Schaub on pace for historic season

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Quarterback Matt Schaub is on pace for 4,741 passing yards and 37 touchdowns this season.

If Matt Schaub keeps up his early-season play, he'll finish with one of the best seasons for a quarterback in NFL history.

He currently leads the NFL in passing yards (2,074) and touchdown passes (16) and has already tied David Carr's franchise record for touchdown passes in a single season.

Over 16 games, Schaub is on pace for 4,741 passing yards and 37 touchdowns.

To put those numbers in perspective, the yardage total would be the seventh-highest in NFL history. Dan Marino, who ranks sixth on the list, threw for 4,746 yards in 1986. Schaub's projected touchdown total would rank ninth all-time, just two touchdowns shy of tying Daunte Culpepper (2004) and Brett Favre (1996 MVP season) for sixth.

Since 2000, only Drew Brees (2008), Kurt Warner (2001) and Tom Brady (2007) have had more than 4,741 passing yards in a season. Brady (2007), Peyton Manning (2004) and Culpepper (2004) are the only players with more than 37 touchdown passes.

"I think me doing what I've been doing this season is a result of 11 guys in the huddle getting their job done and playing at a high level… guys making plays down the field, guys blocking up front, backs in protection," Schaub said. "If we didn't have those guys doing their job and doing what they do, then I wouldn't be able to go out and complete passes and move the football and score points."

Warner, Brady and Manning all won the NFL MVP award in their aforementioned seasons. Brees and Culpepper earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors.

Schaub, who recently was voted No. 10 on ESPN.com's MVP watch list, is playing his way into those conversations.

"He's very calm," Bills coach Dick Jauron said on Wednesday. "I think he does a great job of reading the field, a great job with his eyes. He clearly knows what's happening. He's got the complete confidence and comfort with the system, and then he's got talented players with him. He's playing at a very, very high level right now."

In the Texans' Week 7 victory over San Francisco, Schaub was 20-of-30 for 264 yards with two touchdowns. It's a testament to how well he has played that those numbers are now pedestrian for him.

But Schaub did what he needed to for the Texans to win, not throwing an interception and avoiding several sacks in the game.

"We've got so much confidence in him right now, and I think the game he played last week might be as good a game as he's played, the way he avoided sacks and threw the ball away, kept the team out of harm's way in some tough situations," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "I just want him to manage the game, (but) obviously he gives us a chance to make big plays."

{QUOTE}One of the biggest factors in Schaub's early-season success is, quite simply, his ability to stay on the field. A series of injuries, several that were caused by illegal hits, caused him to miss 10 games over the last two seasons.

He showed flashes of his potential in those two seasons, particularly when he returned from an MCL injury at the end of last season and led the NFL in passing yards in the month of December.

"I think if he'd been able to play all the games in the past, this is something that he would've done already," wide receiver Andre Johnson said. "He's finally playing every game, and hopefully we can keep him for all 16. I don't want to jinx him or anything, but I think as long as Matt's healthy and we can protect him, Matt's going to be one of the top quarterbacks in the league."

Schaub also has done a much better job protecting the football this season. He has five interceptions and hasn't lost any fumbles. Through seven games last season, he had 11 turnovers – eight interceptions and three fumbles. He had eight turnovers at this point of the 2007 season.

"He's doing some good things this year, and to me, the key to him becoming a great player is not only doing those things but protecting the football as he does them," Kubiak said. "He's off to a good start, and hopefully we can keep it going."

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Schaub's season has been how well he has played on the road. In three games away from Reliant Stadium, he's averaging 373 passing yards and three touchdown passes per game.

He'll have a new challenge this week, playing in the swirling wind of Ralph Wilson Stadium at Buffalo. The Bills have forced 10 turnovers in the last two games.

"Matt has handled adverse conditions very, very well," Kubiak said. "We'll see... You never know what's going to happen there weather-wise.

"I think he's got great command of what we're doing. His composure with these game plans that we're putting together for him, we ask a lot of him mentally. It's easy for him. To go from being a good quarterback to being a great quarterback is when you get so comfortable with what you're doing that you can help the rest of the team do their job. That's where he's at right now. He's heading in that direction."

Follow Nick Scurfield on Twitter at *twitter.com/NickScurfield or find him on the "I'm A Texan Club" at imatexan.com/profiles/Nick_Scurf/*.

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