(Photo by NBC News)
With Matt Schaub now taking over the Baltimore Ravens starting quarterback job, it does not look like winning ways will come knowing what the team should have seen before signing him in the spring.
In his last ten regular season games with at least one pass attempt, Schaub has thrown for 1723 yards and four touchdowns versus thirteen interceptions. In back-to-back games at home versus the Seattle Seahawks and away versus the San Francisco 49ers in 2013, he threw pick-sixes to cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Tramaine Brock. No team has won a game with him playing since September 15, 2013, and he has thrown at least one interception in his ten out of his last twelve games.
The big kicker to this is that he had been playing against second string players for the vast majority of the preseason. While backup quarterbacks like theTennessee Titans’ Zach Mettenberger were showing or teasing people into believing that they could be starters elsewhere, Schaub looked like he robbed $3 million from Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti and needed to retire. In four preseason games, Mettenberger threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns versus one interception while posting a 101.7 passer rating. Conversely, Schaub threw for 354 yards and one touchdown versus two interceptions while posting a 74.9 passer rating in roughly the same timeframe.
Now, the Cleveland Browns defense has increased its chances of succeeding by playing against one of the worst backup quarterbacks in football and the recent evidence against Schaub proves it. In each of his last two starts, both of which were in 2013, he threw two interceptions; two versus Denver and two versus Tennessee. With Denver and Tennessee respectively allowing 1.94 points per drive (24.9 points per game) and 2.01 (23.8 points per game), there might be enough hope for a defense that is slightly worse.
The Browns defense has been allowing 2.33 points per drive, 27.7 points per game, and teams to convert 42 percent of their third downs. It has also only committed sixteen sacks and intercepted quarterbacks six times all year. If you thought that was a joke, what is more laughable is that half of them solely came from arguably the most defeated and worst quarterback in football Peyton Manning.
It is not as if Schaub will play like Josh McCown did as a Chicago Bear two years ago against the worst yardage defense, the Dallas Cowboys. McCown, along with his then head coach and current Ravens offensive coordinator Marc Trestman, possibly had the best wide receiver duo in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey. With no Ravens wide receiver creating the need for extra defensive attention and rookie running back Javorius “Buck” Allen making his starting debut in place of injured starter Justin Forsett, the chances of the Browns defense being dominant will be greater.
However, the unit will be at its best if cornerback Joe Haden is successfully out of concussion protocol. Even though he has only played five games all season, there will be less pressure on the offense to carry the team. There will also be a possible option for Schaub’s greatest tendency, throwing balls to help opponents score. A team needs more points than its opponent to win and, coincidentally, both of Cleveland’s wins have come when Haden has played.
Then again, the defense may not have to do much work even with Schaub playing. With McCown, the Browns score 4.2 more points per game than with Johnny Manziel. It is a shame that “Johnny Football” became “Johnny Bench” by acting more like “Johnny Walker” during his bye week. If the Browns beat the Ravens handily, with no probable playoff future, they should just throw a party. However, inviting Manziel would be a mistake. A party should only be for people that want to be a part of a team. Why ruin the party by adding someone that will clearly choose a party over a team?