sage<sup> </sup>n. One venerated for experience, judgment, and wisdom. From thefreedictionary.com.
There were some in Houston calling for a quarterback controversy after last year. The Houston Texans finished the 2007 season 8-8, their first non-losing season in franchise history, and backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels was a big reason the Texans posted their most wins ever, going 4-1 as a starter in 2007.
Then, with his one chance to shine in 2008, Rosenfels led the Texans to a 27-10 lead over the Indianapolis Colts, befoe his own self-destruction enabled the Texans to pull out a 31-27 come-from-ahead loss in the most shocking of ways. On the Texans' last three offensive possessions, Rosenfels lost to fumbles that resulted in 14 points and then threw an interception that sealed the Texans' fate.
Then, when Matt Schaub returned and led the Texans to three straight wins, Sage returned to the backup status and was quickly a forgetten man. That is, until halftime of this past Sunday's game against the Vikings.
With Schaub hobbled by a knee injury, Rosenfels came in and led the Texans on two excellent drives, one resulting in a touchdown and the second ending with an interception in the end zone. Rosenfels finished 21 of 29 for 224 yards with 2 TDs and 1 INT.
The Texans are in a very rare position in the NFL in that there is not a huge drop off if their starting quarterback gets hurt. We have seen the Patriots suffer inconsistencies with Matt Cassel at QB and we have seen the Cowboys offense simply collapse without Tony Romo. But the Texans offense did not miss a beat, and actually seemed to move the ball better, against the Vikings after Rosenfels came in.
They’re two guys that do a lot of good things and are going to have a heck of a career. But at the same time, they are two guys that have to clean up their issues of turning the ball over," said Texans' head coach Gary Kubiak of Schaub and Rosenfels.
Schaub will be out anywhere from two to four weeks with an MCL injury, meaning Sage Rosenfels will once again be the Texans' starting quarterback as they go up against the Baltimore Ravens in the Ike Bowl. This game was scheduled for week two of the season but was postponed due to Hurricane Ike.
“I think the biggest thing is that I’ve got to go out there and I’ve got to play as close to a perfect game as possible," Rosenfels said.
The injury is an opportunity for Rosenfels but a heartbreaker for Schaub. "It's sad because he's making a ton of progress," Kubiak said of Schaub.
For now, though, the Texans have to put aside their sympathy for Schaub and rally around Rosenfels as they try to get that elusive first winning season. A 3-5 start means they will need to go 6-2 in the second half of the season to accomplish that feat. The Texans last three losses have been by a touchdown or less, including an overtime loss at Jacksonville. "The difference between a 6-10 season and a 10-6 season is very, very small. We have to win those close games," Rosenfels said.
For Kubiak, the difference is the turnovers. "We’re at the bottom of the league as far as turning the ball over. And to me, that starts with quarterbacks’ decisions, and I’ve talked to them about that."
In the end, no matter if it is Schaub or Rosenfels at quarterback, the Texans offense will move the football. But they have to protect the football in order to take that next step. Don't look for a drop in production from this offense as Sage may ver well be the best backup quarterback in the league. But the won-loss record will be dictated on whether or not this team can start winning the turnover battle. The -8 turnover differential is the biggest reason the Texans sit 3-5 and not 5-3 or 6-2.
Hopefully, Rosenfels will take that sage-namesake and play smart football and those turnovers will diminish.