Schaub making Texans look good
Quarterbacks who take a lot of hits won't last, even if they aren't getting sacked every time, Mike Sando writes.
The Houston Texans' running game has been stagnant without Ahman Green. Injuries are preventing the team's best player, receiver Andre Johnson, from playing freely. Veteran center Steve McKinney suffered a season-ending knee injury three weeks into the season.This is a team with issues, but protecting the quarterback is not one of them. Opponents are hitting Matt Schaub once every 20 pass attempts, giving Houston the lowest rate of any team in the league. It's one of the surprises of this young NFL season. The Texans consider it a reminder that protecting the quarterback starts with the quarterback protecting himself. "He has to be a guy who makes quick decisions and gets rid of the ball," offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said. "Some guys have no anticipation. Tom Brady does, Brett Favre does and I think Schaub is getting to be that way." Sherman knows a quarterback can't prove much in five games. Defenses adjust once they become familiar with a young passer's tendencies. Schaub will face new challenges that way. But in considering the available indicators for evaluating an unproven quarterback's potential, the ability to make correct decisions quickly ranks near the top. No franchise knows this better than the Texans do. David Carr absorbed a league-high 249 sacks as Houston's starter from 2002 through last season. Sacks tell one part of the story. Quarterback hits tell another. League stat crews began tracking QB hits last season, counting every time a defender knocked a quarterback off his feet. In 2006, a shared sack resulted in one QB hit. This season, a shared sack counts as two hits. Other small changes have broadened the definition, but the Texans have still reduced their hit numbers dramatically. The category remains unofficial, but it's helpful in determining how quickly quarterbacks process information, and which ones could be more vulnerable to injuries than even sack numbers might suggest. Quarterbacks who take a lot of hits won't last, even if they aren't getting sacked every time. St. Louis and Detroit have taken the most hits this season, 29 apiece. The Rams lost quarterback Marc Bulger last month. The Lions' Jon Kitna took eight hits from Washington last week. Schaub has taken eight hits all season, fewest among quarterbacks with five games played. Carr took 18 hits during the first five weeks last season, even with a bye week.