversial point of view but I’m not looking for that sort of thing. I look to be fair and factual, and let other people stir the pot.
Recently, there was an intentionally terrible movie on the television called “Sharknado.” It was about waterspouts that picked up sharks, came on shore in the Los Angeles area, and then the sharks caused toothy mayhem.
Articles reprinted from:http://blog.chron.com/ultimatetexans/2013/07/on-matt-schaub-elite-quarterbacks-qb-rankings-clutch-and-the-schaubnado/
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