For most Texans fans, the 2011 season will be remembered for finally breaking through the playoff barrier and getting into the dance. Not only did the Texans make the playoffs, they scored an impressive victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. However, the Texans suffered injuries to three key starters this season to quarterback Matt Schaub, running back Arian Foster, and wide receiver Andre Johnson. Of the three, Schaub’s injury had the biggest impact on the Texans who went 7-3 with him under center and then 3-3 with backup TJ Yates filling in. While a .500 record is respectable for a backup QB, Texans fans have to wonder how the rest of their season would have played out if Schaub had not ended up on IR.
It’s stating the obvious to say stat-wise Schaub was clearly the better QB versus Yates. Schaub’s overall QB rating was 96.8, while Yates was 80.7, again not bad for a backup QB. Both completed about 61% of their passes. Per game, Schaub averaged 248 yds, 1.5 TDs, .8 turnovers (6 INTs, 2 fumbles), and 8.49 yards per attempt (YPA). Yates’ per game stats were 158yds, .5 TDs, 1.2 turnovers (3 INTs, 4 fumbles), and 7.08 YPA. On the whole, the results of Yates games were exactly what most teams expect from a backup QB: a .500 record.
Looking at team statistics revealed some major differences between the two QBs. With Schaub under center, the Texans were averaging 27.3 points per game (PPG); with Yates, PPG nosed dived to 18.0! Schaub was sacked an average of 1.6 times per game, while Yates 2.5 times per game despite a game plan that had fewer drop backs. The defense, despite more turnovers with Yates in the lineup, averaged only slightly more points per game, 17.9 with Schaub versus 18.7 with Yates.
Looking at the Texans’ season, would it have turned out differently? In all likelihood, yes. The Texans final three games were all losses (13-28 vs CAR, 16-19 vsIND, and 22-23 vs TEN) and it is quite likely the Texans could have won all three, even the Panthers game where Yates threw two interceptions & Foster had one fumble lost. The Texans would have ended up with a 13-3 record and a first round bye in the playoffs. Then they would have hosted the Ravens who they lost to in Baltimore without Andre Johnson. Would they have beaten the Ravens? If you take the Ravens performance in the playoff game and take away two Yates turnovers, the Texans would have won convincingly. Ravens fans might disagree, but hey this is fantasy, so anything can happen!