Baltimore Ravens: Matt Schaub Continues to Struggle


The Baltimore Ravens hit the jackpot when they used the 18th pick in the 2008 NFL Draft on Delaware quarterback Joe Flacco. He was the NFL Rookie of the Year in ’08 and set the team records in career passing yards and touchdown passes by just his third season. He was perfect as he led the Ravens to their second Super Bowl title. He has done it all in his NFL career and more importantly, he has never missed a game since entering the league.

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Flacco has been a model of durability in his seven seasons, starting all 16 games in each of those years. The streak of 112 regular season consecutive starts is sixth-longest for a quarterback in NFL history, and he should pass Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Fame quarterback Ron Jaworski after the fifth game this season. He also has 15 starts in playoff games for a combined total of 127 starts. Eli Manning (178) and Philip Rivers (153) are only active players with more consecutive starts than Flacco.

It’s a fantastic achievement for the Ravens franchise quarterback, but the reality is this is football. At some point Flacco is going to go down with an injury and John Harbaugh will be forced to go with his backup plan. For this season, if Flacco should be forced to miss time for any reason, the Ravens will turn to veteran Matt Schaub.

Baltimore gave Schaub a $2 million salary this season to be the backup and the Ravens were thankful to have a veteran presence behind Flacco in the event the worse case scenario arises that Flacco is hurt. The problem is his play thus far in training camp has been downright awful to say the least.

This is not a good start for a player that many felt was already on the decline because of the number of turnovers he has committed over the past few years. After spending seven season as the Houston Texans starter, Schaub is now on his third team in as many years. He was the backup in Oakland to rookie Derek Carr last year and threw just 10 passes, two of which were intercepted.

There was a six-day period in which Schaub threw a total of nine interceptions during minicamp practices, more than the entire Ravens secondary accounted for a season ago. This all comes after an even more disappointing showing at organize team activities earlier in the offseason.

“I feel really good,” Schaub told reporters following Monday night’s practice. “There’s a comfort level within the offense, but I’m still working to get to know the guys and get a feel with the receivers and how they run all the routes.”

So while Schaub candidly blames his receivers for his struggles and continues to disappoint the people looking in on the outside, Harbaugh is defending his backup quarterback.

“I’m going to defend Matt a little bit, because Matt had some unbelievable throws out here today. Matt had a good day today, but there’s going to be interceptions,” Harbaugh said. “That’s going to happen in practice. I’m pretty fired up about our defense making a few plays, too. But I feel great about Matt Schaub as a backup quarterback.”

Schaub comes in as the first veteran backup at quarterback since the Ravens signed Marc Bulger in 2010. Tyrod Taylor was the backup the last four years, but is now in Buffalo competing for the starting job for the Bills. Taylor is the mobile quarterback fueled with a strong arm. Schaub is the opposite with the traditional drop back approach.

“Tyrod Taylor was just the kind of backup quarterback we wanted. Why? Because he’s a good player. [He’s a] totally different quarterback than Matt,” Harbaugh said. “Matt is a heck of a backup quarterback, because he’s a good player, and we feel comfortable that Matt can win for us.”

Why? If the Raiders trusted a rookie with their franchise – albeit a player who looks to have serious potential- then what makes the Ravens believe that Schaub is the answer should something happen to Joe? What does Harbaugh see that we have not all seen over the past few seasons?

A few weeks ago, Marc Sessler of ranked every team’s backup quarterback and he had Schaub listed as the 24th of all the No. 2 quarterbacks. Sessler has his sandwiched between Brock Osweiler and T.J. Yates. He’s got him behind Kellen Clemens, Brandon Weeden and Drew Stanton to name just a few. So again, why is everyone so confident about Schaub?

The Ravens are on the hook for the $2 million guaranteed owed to Schaub, but other options should be on deck if he continues to struggle. Michael Vick is still a free agent and brings many of the traits that Harbaugh liked about Taylor. Tarvaris Jackson is another name with similar talents. The name out there that is intriguing as a backup is Kyle Orton. He has fared well as a backup previously and is not a throwing machine to opponents.

The Ravens have been unbelievable beneficiaries to Flacco’s health and their Super Bowl dreams revolve around their top guy. If anything were to happen to Flacco – knock on wood – prepare for a year of misery and the season ending much sooner than the Ravens accustomed to.

The hope is that Schaub never has to see the field during the regular season donning a Ravens jersey unless it’s in mop-up duty. If for some reason Schaub is asked to play extensively, it is going to be a long season of watching defenses celebrating every turnover.

Next: Breakdown of the Ravens Schedule

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