The first weekend of NFL playoff games re-affirmed the current reality of pro football: it is all about the quarterbacks. In only one game, SF vs Green Bay, did the team with the lesser QB win, and that was only because Green Bay’s poor defense and abundance of key injuries allowed a level 2 QB (Kaepernick) to beat one of the three level 1 QBs (Rogers). In one game, the only mediocre QB (a level 4 QB, Dalton) was alarmingly exposed.
In the second weekend, we get to see the only other level 1 QBs (Brady and Manning). We also get a second case where the lesser QB (Newton) might have a chance to beat the better QB (Kaepernick) because of disparities in the rest of the respective lineups.
In any event, the overall point is that of the 12 QBs whose teams made the playoffs, 8 were great or excellent, 3 were pretty darn good, and only 1 (Dalton) was a mere average. Not a single Matt Schaub-level QB in the group.
Which leads me back to my Texans. The Texans’ owner might think they have excellent talent that was held back by poor coaching and quarterbacking. He is half right: they were held back by the head coach and the QB. He is also half wrong: they did not have excellent talent – but that part is not that important in today’s NFL. Without excellent coaching and quarterbacking, you cannot win consistently even if the rest of the team is excellent overall. But if you excel at head coach and QB, you CAN win consistently even if the rest of the team is only just OK. (See Exhibit A, the New England Patriots.)
That being the case, the agenda for the Texans’ 2014 draft remains clear: get yourself a QB. Yes, if you think there is no one man who stands above the rest, it would be OK to trade down in the draft and see whether you can come away with an extra position-player in addition to one of the best 2 or 3 choices at QB. But if you do your homework and decide there is one QB in the draft who is clearly better than all the rest, you cannot afford to play games by trading down and praying that the teams you allow to go ahead of you will NOT arrive at the same conclusion and pick your man before you can get him. If Coach O’Brien, having coached against Blake Bortles, thinks Bortles is the best QB in the draft, then it is irrelevant that he and his GM might think Bortles is only the 10th best PLAYER in the draft.
And by the way, the Texans might consider releasing Matt Schaub and then re-signing him at a way-lower salary. He would come pretty cheap, he has a lot of experience, he could prove to be the best possible nursemaid/mentor to the rookie QB while keeping the seat warm and maybe stealing a couple of wins, and nobody better than he is going to be available at anywhere near the same price.