As the calendar nears November, just about every NFL team is dealing with their fair share of injuries. This season, it seems like star quarterbacks just can’t stay healthy; Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, and, more recently, Patrick Mahomes, have all gotten hurt. Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has also joined the ranks of the walking wounded, forcing Matt Schaub into action.
As a football fan, you probably remember Schaub’s name from his lengthy pro career. But when was the last time he actually started a game under center?
Matt Ryan’s ankle injury
Last weekend, Matt Ryan was sacked by Los Angeles Rams’ tackle Aaron Donald. The quarterback got up gingerly and headed to the sidelines; he would head to the locker room for evaluation and was later seen in a walking boot.
Ryan was officially diagnosed with a sprained right ankle. He returned to practice on Friday, albeit in a limited capacity, but the Falcons decided it wasn’t worth the risk. Ryan was ruled out of Sunday’s contest, meaning veteran back-up Matt Schaub would start in his place.
This will only be the second NFL game Ryan has ever missed due to injury. He sat out one contest with turf toe during his rookie year and had played in 152 straight regular season games since then.
Matt Schaub gets the start
With Ryan unable to play, veteran quarterback Matt Schaub will slot in under center. While he’s had a lengthy NFL career, it’s been a while since he started a game.
After playing his college ball at Virginia, Schaub was selected in the third round of 2004 NFL draft by the Falcons. He spent three years in Atlanta, backing up Michael Vick, before being traded to the Houston Texans. That move gave Schaub a chance to start, but things didn’t always go smoothly.
Schaub started 11 games in each of his first two seasons in Houston; he would start all 16 contests in his next two campaigns, before landing on IR in 2011. The Texans traded him to the Raiders in March 2014. They would cut him after one season.
Schaub landed with the Baltimore Ravens, signing a one-year deal as their back-up quarterback. He was forced into action after Joe Flacco suffered a season-ending injury; those two starts in 2015 were the last time Schaub started an NFL game. Schaub would rejoin the Falcons in 2016, where he has been ever since.
What will Matt Schaub do under center?
It’s always tough for a back-up quarterback to step into the action. Schaub, however, will have the deck stacked against him on Sunday.
The Atlanta Falcons offensive line has struggled to protect Matt Ryan this year and generate a push for Devonta Freeman; that’s unlikely to change this afternoon against an aggressive Seattle Seahawks defense. Schaub will be forced to make quick throws to escape the pass rush, but he won’t be able to target Mohamed Sanu, who’s now with the New England Patriots. Even with all of his experience and guile, the back-up quarterback is in for a long afternoon.
As the football cliche says, Schaub’s first job will be to avoid mistakes and keep the Falcons in the game. It’s unlikely that he can lead Atlanta to a win but, in the NFL, far stranger things have happened.