Beyond the Boxscore
The only person who had a poorer Pro Bowl performance than Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub is sideline "reporter" Doug Flutie.
At least Flutie can use the excuse of being outside of his comfort zone in his fumbled, follow-up-question-allergic interviews. Schaub is paid mighty handsomely to do this quarterback thing for a living.
And in a QB's paradise — nice weather with defenses only marginally interested at best — Schaub still managed to throw two interceptions and post a pathetic 46.2 quarterback rating. No other quarterback in the game posted anything less than an 86.5 quarterback rating and four of the six QBs were well over 100, including rookies Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson.
If AFC Pro Bowl coach John Fox had left Schaub in any longer, the Texan may have challenged Jim Hart's all-time Pro Bowl record of five interceptions. And the AFC might have lost by 50.
Is it so farfetched to wonder if Schaub just wore out? The tired arm phenomenon is not exclusive to baseball.
Now, none of this probably means anything. It is the Pro Bowl, after all. Schaub's already proven he can sling it around in this glorified exhibition. He won Pro Bowl MVP in 2010, which ranks slightly above taking home the second place ribbon in the pumpkin growing competition at a local county fair.
If Schaub receives almost no credit for that honor, he probably should not get flak for this one.
It's not like any Pro Bowl stumbles should carryover. This isn't Bobby Abreu jacking up his swing in the 2005 Home Run Derby and never being the same again. There is a long way between late January and the next game that counts for the Texans.
Still . . .
It's hard to argue Schaub look anything close to comfortable throwing the football. Especially on the deep throws he attempted in Hawaii. It's been a long year — and a good year, contrary to popular opinion — for Schaub, whose relentless offseason recovery from that crushed foot should not be discounted. He's been going pretty much nonstop from the moment he was cleared to start throwing on his own.
Maybe Schaub just needs some time to rest his arm.
A ReBorn Schaub
There is no reason to think that Schaub cannot be better in his second season after the surgery than he was in his first. And for a large chunk of the 2012 season, deep into November in fact, Schaub played like the best quarterback in the AFC.
Is it so farfetched to wonder if Schaub just wore out? The tired arm phenomenon is not exclusive to baseball. Two-time Super Bowl winner Eli Manning's been dogged by tired arm questions. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady dealt with tendinitis in his arm during the 2011 season.
In a QB's paradise — nice weather with defenses only marginally interested — Schaub still managed to throw two picks and post a pathetic 46.2 quarterback rating.
And neither one was coming off the type of all-out rehab blitz Schaub was. Yes, Schaub's injury happened to his foot, about as far from the arm as you can get. But overstress on areas not actually hurt are common in sports comebacks.
I don't buy the argument advanced by some (including Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle) that Schaub could simply get worn out by throwing a lot of passes in back-to-back overtime games. Doesn't anyone remember how much Schaub threw in the 2009 season when he completely carried the offense?
A full-strength Schaub has no trouble flinging it 50 times in a game. But when you add the rehab and the surgery recovery into the mix, it's suddenly plausible. Who knows how full strength Schaub really was?
Schaub will never make excuses though. He still dutifully showed for the Pro Bowl while Brady lamely bowed out with one of those Bill Belichick special "injuries." He threw the ball 22 times, took a sack (or at least the Pro Bowl version of one) and impressed absolutely no one.
Texans defensive end J.J. Watt gets all the bloody glory. Texans tight end Owen Daniels shows how easily he gets open. And Schaub leaves all the mindless doubters with even more ammunition.
It's sort of absurd. Again, it's the freaking Pro Bowl! If Schaub threw four touchdowns amid NBC's Hawaiian tourism scenes, he would have been ripped for excelling in games that don't matter.
Yet, is this really the last impression you want from your quarterback heading into one of the most important offseasons in franchise history?
It cannot carry over. Right . . .. right!?
It's crazy. It's reaching. But those truths won't settle anyone's stomach.