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A little about Schaub, Ryan and Yates and what to expect Sunday
Some nifty little tidbits about alot of things that haven't been emphasized.
Ryan reaches out to Texans QB Schaub
November 30, 2011
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- They grew up 10 miles apart in Philadelphia, played for ACC schools, have mutual friends and have both started at quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons.
Sunday would have been the first time that Matt Ryan and Matt Schaub would have played against each other. Instead, the Falcons will face Houston's third-string quarterback, T.J. Yates, a metro Atlanta native, on Sunday. Schaub is out for the year with a foot injury and the Texans' No. 2 Matt Leinart also is out with a broken collarbone.
With one hot and one a neophyte, the quarterback position will be a focus on Sunday when the Falcons (7-4) visit the Texans (8-3).
When the news of Schaub being placed on season-ending injured reserve broke two weeks ago, Ryan was attending a charity event at a bowling alley hosted by teammate Harry Douglas. Ryan saw the news scrawl across the television and when he got home, he sent Schaub a text.
Schaub played high school football against Ryan's older brother in suburban Philadelphia, and Ryan remembers seeing Schaub play at West Chester (Pa.) East High a number of times.
Their connections extend beyond growing up in the same area. Former Falcons wide receiver Brian Finneran, who played with both Schaub and Ryan in Atlanta, traveled to the Houston area with Ryan and former Falcon and current Dallas Cowboys linebacker Keith Brooking to participate in a charity golf tournament that Schaub hosts. Schaub was Michael Vick's back-up with the Falcons before Atlanta traded Schaub to Houston for draft picks.
Ryan said he was "just bummed" for Schaub.
"That's what I said to him," Ryan said. "He was having a great year, their team was having a great year. 'Keep your head up. Everybody goes through that.'
Schaub's response: 'Yeah, it still sucks.'
"I said, 'I hear ya.'"
It also sucks for the Texans (8-3), who were considered by some the top team in the AFC before Schaub was injured. This will be their first game with Yates, who is out of North Carolina and Marietta's Pope High, as the starter. With five games left, Houston holds a two-game lead over Tennessee for first in the AFC South.
"It's a blow, guys, when you work so hard," Houston head coach Gary Kubiak said of losing Schaub, who had surgery on Wednesday morning to repair the broken foot. "We've adjusted to those things and that's why we're where we're at this year."
On the opposite sideline, Ryan is having some of his best success as a pro. The Falcons have won five of six and he has posted quarterback ratings of 100 or better in four of those games.
Ryan said he can't fathom what it must be like for Yates to try and start without the benefit of many snaps during the season or even minicamp or offseason team activities, which the lockout wiped out.
"You know what, I don't want to sound arrogant saying that, but I really haven't been put in that situation," Ryan said. "I imagine it's a tough spot to be in, but they'll have him prepared."
Much of Ryan's success has come in the Falcons' no-huddle offense. It prevents the defense from substituting and limits the defenses the opposition can call.
Ryan said by this time in the season, much of the team's playbook is exhausted so he will have to examine his tendencies from now on. "Absolutely, in the no-huddle you have a great opportunity to kind of take a look at what people are doing," Ryan said. "I've got a laundry list of things I like to call, and now it's time to up that and start doing stuff off of that."
Ryan said another advantage of the no-huddle is that it helps the offense to control the tempo and can force defensive linemen to hold their stances for a prolonged period, which can tire them out. But that can cut both ways.
"The ability to change tempo and hold defensive linemen in their stances for twenty, thirty seconds, those big guys get tired," Ryan said. "I know our offensive line (complains) about it all the time. They don't want to be down in the stance for twenty-five, thirty seconds. With that said, we've got the ability to go at a lot of different tempos and that's one of the things we like about it."
Kubiak, a former quarterback himself, said Ryan "makes good decisions."
"I know he's been running a lot of no-huddle stuff which tells you how much confidence they have in him handling the game at the line of scrimmage," Kubiak said.
So the difference between Ryan and Yates is stark. Kubiak said that Yates started getting more reps last week when he was the back-up to Leinart. But he also has gained experience in other ways. After he was drafted, Yates traveled to Houston and worked out with Schaub.
Yates said that experience was invaluable.
"It helped a ton," Yates said. "At that point, it was me, Matt and Dan Orlovsky at Rice (University) three or four times a week. The best thing about Schaubie was he never hesitated to stay extra or come out on an off day. He was always teaching me something the whole time we were there. In training camp, he never hesitated to help me learn something or let me pick his brain about anything he does. It has helped tremendously in me learning this offense."
Kubiak praised Yates' poise, as he was thrown into the game during a two-minute drill. Yates said at that point the game was going "100 miles an hour" for him and that "there wasn't much calm going on" on his part.
The Texans now have to hope that all of the extensive quizzing and non-rep preparation time will pay off for Yates.
"He's a young man we've got a good five months invested in," Kubiak said. "He's picked things up quickly. He's being forced into a tough role right here. He's worked extremely hard for his opportunity. We need to play well around him."