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Schaub on Front Page of USA Today Today

Discussion in 'Houston Texans' started by dandorotik, Nov 23, 2009.

  1. dandorotik

    dandorotik Contributing Member

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    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/texans/2009-11-19-matt-schaub-cover_N.htm

    HOUSTON — Andre Johnson leaned back in his locker and laughed. The memory of the Houston Texans' inability to stay on the field in past seasons made the All-Pro receiver chuckle.

    Johnson, who has been with the Texans since 2003, didn't find anything funny about his offense's futility. This season is different, thanks in large part to somewhat anonymous Matt Schaub, who can be found surrounded by Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Kurt Warner, Drew Brees, Brett Favre and Ben Roethlisberger near the top of most of the NFL's quarterback statistics.

    Eight years into the franchise's existence, Schaub has made the Texans playoff contenders for the first time.

    WEEK 11 PICKS: Lots of support for Texans vs. Titans
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    "I understand my role in our offense and what we're trying to get done," he said. "I understand what we have offensively and the skills and what each player brings to the table so that we can play to those strengths. I just feel like I'm much more comfortable this year with what we're doing."

    Two-and-a-half years after Schaub took the reins from David Carr, the Texans rank sixth offensively and are 5-4 for the first time. And Schaub, who has missed five games with injuries each of the last two seasons, appears to be healthy. Now, one of his biggest challenges may be overcoming the loss of key teammates to injuries — including tight end Owen Daniels.

    "I remember when (Schaub) first got here we (on defense) were so used to, 'OK, hurry up and get a drink of water because we're going to have to go back out in the next three plays,' " cornerback Dunta Robinson said. "Now, we sit on the bench so long we end up getting up and going to watch the game. And that has a lot to do with Schaub. He's playing great and we love him."

    The pressure is on Schaub and coach Gary Kubiak to win this season. Owner Bob McNair has stated he wants the Texans to be an "elite" team.

    The Texans, whose best finish was .500, aren't anointing themselves Super Bowl contenders. Nonetheless, they heap praise on their quarterback.

    "I've seen the worst of the worse," Johnson said without exaggeration after playing for a team that ranked among the NFL's five worst offensive teams in 2002, '03, '05 and '06.

    Schaub, 28, quietly has situated himself among the NFL's elite. He ranks third in passing yards (2,653) behind Manning and Brady. He ranks fourth in first downs (122), trailing Manning, Brady and Warner. Only Manning, Brees, Favre and Roethlisberger have better completion percentages than Schaub (67.5). He's thrown 17 touchdowns vs. nine interceptions.

    "He's been putting up big numbers for awhile, but now he's staying in the game," says right tackle Eric Winston, in his fourth season with Houston. "He's putting consecutive games together and he's winning them, and I think he's finally getting the credit that goes with all of that."

    Schaub wants the one thing all of those elite quarterbacks have already had — playoff glory. The Texans have finished as high as third in the AFC South only twice (2004, '08), always struggling most against division foes. They are 1-2 vs. division opponents this season with narrow losses to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Indianapolis Colts.

    "When it ends, we want to be in the playoffs," Schaub said. "We want to have a chance to go to the Super Bowl. That's all out there in front of us if we just go out there and play well for seven weeks. That's our goal."

    Schaub's battle with injuries

    A third-round draft pick out of Virginia in 2004, Schaub spent three years with the Atlanta Falcons as a backup to Michael Vick. He was traded to Houston in March 2007 and has had a bye week to prepare for his 32nd start as a Texan on Monday vs. the Tennessee Titans.

    Schaub has battled injuries since coming to Houston. Last December, he returned from a four-game absence because of a sprained knee and threw for 414 yards in 3-degree temperatures as the Texans upset the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Since then, Schaub has made 13 consecutive starts and is third in the NFL with an average 294.8 passing yards.

    He is playing well despite losing two starting guards (Chester Pitts and Mike Brisiel) to injuries. The offense also has had to make substantial changes in recent weeks because of the season-ending knee injury Nov. 1 to Pro Bowl tight end Daniels, the team's second-leading receiver with 519 yards and five touchdowns.

    In the two games since Daniels' injury, Schaub has tried to spread the ball among running backs Steve Slaton and Ryan Moats and wide receivers Kevin Walter and Johnson (who ranks third among NFL receivers with 800 yards). Moats broke out for 126 yards vs. the Buffalo Bills, but had just 38 in the loss to Indianapolis.

    Despite the obstacles, Schaub is playing better than he ever has heading into the franchise's second appearance on Monday Night Football.

    "I'll be honest, I coach him as hard as anybody I've ever coached," said Kubiak, who also coached Hall of Famers Steve Young with the San Francisco 49ers and John Elway with the Denver Broncos. "I have big-time expectations for him and what he can do for this franchise. I've been very impressed with how he puts up with me and my expectations of his play.

    "We brought him in here to take over, but he didn't just walk over and take over a championship team. He had a big, big challenge on his hands and he's been up for the growth process."

    Kubiak says it's not unusual for him to find Schaub at Reliant Stadium at 5 a.m., and the quarterback is more than a casual observer during game planning. He challenges Kubiak during the week and at times in games.

    "He's a guy who is going to battle you for all the right reasons because between the two of you, you're trying to win," Kubiak said. "It's just as important to him as it is to you, and that's a good thing to know as a coach."

    Heart of the team

    Schaub's teammates were sold on his work ethic and drive long ago. The day he was traded from Atlanta, Schaub asked for the team's phone list. He called each teammate to tell them how much he was looking forward to the season.

    He and his wife, Laurie, often host the players at their home. Schaub also takes different teammates out for dinner at various times of the year and tries to coordinate Halloween and Christmas get-togethers.

    On the flight home from road games, Schaub sits across the aisle from Johnson to rehash every play and discuss what each was thinking.

    Johnson was surprised by it all at first — the phone calls, the invites, the postgame chats.

    "The relationship I have with him is totally different than the relationship I had with David (Carr) and the other guys we've had," said Johnson. "I think it's helped a lot and it's carried over onto the field. When David was here, I never talked to David outside of the locker room. But Matt, he has you over to his house.

    "In OTAs, he's like, 'I'm throwing burgers on the grill. You guys come over and jump in the pool.' Just little things like that tell you a lot about a guy. We knew we had the right guy from that first phone call."

    Schaub's parents still travel to all his games, as they did when he was in East High School in West Chester, Pa., and at Virginia.

    That traveling fan club will add a new member this offseason. Laurie is expecting the couple's first child in March.

    Schaub admits he's more nervous about becoming a father than he is about taking on the streaking Titans and Houston native Vince Young.

    "I don't think I quite understand all that it entails, the responsibility you have when you have a child who depends on you for everything," Schaub said.

    Before his daughter is born, Schaub would like to help the Texans make history.

    "I think if he stays healthy, he's going to have a career where he's going to put up some big numbers in this league," Kubiak said.

    "It has a lot to do with the organization and this football team growing. You get better as a quarterback when your team can win in a lot of ways, not just your way. So, the growth of this organization will have a lot to do with his continued maturity and his ability to reach new levels."
     
  2. DonnyMost

    DonnyMost not wrong
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    What's USA Today Today?

    ;)
     
  3. conquistador#11

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    today today? or later later. =)

    That's awesome for schaub, and he didn't even have to advertise for a car dealership.
     
  4. DonnyMost

    DonnyMost not wrong
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    Megan Manfull Ortiz?

    She got married and STILL kept her pornstar name? Wow.
     
  5. ima_drummer2k

    ima_drummer2k Contributing Member

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    Schaub and AJ are a lot alike. They are both really good, but neither one could give two ****s about being in the limelight. Such a refreshing change of pace from the TO's and Bret Favre's of the league.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. The Cat

    The Cat Contributing Member

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    Read the last section, in particular. It's good, but, but... DD told me Schaub wasn't a good leader! ;)
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. The Cat

    The Cat Contributing Member

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    Haha. She's been married (to Jesus Ortiz, thus the name) the entire time she's been at the Chronicle, I believe... I always wondered why she used Ortiz in other situations but not the bylines...
     
  8. rrj_gamz

    rrj_gamz Contributing Member

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    Made me think of thread "ride ride"...

    very cool...
     
  9. vinsensual

    vinsensual Member

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    "Worst of the worse"! It's awesome how Andre Johnson and I share the same opinion.
     
  10. kaleidosky

    kaleidosky Your Tweety Bird dance just cost us a run

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    same haha
     
  11. fredred

    fredred Member

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    Because it gets confusing to readers who follow her and know her as Manfull, as terrible a name as that is.

    Anyway, the part about Schaub and AJ sitting next to each other on the plane and talking about every single play brings a smile to my face. You can say all that paying off on the field.
     
  12. dandorotik

    dandorotik Contributing Member

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    Ha, ha, waiting for someone to catch that and say, "hey, you made a typo!" as if I didn't intend it that way. You know that's what someone probably thought. But, hey, look no further than the 80s:

    <object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/6hHnOBlwU3A&hl=en_US&fs=1&"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/6hHnOBlwU3A&hl=en_US&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

    <object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/gudEttJlw3s&hl=en_US&fs=1&"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/gudEttJlw3s&hl=en_US&fs=1&" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>
     
  13. Two Sandwiches

    Two Sandwiches Contributing Member

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    Nice article.


    I hope this team comes out of the bye week hot. I don't know what to expect tonight.
     

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