In the wake of the Texans' disappointing end to the season, fans and media have piled criticism on quarterback Matt Schaub.
Critics have suggested the Texans won't be able to win a Super Bowl with Schaub, who is 20-8 (.714) as a starter since 2011, as their quarterback. Texans coach Gary Kubiak and numerous players have publicly come to Schaub's defense, saying that the entire team needs to play better than they did during their 2-4 finish to the season, which ended with a loss at New England in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
Texans chairman and CEO Bob McNair feels the same way.
"I don't think it's justified," McNair said Tuesday. "I think Matt had a good year, and I think all of us need to play better when the limelight is brighter. And we didn't do that. But that wasn't just Matt; we have 53 people on that team, and everybody needs to step it up. We need to step it up. I need to do better. Everybody needs to do better in this organization to get us there."
A year ago at this time, the prevailing sentiment among NFL observers was that the Texans could have been a Super Bowl team if Schaub had been healthy. Schaub suffered a season-ending Lisfranc injury in Week 10 of the 2011 season at Tampa Bay, eventually leaving rookie fifth-round draft pick T.J. Yates in charge of the offense in the Texans' inaugural playoff appearance. The Texans lost 20-13 in the Divisional Round at Baltimore despite a dominant defensive performance.
Schaub did not participate in OTAs and mini-camp last offseason as he recovered from his foot injury. After receiving medical clearance over the summer, he returned in time for training camp and started every regular-season game. Interestingly, McNair suggested the injury might have had an effect on Schaub's play in 2012.
"I think that the injury he had did slow him down some," McNair said. "He was probably in the back of his mind a little concerned about reinjuring his foot, and we certainly didn't want to see that happen. He's gonna work hard in the offseason on improving his foot speed, and I think that will happen."
Schaub made his second Pro Bowl in the last four seasons in 2012. He threw for 4,008 yards, 22 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He had a passer rating of 90.7, which ranked ninth in the NFL and fourth in the AFC.
Since becoming the Texans' starter in 2007, Schaub ranks ninth in the NFL with a 93.3 passer rating and seventh with 65.1 completion percentage.
"Matt has all the ability in the world," McNair said. "We haven't said that he was, quote, 'the best quarterback in the league.' He's certainly one of the top 10. We've said that all along and we feel that way, and he can be one of the top five. I think he has the ability to do that. He hasn't quite gotten there yet, but that's not to say that he won't get there."