Rusty Schaub Replaces Totaled Carr

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March 22, 2007
Rusty Schaub Replaces Totaled Carr

by Bob Hulsey

What is it with the Texans and second round draft choices? Gee, the last time we tried keeping one, it turned out okay. I think the guy we took has a future in pro football. But dang if the Texan front office thinks otherwise. I thought it was just Charley Casserly who was The Grinch That Stole Draft Day. Looks like some of it rubbed off on the new regime too.

Remember the old saying "Be careful what you wish for…". The David Carr-haters who have vociferously laid the blame for a failed franchise at the feet of the $35 million dollar quarterback will have to find somebody else to boo this fall.

Carr is going to be moved to some other NFL locale, maybe Oakland or Cleveland or (gasp) Jacksonville now that Michael Vick’s understudy is the New Kid In Town.

Meet Matt Schaub. Over 6-feet-5-inches tall and weighing more than 240 pounds, he’s the new quarterback Gary Kubiak has found to replace the Golden Child. After being the starter for three years at the University of Virginia, this third-rounder has mostly carried the clipboard the past three seasons in Atlanta. His numbers in limited action have been ordinary but he has built something of a cult hero status in Atlanta and in most other cities where you find people disgruntled with the quarterbacking. Now, Kubiak thinks Schaub’s ready to step out of the sidelines and into the fire.

Schaub was acquired for a pair of second-round choices, the one we owned for 2007 and the one we owned for 2008. In addition, the Texans agreed to swap places in the first round with the Falcons, dropping from eighth overall to tenth.

This makes four years out of five that the Texans have discarded their second round choice in the NFL draft, dealing their 2004 pick to Tennessee in the infamous Jason Babin trade and surrendering their 2005 pick to Oakland in the equally heinous Phillip Buchanon trade. Barring another swap, the Texans will now be spectators in the second round for 2007 and 2008. Let’s hope Schaub proves to be a better investment.

With as much as was given up to bring Schaub to Houston, it leaves no chance that he won’t be the Texans’ starting quarterback this fall nor does it leave any doubt that Carr is leaving.

Sad, in a way. Carr brought such hope to Houston as the face of a brand new franchise with a new stadium, new uniforms, a new owner and a naive swagger that faded with time. To me, he’ll always be the wide-eyed kid that walked out of his own and his franchise’s first-ever regular season NFL game with a victory over the hated cross-state rival on national television. That can never be taken away from him.

But like the child star that must succumb to adolescence, Carr’s growing pains were awkward to say the least. Too many of those pains were inflicted by 300-pound linemen with malicious intents. So many, in fact, that not even quarterback-guru Kubiak could apparently salvage him.

What is perplexing (and angering, to be honest) is why the Texans extended Carr’s contract on the three-year option unless they were absolutely sure they had the right man for the job. Now, he’s another huge salary cap write-off while we watched the guy who SHOULD have been his natural heir winning Rookie of the Year honors for our division rivals.

So, instead of sticking with their man and going through another season with a pricey Carr at the helm or basking in the glow of hometown hero Vince Young’s magic at Reliant Stadium after taking him first overall last spring, the Texans turn to a guy of third-round ability that has been sitting in the showroom for the past three years, virtually untested, as the franchise’s new savior. Make no mistake, Schaub will need to produce in a hurry.

ESPN’s Len Pasquarelli had this to say about Kubiak’s failure to develop Carr:

"No matter how many good things Kubiak said about Carr, the words were always going to ring hollow because the new coach could never be held culpable for an expensive decision gone bad… Kubiak could jettison the quarterback and maintain a sense of personal impunity."

But Kubiak won’t get a pass when it comes to developing Matt Schaub. By giving up the equivalent of first-round value to acquire him, Schaub is now Gary’s guy and if Schaub does not show an improvement over what Carr delivered last year, Kubiak’s own tenure in Houston could be very short.

From the scouting reports, it appears as if Schaub has good touch and accuracy with short passes. That’s a good thing because the way the Texans block, he’ll never get the chance to throw deep. It would be a waste of time now to look for a deep-threat type of #2 receiver in the draft. The line can’t hold a block long enough for him and Schaub couldn’t get it there anyway.

Be ready for an offense that dinks and dunks just like with Carr at the helm only, hopefully, with better precision. I forsee an offense that will look less like the Broncos and more like the Patriots. Hmmm. Perhaps Brady Quinn wouldn’t have been such a reach after all.

I have reservations that Schaub will be able to run the bootlegs and play-actions that were a staple of the Bronco offense when Jake Plummer was running it. Had Plummer found his way to Houston, I think you would have seen the play-calling develop differently than it will under Schaub.

For what it’s worth, my early impression of Schaub is that he’s a taller and slightly less mobile version of Sage Rosenfels, the current back-up. The good news is that the playbook will not have to change depending on who is under center. Both players will be alike. Only Schaub will now have the burden of leading the Texans from the wilderness while Sage can sit back comfortably and twiddle his broken thumb.

As for Houston’s favorite pinata, I wish the best for David Carr. He’s absorbed more punishment here than a Yugo with no shocks racing through our notoriously potholed streets. He deserved better, but at least he made a lot of money for his pain. May he resurface somewhere that might appreciate him better.

Bob Hulsey intends to come down hard on any posters who can’t spell "Schaub" much the way he did for posters who couldn’t spell "Pettitte". You’ve been warned.

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