Matt Schaub's success vs. pressure

Houston QB shows why many teams don't know when to blitz

Originally Published: October 24, 2012
By Peter Keating | ESPN Insider
Matt SchaubBrett Davis/US PresswireMatt Schaub has been terrific against the blitz and against standard pressure this season.

Of all of the reasons the Houston Texans destroyed the Baltimore Ravens last weekend, re-establishing themselves as one of the NFL's best teams, here's a key, underappreciated factor, courtesy of Total Quarterback Rating: You can't beat Matt Schaub with the blitz, and you can't beat him by avoiding the blitz.

Heading into Sunday, Schaub's QBR against four or fewer pass-rushers was 71.6, which is pretty good. (QBR rates quarterbacks on a scale from zero to 100 according to how much they contribute, play by play, to their teams' chances of winning. You'll find a full explanation here.) Against five or more pass-rushers, his QBR edged up to 75.2. And against blitzes involving a defensive back, it was down by just a few points, to 68.1. Last season, Schaub's numbers in those situations were also remarkably steady: 70.5, 70.7 and 68.6.

That kind of consistency is unusual: Schaub is the only NFL quarterback whose QBR figures against regular pressure, blitzes and secondary blitzes are all within 10 points of one another in each of the past two seasons. And it's extremely valuable.

Peter Keating is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, where he covers investigative and statistical subjects. He started writing "The Biz," a column looking at sports business from the fan's point of view, in 1999. He also coordinates the Magazine's annual "Ultimate Standings" project, which ranks all pro franchises according to how much they give back to fans. His work on concussions in football has earned awards from the Deadline Club, the New York Press Club and the Center for the Study of Sport in Society.