You’re a two-time Pro Bowl quarterback but your public existence is now entirely defined by your mysterious gift for throwing pick sixes. If you ever stumble onto Twitter, you know you’ve become a national punchline. Even in training camp, the story was your own teammate, Terrell Suggs, taunting you for those accursed interceptions.
This is your life, Matt Schaub.
But if Schaub perceives himself as an embattled figure, he’s never given any indication of it. From the moment he pulled on a Ravens jersey, he’s been a solid dude—upbeat and accountable.
So it was hard not to feel bad for him as fate slapped him around again in Miami.
Let’s be clear, Schaub does not look like a guy who should be starting NFL games. Compared to Joe Flacco, he’s slow on the trigger and puts little zip on intermediate throws. Even on completions, he too often puts receivers in bad position to gain yards after the catch.
But that does not explain the tipped pass that hung in the air with nary a Raven in sight until Dolphins safety Reshad Jones hauled it in.
It doesn’t explain how Dolphins defensive end Derrick Shelby crashed in essentially unblocked on the next possession. Schaub could not get the ball over his outstretched hands and Shelby made an athletic play to tip the ball to himself and score. But I’m not sure how much we can blame Schaub for that pick six, his seventh (!) since 2013. The Ravens offensive line offered him scant protection on that and many other plays.
Schaub really didn’t play horribly in Miami. Take away those two tipped passes, and he completed 32 of 44 passes, all while being pummeled. His numbers would have been gaudier if the officials had not stolen a 52-yard touchdown from Daniel Brown, flagging the rookie receiver for offensive pass interference on a play where cornerback Bobby McCain lost his footing because of the muddy field.
But the good will be lost in Schaub’s larger tragicomedy and the fact that, his fault or not, the interceptions led directly to 15 points that gave Miami its winning margin.
Schaub seems like a well-adjusted person who understands he’s been blessed to make a lot of money doing a job he enjoys. He does not need my empathy. He has it anyway.