HOUSTON (AP) — Matt Schaub led the NFL in yards passing last season to help the Houston Texans to their first winning record. He started all 16 games for the first time. The Texans had a high-powered offense that was the envy of other NFL teams.
Yet the Texans failed to make the playoffs again and Schaub offered up a simple-sounding task for his team.
"We just need to finish better," he said. "Each individual player can play better ... we were in every single one of those games, if we can finish them in the fourth quarter things would be a lot different."
The Texans finished 9-7 and narrowly missed the playoffs after several close losses including a pair of three-point defeats to AFC South foes Indianapolis and Tennessee.
Last season was the first time Schaub started every game for the Texans. Top target Andre Johnson believes that was key in Schaub's success in 2009 and expects even more from him this season after he played with a nagging ankle injury for a big part of last year.
"I always felt like he had the talent," Johnson said. "He just had a little bad luck with all the injuries. Last year was the first year for him to be healthy and he played on a bum ankle for most of the season but he still went out and showed what he can do."
Schaub, who is entering his fourth year in Houston, believes much of what he did last year was because he was more familiar with his teammates and their strengths. He threw for 4,770 yards and 29 touchdowns.
"You look at our offense and there's very few new guys," he said. "And when your huddle stays the same, you have that rapport and that chemistry with your guys it just makes things a lot easier."
Coach Gary Kubiak, a former quarterback himself, has been hard on Schaub as he developed. But he isn't afraid to heap on praise for the strides he's made since arriving from Atlanta, where he spent three seasons as Michael Vick's backup.
Kubiak even thinks he's improved in the short time since Houston's last game.
"I know it's just the offseason ... but he's in total control of what we do and has total command of the offense and the team," Kubiak said. "That's a great place to be in as a player. We've just got to continue to get better around him, but Matt's got a chance to be a great player for a long, long time."
Kubiak doesn't think there's many areas where Schaub needs to improve, but he would like to see him get out of the pocket a bit more to get first downs.
"He's not a guy that runs a lot, but there's certain coverages that are conducive to a quarterback taking off and running," Kubiak said. "So I think he can learn that. Matt's a sponge. He lives here and just works so hard."
Though Schaub has gotten past the adjustment phase with the Texans, he's in the midst of a major change at home. He and his wife, Laurie, recently welcomed their first child, a daughter.
"My little girl is nine weeks old now," Schaub said with a smile. "It's just an amazing thing and I am so happy. Not getting as much sleep, but it's all great. It's all amazing and it goes by so fast. We've just been enjoying every second of it."