The veterans of the Houston Texans report to training camp on Thursday, July 25, so without further ado, it is time to begin the ’13 season by talking about the most important, or at least most scrutinized position on the team, that being the quarterback position of the Texans.
Headed into camp, the biggest question mark for the Texans isn’t who will be the starting QB on week one when when the Texans face the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football (Matt Schaub has the spot locked down) or who will be the backup (T.J. Yates), but who will be the third QB on the roster with Stephen McGee and Case Keenum battling for the final spot of the QB depth chart.
Let’s take a look at the four QBs in the roster for the Texans headed into training camp.
Matt Schaub has been the No. 1 signal caller for the Houston Texans since starting 11 games in ’07. This ’13 season will be his seventh year as the Texans’ starting quarterback, and his 10th overall season overall.
Schaub and his teammates have to take the next step in the postseason, as they’ve finished the past two years being eliminated in the divisional round of the AFC Postseason, being ousted by the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots.
Schaub is coming off a ’12 passing rating of 90.7 (9th in the NFL) with 22 touchdowns (tied for 15th with Carson Palmer and Joe Flacco). He passed for 4,008 yards (11th best last season), as the Texans won the AFC South title with a 12-4 record (5-1 in AFC South), completing 63.3 percent of his passes with 12 interceptions.
Going into camp, Schaub, is set to be the starter for the Texans once again, but even with over 4,000 yards through the air, what is the outlook of the veteran QB?
Schaub, who was recently ranked as the No. 9 best QB in the NFL by ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski, led the Texans to a 19-13 playoff win against the Cincinnati Bengals, which was the second consecutive year the Texans defeated Cincinnati in the Wild Card round.
As for overall improvement for the starting QB in Houston, quarterbacks coach Karl Dorrell told houstontexans.com the following at the conclusion of the June mini camp:
“Matt had a really good season in terms of coming off his injury in 2011 and getting himself to win some of those accolades towards the end of the year like the Pro Bowl.
“But I think it wasn’t enough. In his mind and in my mind, there’s so much more he can bring to the table. He’s already a great leader. He’s already a guy that really can operate this offense at the highest level with efficiency. We know that from our standpoint, there was definitely stuff that we left on the table last year.”
The QB coach went on to say, “He’s (Schaub) 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.“
Though Schaub was coming off an injury going into last season’s camp, this year coming off his first postseason as a starting QB (he missed the ’11 postseason with an injury), he’s healthy going into the camp, and needs to stay healthy playing in a division with the resurgent Indianapolis Colts and a Tennessee Titans team that is sure to be improved. The Jacksonville Jaguars also have nowhere to go but up following a season where they went 2-14 overall.
Back to Schaub’s postseason in for the ’12 season.
He was 63-for-89 with 605 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and one fumble in two games. He completed 70 percent of his passes with a rating of 87.5 percent. The Texans were eliminated from the postseason by the Patriots by a 41-28 score at Foxborough.
In that game, Schaub attempted 51 passes (he attempted 38 the previous week in the win vs. Cincinnati), completing 34 for 343 yards with two TDs and one interception. In the divisional round game, on the first possession, Schaub had a pass dropped in the red zone, and two plays later, Schaub overthrew Andre Johnson in the back of the end zone on third down.
Schaub, again, will have Johnson as his No. 1 receiving target, followed by rookie DeAndre Hopkins (’13 first-round pick) projected to be on the opposite side of the veteran Johnson. Schaub will also have Arian Foster carrying the football and Owen Daniels back at tight end.
T.J. Yates enters his third season as backup quarterback for the Texans. Yates didn’t see the field much last season, attempting just 10 passes in four games one season ago for 38 yards. He had no passing TDs, but did rush for a score in a Week 14, 42-14 loss to the Patriots.
Two seasons ago, Yates proved why having a quality No. 2 QB on the roster is valuable in the NFL. When Schaub suffered his season-ending foot injury, Yates, as a rookie, stepped in and not only helped the Texans win a playoff game at Cincinnati, but in six games played in ’11 (excluding the postseason), Yates was 82-of-134 for 949 yards with three TDs and three interceptions. Though he was sacked 15 times Yates did his part to get the Texans in the postseason that year.
If the Texas are lucky, the stats of ’12 will return for Yates, instead of the ones from ’11, as that will mean Schaub will stay on the field for the entire season.
Vying to be the No. 3 QB on the roster, Stephen McGee didn’t have any service in the NFL last season and has played in just three games in his career, all with the Dallas Cowboys in ’10 and ’11. The 27-year-old has just one start in the NFL, and for his career has passed for 420 yards and three touchdowns.
Case Keenum, an undrafted ’12 rookie free agent, spent last season on the Texans’ practice squad. Coming out of the University of Houston, Keenum passed for a career total of 19,217 yards with 155 TDs and 46 interceptions.
In an article by Nick Scurfield (houstontexans.com), Texans head coach Gary Kubiak is quoted on Keenum, saying in May: “It’s automatic for him now. That’s what I like. I think Case is fixing to be extremely competitive with T.J. and Matt. It comes from just confidence and knowing what we’re doing. You can just tell today, he comes out here with a bunch of young kids, but he was obviously the leader of the group today with everything he did.”
It looks as though Keenum will get a very good chance for the No. 3 spot in a preseason battle with McGee.