In recent weeks, fans have had a flurry of reactions to the performances out of Matt Schaub and the recently injured Kurt Benkert. Many fans bemoaned Schaub’s horrid performance in the Hall of Fame game and wondered aloud if Benkert would seriously challenge to be the backup QB for 2019. While his recent placement on injured reserve has settled that question, it probably wasn’t really a legitimate question to begin with.
Schaub’s improved performance in the game against the Dolphins has calmed some fears, though many fans still wonder if it’s worth looking for a “better” option. Like it or not, it is highly unlikely the Falcons are going to move on from Matt Schaub this year.
It’s not time to find the future at QB
I’ve seen this argument come up on twitter and here at the site. In fact, I’ve seen it for the past several years. Once Matt Ryan passed 30 years old, fans began openly wondering if the team should find the next QB of the future to groom on the bench behind Ryan (á la Aaron Rodgers behind Brett Favre).
Here’s the thing, though — Matt Ryan isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. He’s still just 34 years old, and as we’ve seen from some other older QBs, he could still play four to five more years if not longer. The problem with finding a QB now is that you will end up having to sign them to a new contract well before Matt Ryan may call it quits. Ideally, whoever does ultimately replace Matty Ice would be brought in when Ryan is within one or two years of retirement. That would give you two to three years of a QB on a rookie contract, allowing you to absorb some of the heavy dead money Ryan will cost when he does ultimately retire.
Matt takes care of himself and is arguably in the best shape of his career. If he keeps it up, there’s no reason to think he can’t play at a high level into his early 40s. Trying to find “the future” at QB now is way too early. Let’s have that conversation in another several years.
Steady and reliable is all we need
Back to Schaub. We all know that if Ryan does go down for any extended period of time, things are going to be rough. However, Schaub has started in this league before. He was a long-time starter with Houston and played at a relatively high level while he was there. If Ryan goes down (knock on wood), Schaub has been there before. The NFL speed will not overwhelm him. He won’t be lost. He’ll know exactly what to do and how to do it.
A rookie or a younger player may be more exciting and have a much higher ceiling, but Schaub is the kind of QB that can give you steady and reliable performance. He’s not going to light things up, but he’s also not going to make a lot of bone-headed mistakes either. With Schaub on the field, the team will likely have a decent shot of still winning a few games. With a rookie or a younger player with no experience, it will be a complete toss-up.
I do think we’re in the last year of seeing Schaub with the Falcons. As one of the oldest backup QBs in the league, you have to think he’s inching closer and closer to retirement. But while we have him, let’s appreciate what a boring veteran QB can bring to the table. While we may want the flash and glitter of a player with a high ceiling, Schaub is the kind of backup we need right now.