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There’s an old saying that you can tell a lot about who a person is by how they act when no one is looking.
And for Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Schaub, he’s played 17 years in the NFL because of the work he does, often when no one else is around.
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When Michael Vick was in the prime of his career in 2004, Schaub was his backup quarterback. And although he would never replace the generational talent as the starting quarterback for the Falcons, Schaub still took pride in preparing as if he was going to get the nod each week.
Schaub replaced Vick only when he was injured but because he was so prepared, the rest of the league took note. Schaub was traded to Houston Texans to become the team’s long-term starter where he ran the show from 2007-13. The Oakland Raiders then traded their 2014 sixth-round pick for Schaub only for him to be benched in favor of rookie Derek Carr.
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That marked the end of Schaub’s career as a starter in the NFL. Although he’s no longer a No. 1 quarterback for a team, he’s still one of the most valuable players to the Falcons’ franchise backing up former NFL MVP Matt Ryan.
Schaub is widely respected in the locker room and by his coaches. His position coach, Greg Knapp, has been working with him since he was first drafted by the Falcons in 2004. Knapp was Schaub’s offensive coordinator during his first stint in Atlanta. The duo reunited in 2018 when Knapp returned to the Falcons’ coaching staff where Schaub was in his third season of his second go-around with the Falcons.
If there’s anyone who can attest to the type of player and man that Schaub is, it’s Knapp.
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“He is my coaching son,” Knapp said. “He and I have a special relationship that I don’t know if I’ll ever match with anyone in the NFL. I love his integrity, his work ethic, his leadership, I love the way he understands his role and maximizes it. It’s so fun to see his work that he put in at a young age has paid off and has served him well to last this long in the NFL which is so hard to do.”
Meet the Atlanta Falcons GM Candidate
Name: Rick Smith
Current role: No current role.
Background: He was the executive vice president of football operations for the Houston Texas from 2012 to 2017. He was general manger from 2006 to 2017.
When interviewed: Friday, December 18, 2020 (Virtually)
Why he makes sense: He took over from Charlie Casserly and was responsible for all aspects of the football operation including the salary cap, which is an issue with the Falcons moving forward. He was with the Denver when they won Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII. He played at Purdue and is from Dayton, Ohio. He drafted potential future Hall of Famers J.J. Watt and D’Andre Hopkins.
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Why he doesn’t: His Texans teams were good, but not great. Houston didn’t draft a franchise quarterback during his tenure. They traded with the Falcons for Matt Schaub and from 2013 to 2017 didn’t have a quarterback. Over 12 seasons, the Texans went to the playoffs just four times and never moved past the division round. Things got messy at the end in Houston between Smith and since fired head coach Bill O’Brien in a power struggle. The Falcons must investigate this issue.
Heading into the final four games of the 2020 season, the last year on his current contract, Schaub understands he’s closer to the end of his football career than the start. Schaub signed a two-year deal worth $3.78 million in March of 2019. Schaub has started one game in his last four years with the Falcons and that came last season against the Seattle Seahawks when Matt Ryan suffered an ankle injury. He threw for 460 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the 27-20 loss.
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At the age of 39, Schaub hasn’t made any decisions as far as what his football career will look like following the season. But he has started to prepare for life after football, including a potential career in broadcasting.
“I don’t know if it will be the path I take, I just know I want to be around the game,” Schaub said.
When Schaub isn’t playing football or spending time with his five kids, he’s been getting broadcast reps in. Shaub does a college football preview segment for FOX 5’s ‘Early Birds’ show every Saturday morning during the season at 8:30 a.m. He also co-hosted a podcast this offseason with Doug Flutie and Meggi Hetzel.
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Where Schaub feels he’s most valuable is his ability to break the game down and help explain things about the game that the audience might not know. He’s as well spoken and articulate as they come, two important qualities to have in broadcasting. His role each week now as a player is to help get Ryan ready, know the game plan in and provide his expertise when needed to his teammates. All traits that directly correlate to how a game broadcast or studio shown is run.
“He’s been a great teammate to me for a long time, incredibly helpful,” Ryan said of his friend and teammate. “He really is another coach in our building for myself in terms of getting me ready, but also helping our wideouts, helping our running backs, helping our offensive line – across the board, he’s been invaluable. I think whatever he chooses to do next and whenever that is, he’s going to do a great job with it. If it happens to be broadcast, he’s as knowledgeable a football player as I’ve been around and understands all sides of the ball, all phases of it, all three levels – up front, in the second level and certainly secondary.”
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Schaub has completed 2,148 passes for 25,467 yards and 136 touchdowns during his career and his experience has proved to be something the Falcons value highly. If Ryan is unable to play at any moment, the organization has full confidence in Schaub.
Not only has Schaub been able to play in the NFL longer than most, the credibility he’s earned by doing that will set him up well if he chooses to pursue a career as a broadcaster or anything for that matter.
“Knowing football and how it’s evolved over the last 17 years since my career started and understanding those things to try to help give the people at home who don’t know the game a better understanding of what is actually taking place,” Schaub said. “What are players are looking for? What are coaches trying to do with the scheme? That to me is so intriguing and something I feel I could be very good at given the right opportunity.”