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Battle Red Blog Interview With Matt Schaub

Matt Schaub quietly had another great season last year.  Most people outside of Houston or fantasy football leagues didn’t realize that because he happened to play on at team that went 6-10, mostly due to the defense.  Statistically, Schaub’s numbers were down in 2010 but the success of the run game decreased his role, which is something that didn’t seem to bother him at all.  Also, it’s not easy to improve upon your statistics when you tally the sixth highest yardage total in league history the year before.

Schaub is engaged with a project run by Gatorade this week at the Super Bowl.  Matt has been paired with University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker in a mentorship role.  He was nice enough to give us a few minutes to answer some questions, the answers of which you can see after the jump.

Jake:  What exactly is it that you’re doing with Jake Locker and Gatorade?

Schaub:  I’m here in Dallas at the Super Bowl working with Gatorade and their sports science lab.  I’m helping to mentor some of the rookies about the importance of sports nutrition.  As we know, Gatorade is one of the leaders in sports nutrition and being able to fuel your body leading up to a workout or competition, as well as recovering afterward, and being able to put the right foods and nutrition in your body in order to bounce back for the next game.

In particular, I’m here with Jake Locker in the morning.  He’s going through a series of tests, and it’s pretty impressive to see what they have here and what they put the athletes through to be able to find your measureables and what your body needs to perform at its best.  I’m helping mentor Jake as he makes this transition from college to the NFL.

Jake:  Seeing part of the draft process for someone like Jake Locker, how different is it from what the process was like for you?  What were your expectations heading into the draft like what teams you thought were interested or what position you thought you might get drafted at?

Schaub:  It’s interesting.  Many teams handle things so differently.  Some teams are forthright about who they want to take and what positions they’re looking for.  For me, I kind of knew based on other quarterbacks what order I might be picked in, but as far as teams, there were so many that I talked to and so many that I didn’t that I really didn’t know.  Some teams don’t like to show their hand.  I had no idea that Atlanta was looking for a quarterback or was going to select me.  I hadn’t talked to them leading up to the draft at all and then they picked me in the third round.  It was a surprise from that standpoint, but it was a great position for me to be in.

It’s an exciting time for young players like Jake to go through this process.  You go through it one time in your life and you just have to enjoy every second of it.  The one thing I told him was that it’s not where you start but where you finish in this business.  It doesn’t matter where you’re picked or by what team.  Who knows if you’re going to be on that team for the duration of your career?  If you get to, that’s great, but a lot of times you’re going to move on to another team or two teams and so on.  It’s about how you prolong your career and how you handle yourself on and off the field.

Jake:  Nobody knows that players might switch teams better than you, given that you were traded to the Texans after flashing ability as a backup for the Falcons.  Leading up to the trade that brought you to Houston, did you have any idea that was coming or was it a complete surprise?  What was your reaction to that whole event?

Schaub:  I had an idea that that might have been the year that I moved on from Atlanta to another team because they were looking to trade me.  I knew Houston was interested, but it kind of came out of nowhere that something might really occur.  Coach [Gary] Kubiak came out to California. where I was at the time, to play a round of golf and get together to meet.  It really started to seem like it might happen for me and then it was within 24 to 36 hours that I was traded to the Texans.  It was a great transition for me and a great spot to be in and I couldn’t be happier than being in Houston and how it turned out.

Jake:  This past offseason you were reunited with Quarterbacks Coach Greg Knapp from your days in Atlanta.  What does a QB Coach do for a quarterback such as you who is past the "developmental" stage, and what difference did Knapp make this season?

Schaub:  He had a huge influence on me when I was in Atlanta making that transition from a college quarterback to a professional one.  From a learning standpoint, the Falcons' offense was very similar to what I ran in college, but he was so great at teaching the fundamentals of the position for the system that we ran.  Meeting back up with him this last year, he still has those same teachings and we have that connection already.  We already knew each other’s personalities and didn’t have to get to know each other so we just jumped right in to things last spring.

He really helped me get back to the fundamentals of the position as far as footwork, mechanics and tying things in with my feet.  We just focused on things a lot because I already knew the offense and there wasn’t much from that standpoint to teach.  It was just polishing up on those fundamentals of the position and making sure I was on top of it.  Week in and week out, he helped me watch the game film.  We would get together and it was great to have another set of eyes and ears as we prepared for game days.  He’s so valuable because of the experience that he has in this league and he’s a great addition to the staff.

Jake:  In 2010, the Texans finished in the top 5 in total offense for the second consecutive season, but the rushing offense went from third-worst to third-best in the league.  How was Rick Dennison able to make this happen?

Schaub:  As far as our scheme there wasn’t much change, it was just stressed so much more and we made some adjustments.  Rick’s knowledge of the run game that he possesses goes way back and he is experienced, which you can’t replace.  He brought those lessons from what they did in Denver when he was a coach there and bestowed that knowledge on our lineman and the rest of the guys blocking and our staff.

It wasn’t that we changed anything really.  We just did it better.  Arian emerging as a top running back in the league also helped; he was phenomenal for us.  It was amazing to see what he was able to do this year.  It was great to have that balance and it made us that much more of an effective offense across the board, especially in the red zone. 

Jake:  How did this increased ability to run the ball affect playaction?

Schaub:  It was huge for us.  We’ve always had the ability to playaction pass on teams and get our receivers down the field.  If they take those deep routes away, we’ve got guys underneath that can make plays for us.  To be able to add that running game this year and be effective at that, it just made guys bite up more on defense and allowed us to throw the ball down the field even more.  It’s something that we look to continue in the future here even more.

Jake:  What was your favorite play of 2010 and why?

Schaub:  I would think that my favorite play from this season was the game-winner against Kansas City in Week Six.  It was coming down to the wire and had been a battle all day.  They’re a good football team and to be able to extend the play and find Andre [Johnson] in the back of the end zone inside 15 seconds to play or whatever it was, that was a huge play for us.

Jake:  Lastly, what changes would you like to see, if any, and what do you see for the Texans offense in 2011?

Schaub:  I just want us to have that killer instinct that great offenses have.  We know that we can move the football.  We know that we can score points.  We want to be able to put teams away.  Even when we come from being down, we want to take the lead and not give them a chance to have the ball at the end and have a chance to win.  To have that killer instinct and close games out, that’s what I’m looking for from our offense.

By the answers to the last two questions, it seems like Schaub is not concerned with stats, just winning games in 2011.  Hopefully this is something he can make a reality.  Thanks again to Matt for giving us the interview.