The Houston Texans' season has ended at the hands of the AFC's Super Bowl representative in each of the past two seasons. If the Texans are going to get over the hump this season, they need quarterback Matt Schaub to stand toe-to-toe with the likes of Tom Brady and Joe Flacco.
"We know that from our standpoint there was definitely stuff that we left on the table last year," quarterbacks coach Karl Dorrell said via the Texans' official website Monday. "I think (Schaub is) ready to take it up a notch going into 2013. If you're an elite player in this league, you're able to be a crunch-time player. I know Matt's really right there; he's on the cusp of being one of those players."
Beneath Dorrell's optimism is the underlying notion that Schaub has reached a crossroads in his NFL career. He regressed in a major way down the stretch last season, tossing only four touchdowns in his last six games. By the time he was severely outplayed by Brady in the AFC Divisional Round blowout loss, Schaub was nothing more than a glorified game manager.
It's no coincidence that Dorrell cited Schaub's need for improvement in crunch time. The nine-year veteran has only 12 game-winning drives under his belt. To put that number in perspective, Andrew Luck led the Indianapolis Colts on seven game-winning drives as a rookie.
Schaub has been competent enough to prevent the Texans from actively searching for an alternative at quarterback. That might change if he holds the offense hostage in the postseason for the second consecutive season.
Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.