BEREA: Despite what seems like endless tumult coming out of Browns headquarters concerning its quarterback situation, the team can at least take solace in the fact the Baltimore Ravens are contending with signal caller issues themselves.
After all, Ravens starter Joe Flacco went down with tears to both his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments last week and will miss the rest of the season.
“Just a different quarterback. We have had Joe … for a long time, and he’s been very durable,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said during a Tuesday conference call. “This will be very new for us. We haven’t been through this before so it’ll be a new experience for us, and all the challenges that go with that obviously are pretty obvious.”
But not so fast.
Waiting in the wings is Matt Schaub, who, even though he’s a backup now, has been no slouch under center. Schaub had his share of productive games as a starter for the Atlanta Falcons and the Houston Texans before heading to the Oakland Raiders, where he served as a backup last year. The Ravens picked him up for insurance for the 2015 season.
Now he will start for the Ravens against the Browns on Monday Night Football on ESPN.
“Joe has been doing it for such a long time and had such a run going here and [it’s] so unfortunate. I hate the circumstances that it falls under for him,” Schaub said on a Tuesday conference call. “He’s been so durable and played such a high level for so long.”
Schaub doesn’t have a Super Bowl ring like Flacco, but he’s certainly had his share of success. Currently in this 12th season, he’s completed 2,040-of-3,191 passes (63.9 percent) for 24,311 yards, 130 touchdowns and 86 interceptions. Harbaugh expressed confidence in his new starter.
“He’s been doing it for quite a long time. He’s been with us all year,” Harbaugh said. “He’s been right there with everything that’s happened good and bad throughout the course of the season, every correction, every experience we’ve had. “That’s important. He’s been in this offense quite a bit. He’s talented, he’s experienced, he knows what he’s doing, knows how to operate and he’s a good thrower so I think those are all pluses.”
Mention Schaub to the Browns and the first thing they say is that even though he’ll be starting his first game of the season, he is a veteran. And not a veteran backup, but a veteran who has experience as a team’s leader.
“He’s been successful,” outside linebacker Paul Kruger said in a matter-of-fact tone. “We respect him as a player. He definitely understands that offense really well. He has a good grasp of his game and the concepts there. We see him as a respectable quarterback who we need to go out and play hard against.”
Cornerback Tramon Williams agreed, suggesting there won’t be much of a difference in preparation with Schaub in the lineup instead of Flacco.
“I’m saying that because Matt Schaub is a veteran quarterback,” Williams said. “He’s had success in this league before. He’s a guy you have to prepare for as a starter, because he’s been a starter for a while in this league. I don’t think there’s a big difference in mindset in preparing for a different guy.”
Schaub may catch a break in not having to face Browns cornerback Joe Haden, who is still dealing with effects from his second concussion of the season.
“He’s been a top corner in this league for a number of years, so it makes things a little different for them,” Schaub said of Haden. “But he’s definitely a guy you have to know where he is and where the matchup is and understand that going into the game and be smart with working certain routes against him. For him not to be out there or to be out there, you definitely pay attention to that.”
Schaub has struggled against the Browns — he has a 1-3 record and has completed 36-of-61 passes for 375 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions. This game affords him the opportunity to remind football fans who he is.
“I’m looking at it as a great opportunity for me on a good football team to play well and go out each day and do my job and help this team win,” Schaub said. “I’m focusing on that each practice rep, each day and each week. I’m going to take it one at a time, and that’s all we can do in this business and that’s what I’m focusing on right now.”
Schaub said he believes the Ravens can win despite also being without wide receiver Steven Smith Sr. and starting running back Justin Forsett.
“It is all about the work and the preparation that goes into game week,” he said. “We’re excited about the preparation that we have to put in and what guys have shown so far this season. Just that work ethic is going to translate to good things and positive things on the field for us.”
George M. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ.