Analysis

Houston Texans' Matt Schaub looks to overcome adversity

HOUSTON -- You can take the burning of Matt Schaub's jersey in a parking lot. You can add the situation involving a trespasser at Schaub's own home that prompted the quarterback to contact NFL security. Include the booing, too. And the jeers.

And mix it all together.

And what you have -- this concoction of criticisms in the wake of four consecutive games with interceptions returned for touchdowns -- won't come close to the power of the eight words spoken by Texans coach Gary Kubiak on Wednesday.

Was it an easy decision to keep Schaub as his starter for this week's game against the Rams?

"No, it was a tough decision," Kubiak said. "Real tough."

In other words, the leash is now short. Real short. And the Texans quarterback, who threw for 4,004 yards and 22 touchdowns just last season, might be on the brink of being replaced by T.J. Yates if he can't curtail his interception issue.

It's a fascinatingly frustrating turn for the promising quarterback's career. After all, even those who've doubted Schaub's championship potential must admit his early-season woes are a bit surprising. No quarterback had ever thrown interceptions returned for touchdowns in four consecutive games -- until Schaub did just that last week.

Perhaps most alarming isn't simply that Schaub is making these critical mistakes -- but also that his coach says the team has no idea why it's happening.

"I can sit here and we could go through every interception, they're all different," Kubiak said. "They're three-step drops, five-step drops, first reads, second reads. I can't sit here and say that there's some specific pattern. If there was, I would say we're sure as hell not going to do this anymore."

When a problem is without clear explanation, sometimes the only resolution in a coach's mind is to make a change, which is exactly what Kubiak will consider doing Sunday if Schaub struggles once again against the Rams.

Of course, there might still be one other escape plan that provides help, even if temporary, against the Rams: Run the ball. As guard Wade Smith said Friday, the Texans are a team that prides itself in implementing an offense that isn't susceptible to turnovers. That means plenty of running. And plenty of play action.

Considering the Rams have been especially susceptible to giving up big yards on the ground -- they allowed 193 yards to the Cowboys and 219 yards to the 49ers -- it seems only logical that Kubiak will take the ball out of Schaub's hands and put it into running back Arian Foster's hands instead.

Eventually, however, even if Foster can help the Texans end a three-game skid by getting the team back to .500, Schaub will need to do something to boost his fledgling confidence, particularly in the fourth quarter.

During the last three consecutive losses, compared to the season's first two wins, the Texans are scoring nearly 20 points fewer and nearly 100 yards fewer per game. And Schaub's efficiency in the fourth quarter is 29.8 points lower than it is in the first three quarters.

So while Kubiak said this week that it was a "tough decision" to keep Schaub as the team's starter heading into Sunday's game against the Rams, one more rough outing might unfortunately make this decision much, much easier.

Follow Jeff Darlington on Twitter @JeffDarlington.

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