Had a good Twitter discussion Sunday night with some angry fans who cannot be convinced that Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub is better than his backups. During it I realized one thing: there is a difference between being a great quarterback and playing great during a playoff run.
There are certainly better quarterbacks in the league than Schaub, even after the four indisputably elite ones (Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers). But there are also many more who are much, much worse. Schaub's pick-six was the most costly play of the week, but he's inconsistent, which means he has great games, terrible ones and a lot sprinkled in between. Manning made his flappable offensive line unimportant in Indianapolis and Brady makes mediocre receivers produce. Outside the top four, quarterbacks need help. Schaub's pick was costly, but there was more that went wrong during the Texans' 23-20 loss to Seattle.
I made the point in my post-game entry last night that Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco threw five interceptions in the Ravens' 23-20 loss to the Bills. Flacco isn't a great quarterback. But he did play great during the Ravens' Super Bowl run. Does that change you as a player? His statistics this season would indicate no. Bill Barnwell from Grantland.com drew a similar comparison, using Flacco and Eli Manning as examples of players who have had dubious regular seasons, but won Super Bowls.
Barnwell took an extended look at both Schaub's Week 4 performance and his situation in the grand scheme of things.
Some key lines:
"It was Schaub's third pick-six in three weeks, but it's not like Schaub has some disease where he throws awful pick-sixes; according to Pro-Football-Reference.com, Schaub didn't throw a single pick-six in either the 2011 or 2012 seasons. He has 10 across seven seasons as the Houston starter, which isn't an egregious average."
"Pretend, for a moment, that Eli Manning and Joe Flacco had produced the same Week 4 performances this week without any notable run in the playoffs to their name. Would anybody in their right mind look at their days (or 2013 seasons, for that matter) and suggest they were good enough to win the Super Bowl? Of course not! In fact, Giants and Ravens fans would be sitting in the same parking lots saying the same things about how they needed to upgrade at quarterback to have any hope of winning a Super Bowl."
On Schaub: "he's going to need help from his team, which hasn't offered much: Arian Foster's per-carry numbers are down, as he's averaging 3.8. Andre Johnson got hurt and has missed time over the past few weeks. The team has already been without elite left tackle Duane Brown for the past two games, and star inside linebacker Brian Cushing missed the fourth quarter (when Seattle came back from 20-6 down to tie it up) with a concussion."
"I feel comfortable saying Schaub is good enough to win a Super Bowl, because I've seen quarterbacks who were worse than him during their season at the helm get hot during the playoffs and win the big trophy. As critical as you are of his throw (and you should be, since it was terrible), there's nothing about it that proves he can't win when it really counts in the longer term."