I am often asked my opinion on things that involve football. The questions range from how to find which player position best suits a child to who I think will win the Super Bowl, and pretty much everything in between. I have many thoughts on the game, on coaching, and on improving performance, so I am starting Passing Thoughts to share some of those thoughts. I welcome your comments and conversation. –KR

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Quarterbacks to Watch in NFL Week 6

Here in Week 6 of the NFL season, there is plenty to evaluate with quarterback play. We are seeing some excellent performances and some struggles for the players in this high pressure position. These are my thoughts on three who seem to be getting a lot of the headlines at this point in the season:

Matt Schaub, Houston Texans
Athletes in every sport have periods of struggles and difficult losses. Baseball players may not get a hit in multiple games, basketball players go through hot and cold shooting streaks, and golfers miss easy putts. Football players are susceptible to making mistakes and hitting a rough streak at times too.

Matt Schaub is going through one of the most difficult struggles of his football career. Schaub’s team is on a three-game losing streak, and Schaub has thrown nine INT’s on the season, taken 12 sacks, and thrown INT’s for Defensive TD’s in four consecutive games. Many have questioned why he is still the starting QB for the Texans. Coach Kubiak has demonstrated faith and confidence in Schaub, stating that Matt is the starting QB for the Texans. As a coach, he can demonstrate faith and confidence, but Schaub has to be on a very short leash. The Texans have Super Bowl aspirations, and a stretch like this can make or break their season.

Matt Schaub and the Houston Texans play the St Louis Rams this week at Houston. Look for the Texans to try and establish a run game, with short, higher-percentage passes early in the game. When a QB makes mistakes early, he begins to press and evaluate every throw. That can lead to more mental errors and poor QB play. Coach Kubiak wants to take all the thinking elements out of the game and let Schaub trust his instincts and just play.  Look for the Texans to get a win this week against a gritty Rams team, and Matt Schaub will come out of his slump with a strong performance.

Geno Smith, NY Jets       
Geno had many doubters when he was drafted by the Jets and most recently answered those doubters with a big win at Atlanta on Monday night. The true question is what can the rookie QB do on a short week preparing for an 0-4 Steelers team that will be very hungry. Geno is going to see some very difficult coverages with the Steelers defense. The Steelers are going to try and keep the Jets in passing situations and then mix up their coverages to confuse the rookie QB. When Geno has taken care of the ball and played smart football, then the Jets have been a solid football team. If Geno decides to press the issue and make plays when they are not there, then he will put his team in poor situations with bad field position and turnovers.

Look for Geno to make some mistakes today as most NFL QB's are prone to against the Steelers defense.  Can he keep his mistakes to a minimum?  His team's success will ride on that as the Steelers will capitalize on any mistakes Geno gives them.

Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
Everyone knows of Peyton Manning's QB talent, but what we have been watching in the first five weeks of the NFL season is truly amazing. Manning is on a record pace with the stats that he has put together so far. Manning seems very comfortable with any look a defense shows him, he knows where his WR's are going to be, he is showing confidence in all skilled players to throw to them at any time, and he is showing confidence to give the ball to their running backs when the defense is dropping back into coverage. The Denver offense is clicking on every cylinder, and that is great credit to Manning.

Eventually a team will find a way to get pressure on Manning with their front four defensive linemen, and they will challenge the QB. That will not happen this week against Jacksonville, but it will be interesting to see if the Broncos and Manning are able to stay sharp against a team they should throughly dominate.

There will be more ups and downs for all of these quarterbacks during the rest of the NFL season. It will be interesting to see how the story lines play out for these three who are at such different points here in Week 6.  

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