HOUSTON – Quarterback Matt Schaub(notes) signed roughly 400 autographs in a 90-minute stretch, and another 300 people were in line waiting when his time ran out during a Houston Texans fanfest in late May at Reliant Stadium.
But for all the interest in Schaub, people don't seem to be completely sold on him despite the 4,770 yards or the 29 touchdown passes he threw last season on the way to the Pro Bowl. Of the nearly 700 people who went through the line, less than 20 wore some type of Schaub jersey or shirt, well behind star teammates Andre Johnson(notes) and Mario Williams(notes) and even linebackers DeMeco Ryans(notes) and Brian Cushing(notes).
Some of that's on Schaub, who's not exactly Mr. Saturday Night when it comes to interviews. By his own admission, he keeps it dull.
The fourth-year starter talked about his low-key approach, the Texans' push for a first-ever playoff berth and several other subjects during an interview with Yahoo! Sports:
Jason Cole: People say you're intentionally boring and that you actually work at it. Explain why.
Matt Schaub: It's one of my traits. I don't know why exactly.
Cole: But you're not that way with your teammates from what I'm told:
Schaub: I wouldn't say I'm boring.
Cole: Maybe you wouldn't, but plenty of other people do.
Schaub: OK, I'm not one to say anything. When I'm asked questions about football and things of that nature, I'm not one to provide bulletin-board material or express a lot of myself through the media. I'm going to keep it low-key and go play the games.
Cole: Where does boring come from? Did a coach instill that? Were your parents like that?
Schaub: I think it comes from my parents and how I was brought up. Coaches have instilled some of that in me, but it's just not my nature, not my personality.
Cole: Did you ever try to be more entertaining and it backfired?
Schaub: No, not yet. There was a comment last year by one of the local reporters that I needed to be more colorful. So at one of my press conferences on a Wednesday, I wore a colorful shirt and tried to be more energetic while answering.
Cole: So the answers were the same, but you tried to act excited.
Schaub: A little bit. I tweaked the answers a little bit, but for the most part tried to be more energetic and colorful with the shirt.
Cole: Did the reporters pick up on it?
Schaub: Well, I kind of hinted at it, kind of pointed at the shirt. I don't know if they would have picked up on it if I hadn't.
Cole: We're reporters, we're not terribly bright.
Schaub: I'm not saying that now.
Cole: It's OK, you can throw us under the bus. Do you have a quarterback you model yourself around, a guy you watched when you were a kid?
Schaub: I grew up watching a bunch of different ones and you try to take bits and pieces from different guys, but you really have to become your own guy. I watched (Joe) Montana and (John) Elway growing up, those type of guys. But ultimately you have to become your own type of player.
Cole: Along those lines, the story of your career is one where you have always been competing with somebody or even sitting behind somebody waiting for a chance. You did that in college and you sat behind Michael Vick(notes) when you first got to the NFL. As a result, you've had to wait a long time to get to this point. You're 28 and going into your seventh season. Is there a lesson in that for you, a reason you can look at for why that has happened?
Schaub: I don't think there is so much a reason, but there is a lesson. From my freshman year through my sophomore year I split time with (Bryson Spinner) until he transferred and I had the job for two years. Then in Atlanta I backed up Michael Vick. Every step of the way, there were challenges and adversity that I faced that put me in those positions and even here the first couple of years with injuries and missing time. That adversity and those challenges have helped make me a better player and, in some respects, a better person because I learned so many lessons on and off the field in those situations. It just made me appreciate things a little more.
Cole: I know you weren't there when Vick got in trouble, but you got a chance to watch him as a player and see all the attention that was paid to him as a player. Even though you are a very different type of player than him, were there things that you could take away from watching him?
Schaub: Being behind Mike, it was an opportunity for me to sit back and take a lot of the preparation away from what he went through as a starting quarterback. Being as visible as he was, he was up there with the Tiger Woods, like Allen Iverson was at the time. He was a very recognizable athlete. So watching him deal with the media, deal with the fans, the coaches, how he would prepare, it was an opportunity for me to sit back and learn how I would do things when I get an opportunity. I took the things he went through on a week-to-week basis and applied that to what I would go through given the opportunity to be a starter.
Cole: Last year, you had a shoulder and an ankle injury you played through all 16 games. In the past, you weren't able to get through entire seasons because of injuries (Schaub missed five games each in 2007 and '08). Even though the injuries in the past were legit, how important was it for you to play through injuries last season?
Schaub: Quite a bit, in my mind. As long as I was able to be upright, stand there and not collapse, I was going to be out there. The same way in the previous years, if I had been able to get through it, I would have. With my knee, I wasn't able to put any pressure on it and missed four games (in 2007). Had I been able to, I would have been out there to compete. But last year, definitely, there was some of that going on. This was the year I needed to get through the year. I'm going to do this. I got the necessary treatment and had a tremendous amount of assistance in order to be out there for 16 weeks.
Cole: Yeah, but when you don't have full mobility with your ankle and left shoulder, that makes it hard to defend yourself in the pocket. How'd that work?
Schaub: Yeah, there was a little more involved in defending myself, but I had a brace on my shoulder and almost like a cast on my ankle, so that really wasn't a concern. The cast just hindered my mobility. I just wasn't able to get out of the pocket as easily as I normally was and the shoulder, it is what it is. I had a harness on it, took some shots, but you just learn to handle it.
Cole: Do defensive players really attack guys on their injured body parts?
Schaub: Oh yeah, definitely.
Cole: Anything particularly brutal?
Schaub: Nope, just the usual hits … there was none of the dirty stuff, like guys stepping on it or anything like that. Just normal hits. When guys are rushing at you, they go to knock down the pass, but as they come down, that's the first part they hit, right on the shoulder. They're not on the ground trying to twist on you. It's not like that with the linemen. There aren't many piles around the quarterback, so it would be more visible to the refs if they did do that to the quarterback.
Cole: Yeah, but there are some guys who are crazy enough to do that anyway.
Schaub: I'm just as crazy (Schaub smiles).
Cole: How's fatherhood?
Schaub: It's great, we just had an appointment …, she (is) nine weeks old (now). She got her first shots … and that was tough on momma. I had to be that calming influence.
Cole: How long did your daughter cry?
Schaub: She didn't make a peep. Serious. She's tough, I was impressed.
Cole: You came in with an interesting class of quarterbacks in 2004. Eli Manning(notes), Philip Rivers(notes) and Ben Roethlisberger(notes) were all drafted ahead of you. Do you ever compare yourself with them? Do you measure yourself against them?
Schaub: To some extent I do because I came in with all those guys and I know them all personally. They're all great guys and I knew them all through college. Rivers and I competed against each other in the ACC, a bunch of battles. So I do measure myself against them because they are three elite quarterbacks in this league. Amongst them they have three Super Bowl rings and I want to get in that, be a part of that list.
Cole: You had the 4,770 yards last year, which is a great individual achievement. But this team still hasn't had a playoff game or win. Would you trade the yards for a playoff game?
Schaub: Easily. I'd trade 2,000 of those yards for a playoff game. I'd throw for no yards if it meant we could make the playoffs. No question … making the playoffs is so hard. Just look at last year, it came down to the last week for five teams. Obviously, we needed help, but we put ourselves in position to have a chance from 5-7 to going 9-7 at the end. If a couple of things go right in Week 17, we're in. But it goes to show you how Week 1 means just as much as Week 17. I know Week 17 is so much more talked about, but those early season games mean just as much and they hurt you. When you have those close ones throughout the year, you don't know how it's going to turn out.
Cole: You have taken on more of a leadership role, having guys over to the house a lot. What other things do you do?
Schaub: Yeah, just trying to get guys together, get the team together away from these walls. We have a holiday party, whether it be Halloween or a Christmas-type party, just get guys together away from football, where you're not talking football, you're just trying to get to know each other on a personal level because that builds team chemistry. That's the stuff that helps teams become great. That's the direction we're going.
Cole: Is that natural for you or did it have to be prompted?
Schaub: I think it's just something that comes naturally. My wife is the same way. We want to be involved in as many team activities and have that tight-knit group around here.
Cole: Can you share anything about what you tell guys before games?
Schaub: It's between us (laughs).
Cole: It's really that sacred?
Schaub: Yeah, it's locker room stuff, it's huddle stuff. You don't put that out there.
Cole: Come on, even Dan Marino used to talk about stuff like that.
Schaub: When I throw for 60,000 yards, I'll let you know. Really, there's not much to tell. Guys are out there and they know what to do and they go out and do the job. But you pick and choose what you say. You don't want to be a rah-rah guy, so you pick your spots when you want to speak up and say stuff. … We have to keep things calm on offense.
Cole: Does anybody talk much on your offense? You don't and wide receiver Andre Johnson is quiet.
Cole: Is that because fullbacks aren't sure of their place in the social order of football? They want to be offensive linemen or linebackers, but they also want to touch the ball.
Schaub: Yeah, fullback gets lost in the shuffle from time to time, but he makes sure to step to the forefront. He's just loud.