As one of two starting NFL quarterbacks in football-crazed Texas, Matt Schaub is under the microscope. But if not for the March 22 trade that sent him from Atlanta to Houston, Schaub would really be feeling pressure.
That’s because instead of trying to turn the Texans into winners, Schaub would be replacing felon Michael Vick as the leader of the Falcons.
“I’m excited,” said Schaub, who started just two games during three years as Vick’s understudy. “It’s a great opportunity for me and one that I have to take advantage of.” Coach Gary Kubiak, who backed up Hall of Fame passer John Elway in Denver from 1983 to 1991, certainly can relate.
“Matt’s a very composed young man,” Kubiak said of the 26-year-old former Virginia standout.”One thing I really like about him is that he’s a very human kid. He makes mistakes. He’ll … take a mistake right in the chops, say, ‘Hey, that’s me, guys, let’s get this fixed.’ I just like the way he operates.”
Some Texans were critical of the laid-back approach of Schaub’s predecessor, David Carr, who never fulfilled the promise that made him the top pick in the 2002 draft. Center Steve McKinney likes his new quarterback, who made a point of calling several teammates to introduce himself after the trade.
“You have to step in that huddle with confidence,” said McKinney, who broke in with a confident rookie quarterback named Peyton Manning in Indianapolis in 1998. “That makes the guys around you believe in you. When guys believe in you, they follow you.”
Schaub’s teammates followed him for 27 points on his five series in his first three preseason games. He completed 24 of 33 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns and scored on a 5-yard run.
“I definitely like where we are heading,” McKinney said.
And when he returns to Atlanta on Sept. 30, Schaub surely will be thankful to be dressing in the visiting locker room instead of its home counterpart in the Georgia Dome.