Is Matt Schaub really a top ten NFL quarterback?

Levi Damien

Since the Raiders acquired Matt Schaub in trade with the Houston Texans earlier this off-season, Dennis Allen and company have been singing the praises of their new signal caller. Following the team's first OTA practice, he had this to say about Schaub.

"I brought Matt Schaub in here to be a starter," said Allen. "He's been a top 10 quarterback in this league. I think there's a lot of teams out there that would love to have a top 10 quarterback in this league. I feel like we have one so that's the way we're going right now."

It got me thinking. Where exactly does Matt Schaub stack up against his fellow starters in the NFL?

He has been the starter in Houston for seven seasons, though he was benched for part of last season. Even with his horrendous 2013 season, his career numbers are still among the better quarterbacks in the NFL.

Among starting quarterbacks with at least 1500 pass attempts, he is ranked ninth in career passer rating (89.3). That's ahead of current starters Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton, Jay Cutler, Joe Flacco, Matt Stafford, Eli Manning, Alex Smith, and Sam Bradford. The only other quarterback to not qualify for the 1500 pass minimum who showed a consistently better passer rating was Russell Wilson. This would put Schaub with the tenth highest passer rating. Right where Dennis Allen preached.

Next up is completion percentage. Schaub lands sixth among active starters with a 64% completions. This is ahead of Matt Ryan, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, Jay Cutler, Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, Alex Smith, Matt Stafford, Sam Bradford, Eli Manning, and yes Russell Wilson.

Completion percentage can often be masked by a dink and dunk offense. So it must be combined with yards per attempt and yards per completion. Schaub is currently sixth in both categories with 7.6 yards per attempt and 11.9 yards per completion. This is ahead of most all the same quarterbacks as completion percentage. Just replace Ben Roethlisberger with Drew Brees.

One of the big issues Schaub had last season was interceptions. He threw 14 of them in just eight starts. But over his career interceptions have not been a big problem for him. Even with last his disastrous 2013 season, he has the seventh lowest career interception per pass percentage (2.6%). This is ahead of the likes of Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Stafford, Andy Dalton, Carson Palmer, Jay Cutler, and Eli Manning.

Last season he was the 38th ranked signal caller according to Pro Football Focus. The only quarterbacks rated worse were Terrelle Pryor, E.J. Manuel, Geno Smith, and Chad Henne.

But prior to last season, he was consistently among the top rated quarterbacks in the league. He was twice ranked as high as 7th (2009, 2010), never ranked lower than 13th (2008), and was inside the top ten four of those six years. His average rank position between 2007 and 2012 was 9.5.

His career totals put him in the same range. Among current starters he is 9th in career passing yards (24,254) and completions (2035), and 12th is passing TD's (130). That's an average of 290 completions for 3464 yards and 18.5 TD's and 12 INT per season.

Schaub has started all 16 games in a season three times in his career - 2009, 2010, and 2012. In those seasons he has averaged 4382 yards passing with 25 TD's to 13 INT for a passer rating of 93.7. He made the Pro Bowl two of those seasons, including 2012 which means he's just a season removed from being a Pro Bowler.

So, there's no question Schaub has been a top ten quality quarterback talent in the NFL. The question is if last season was an anomaly and he can return to his career form, or if at this point in his career (33 years old) he is on an irreversible slide. The Raiders are banking on the former.

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