When Matt Schaub takes his rightful place as the Falcons starting quarterback today (citation needed), it’ll be a historic day for him and the franchise. It may not go well, sure, but it’ll be historic!
Schaub, a 2004 third round pick for Atlanta, was a well-regarded quarterback who was added as insurance for Michael Vick, who had played just five games in the 2003 season. Naturally, Vick would go on to miss just two games over the next three seasons, and Schaub was traded to the Houston Texans for multiple picks ahead of the 2007 season. Had he stayed in Atlanta, of course, he might have been the team’s long-term starter, because he was good enough in his prime to have held down the position admirably and certainly would’ve fared better than Joey Harrington, Byron Leftwich, and Chris Redman that year.
Today, then, marks Schaub’s third start for the Falcons. His first start in 2004 was a brutal one, with the rookie losing 26-13 to the Saints in a game where he completed just 41.5% of his passes for 188 yards, no touchdowns, two interceptions, and a dismal 4.6 yards per attempt. In 2005, however, he was pretty excellent in a 31-28 loss to the Patriots, completing just 52.9% of his passes but throwing for 298 yards, tossing three touchdowns against no interceptions, and averaging 8.8 yards per attempt. In this ostensibly high-powered offense and with a so-so Seahawks defense on deck, he ought to look a lot closer to that 2005 start than the 2004 one, though I genuinely don’t know how much he has left in the tank.
Schaub will make a bit of franchise history in another way, too. He is, as far as I can tell, only the second quarterback ever to make starts for the team, leave, and then return and make at least one other start. It’s a testament to his longevity and his sideline presence—and Schaub is going to make a hell of a coach someday—that those two stints were separated by well over a decade.
The other quarterback? The immortal Billy Joe Tolliver, who started nine games for Atlanta from 1991-1993 in relief of the notoriously injury-prone Chris Miller, and then re-joined the Falcons in 1997 and started another seven games. Fittingly, both Schaub and Tolliver had a stint in Houston before returning to Atlanta, though Schaub’s was longer, more successful, and was with the Texans, not the Oilers.
Wish Schaub well on his history-making today, and let’s see if he returns again to become the team’s quarterback coach down the line.