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The Converasation: 1+1=0?

MDC and BFD often discuss things over email. When it concerns the Texans, they turn it into a post. Today: is the Schaub-Kubiak tandem capable of winning a Super Bowl?

"So, you're saying you can't run at all? That's probably not a problem."
"So, you're saying you can't run at all? That's probably not a problem."
Bob Levey

Depending on the day, there's a good chance that either I am bothering bigfatdrunk about something over email, or he is bothering me. We're a lot like an email version of The Odd Couple. BFD is Jack Klugman in this scenario, obviously.

The problem with email, however, is that the rest of you don't get to share in our overflowing awesomeness. We also waste some quality material in those emails, and it's not fair to history to deprive the world of our wit. So, with that in mind, we've decided to turn Texans-related email exchanges into posts. (Rumors that we're lazy and this is just a cheap way for us to create posts with minimal effort are highly offensive. And probably true.)

All typos are in the original, so you should just mentally [sic] the whole thing, because I'm not editing. Your thoughts, reactions, and general idiocy are, of course, welcome in the comments below.

To: bfd
From: MDC

Subject: The Converasation: 1+1=0?

Since the Ravens won the Super Bowl (*cough*FRAUD*cough*), I've heard or read a number of people saying that Joe Flacco's win proves that Matt Schaub can definitely win a Super Bowl. After all, in terms of regular season production, if you compare Flacco to Schaub's Houston years, Schaub looks slightly better overall.

Flacco: 80G, 60.5% comp, 17633 yds, 102 TD, 56 INT
Schaub: 80G, 65.1% comp, 20911 yds, 114 TD, 64 INT

(Obviously, that's shorthand, and I'm not pretending that those are the only stats that matter. Figured I should throw that in before some moron reeking of Old Bay jumped in to point out something that I left out.)

So...yeah. "Schaub can do it, too," seems to be a common refrain post-Super Bowl. And maybe, in the right circumstances, that would be true. But that idea seems to be overlooking something rather important.

I'm talking, of course, about the difference between Gary Kubiak and John Harbaugh.

What I mean is, Gary Kubiak is going to coach his system come hell or high water. See, for example, his continued (maddening, inexplicable) reliance on The Script to start every game. Unlike Shanny The Elder, from whom Gary learned, Kubiak does not tailor the basic idea of his system to fit his personnel,* with the small exception of scaling it back for T.J. Yates out of necessity.

Harbaugh, on the other hand, has continually tweaked what they do on offense to better play to Flacco's strengths and limit the number of times per season that Oh No Joe shows up. None of the changes have been mind-blowing, but that's kind of the point. The difference between an above-average coach and a very good (or better) coach is the ability of the latter to work on the margins, amplifying his team's strengths and minimizing the weaknesses. Both Harbaughs do that. Gary Kubiak does not.

I'm not even saying that Kubiak is a bad coach. I think, if he wound up with the perfect QB for him -- basically, the modern John Elway -- Kubiak could totally win a Super Bowl. And I think that, with a different coach, Schaub could totally win a Super Bowl. I just don't think that the duo of Kubiak and Schaub can win a Super Bowl together.


*Alternatively, if he does tailor his system, then all evidence points to Kubiak's not actually realizing Schaub's limitations. The overall point here still holds.

From: bfd

Subject: Re: The Converasation: 1+1=0?

Did you misspell "converasation" on purpose?

Do I think Schaub can win a Super Bowl? If you believe in the Trent Dilfer Theorem that any QB who avoids unforced errors can win, then yes. If you would've asked me the same question before the 2012 season, then yes. Asking me now? Yeesh.

Before 2012, Schaub was downright masterful at making the short to intermediate term throw, and arm-chair coaching be damned, he wasn't all THAT bad at making longer tosses. However, Kubiak demands two things from his QBs: they are at least moderately more mobile than Shaun Cody (aka a speed bump), and they can stand in the pocket. In 2012, Schaub showed neither of these qualities.

As the season progressed, it became increasingly clear Schaub no longer trusted the offensive line, and with good reason! But he also had a tendency to hit panicky idiot mode far too early in the pass rush. At times, he was David Carr-esque, aside from the hair.

What hurt most of all, however, was Schaub's lack of mobility. When we can't run a play action offense, when nobody is scared of Schaub being able to make the slightest move to free himself for a pass, Kubiak's offense simply cannot work. And play actions were not even secondary thoughts by the end of the season. No pocket presence and no mobility equals no Super Bowl with Matt Schaub. It's like math and stuff.

The scripting fetish taunts me with its stupidity.

Would the Texans be better off focusing on TJ Yates next year if, like me, you believe Schaub is done as an NFL QB? Or, do you nab a QB early in the draft as an eventual Schaub replacement in the hopefully super near-term? I hear good things about this Tyler Wilson chap.*

*Rivers McCown approved!

To: bfd
From: MDC

Subject: Re: The Converasation: 1+1=0?

I didn't misspell it on purpose, but I'm going to pretend like I did. It'll be like our Inglourious Basterds.

So you think it's less about Schaub + Kubiak and more Schaub + The Inexorable March Of Time? Interesting. Does that mean that you think Kubiak could win a Super Bowl win something less than his ideal QB? Like you said about Schaub, pre-2012, I might've said I agree, but Kubiak's refusal to adjust this season makes me doubt that answer now.

As for Schaub and his mobility, as I read your thoughts, I just kept replaying those two plays from the Patriots' playoff game in my head. You know the ones. First, he makes a nice move (relatively speaking) to avoid the rush, has five or six yards of open space ahead of him, and absolutely refuses to even try to run. Then he again avoids a rush, moving left, and forces his own fumble, perhaps because he was embarrassed about sharting himself from the sheer surprise of seeming mobile on two plays in the same game.

What I'm saying is, I can see where you might just chalk it up to Schaub being Schaub.

At the same time, it's not like Kubiak has done much in the past two years to make me think he's better than above average. Above average can win you a Super Bowl if you catch lightning in a bottle or do some other cliche, but it's not exactly what I want to build around or have to rely upon year in and year out.

Oh, plus, "Kubiak" as a concept apparently means "Joe Marciano, now and until the end of time, because special teams aren't really a thing that people should worry about."

I don't know if I'd call Schaub "done," but I absolutely, unequivocally believe that the Texans would be better off long term letting Yates run the show in 2013 and grooming a young QB for 2014 and beyond. Whether that QB is T.J. Yates or some other, as-yet-undrafted fellow is open for debate, but I'm fine with figuring that answer out rather than just having Kubiak-Schaub running the train on my 2013 fandom.

From: bfd

Subject: Re: The Converasation: 1+1=0?

Just like you can't take Case Keenum and drop him into a vertical offense and expect him to succeed with his pop-gun arm, you can't ask a non-mobile QB to run a play action offense and win. If Schaub cannot increase his mobility for 2013 - and there's little reason to think this is a realistic endeavor - then I think how Kubiak handles the QB situation is a fair benchmark for a 2014 return as head coach.

Because it's precisely his lack of recognizing problems, and adjusting, which has me most frustrated with Kubes right now. I really feel like he developed as a coach over his early years as he was adjusting and even winning the occasional challenge! But he hung with The-Defensive-Coordinator-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named for two seasons too many, and Marciano is little better. And there's the Schaub situation.

At some point, I do believe Kubiak will be a highly successful coach but only if he improves making changes when necessary. Unfortunately, I don't think he'll develop this trait with the Texans but for a different NFL team. That Marciano is still on the staff tells me our children isn't learning.