Matt Schaub's poor performance Monday night set off another round of debate about his big-game capabilities.
Bill Barnwell at Grantland and Chase Stuart of Football Perspective both looked at Schaub's numbers in day games versus night games. Schaub has not been good at night, but both analysts resist jumping to say that those prime-time games which we figure are against better defenses are an issue.
Schaub is 41-31 in day games and 2-5 at night, per Stuart. Putting the day-night numbers from Barnwell into the passer rating formula, Schaub is at 94.5 during the day and 74.1 at night.
Says Stuart: “We see Schaub’s nighttime/daytime splits, and think there must be an explanation. But that’s not the case. Sometimes, splits happen.”
Says Barnwell: “I found that the concerns about his strength of schedule in night games are marginal.”
A big game in a big game would do a lot for Schaub. He and the Texans failed to rise to the occasion in New England.
But the Monday night stakes were not, actually, that large. The Texans still have the best record in the AFC, and if they win out they’ll be the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
Sunday is a big game, because the Texans can clinch the AFC South with a win over the Colts.
But even if Houston loses, it could wind up the division winner and have good playoff position.
The fact on Schaub is this: the big-game measure will come in the playoffs.
If he plays a dud of a game in Houston's playoff opener, we can go back to all of this and say it did mean something. If he lights it up, all this will be minimized.
Is he a clutch QB? Not in the context of his peer group, no.
But the idea of “clutch QB” is something we should constantly work to deconstruct. It’s a nice storyline, but it’s not always real. Good quarterbacks tend to also be good at what we regard as clutch moments. And bad quarterbacks tend to also be bad at those times.
I refer you back to this September column, I wrote: On Matt Schaub and the clutch question.
Schaub is about to have a bunch more chances to alter his image. And when the Texans’ season is over, we’ll be better able to distinguish how good he is. Or isn't.