Scouting Notebook: Gimmicks don't last

Michael Salfino
Yahoo! Sports

While I hope unlike last week a few words about Tim Tebow(notes) doesn't become the primary focus of this piece, his believers get to laugh today. But the disbelievers like me will laugh last, I still maintain.

Here's the bottom line with him – he's started five games and completed more than 50 percent of his throws one time. That's 20 percent. Prior to Week 9 since 2009, NFL teams have completed more than 50 percent of his passes 1,095 out of 1,256 times – that's 87.2 percent. He's thus the epitome of a gimmick quarterback and like the Wildcat, gimmicks don't last long in this league.

As for the rest of the slate …

DeMarco Murray(notes) is that rare back who may avoid situational substitutions. But there is no guarantee that the Cowboys won't put Felix Jones(notes) back into the mix when he's capable of playing due to the stupid, "You can't lose your job to injury" rule that some teams have. Why can't you? The better guy should play whenever he's capable of playing, period. That's the only rule that should be in effect.

Dez Bryant(notes) is good for one or two quarters, tops. You have to check every game if he got hurt because he disappears with regularity. Maybe he's too emotional and tires himself out that way. Or maybe he just doesn't know the plays and can't execute beyond using his supreme athleticism. After all, this is a guy who chose to pay a $55K restaurant tab rather than carry shoulder pads like every other rookie. Of course, he's already broke. Maybe he has too much else on his mind.

I have enormous respect for Peyton Manning(notes), but the Colts are no longer even trying. It's a scandal in the making given the Andrew Luck situation. I think it's 50/50 right now that we end up with an NFL lottery beginning in 2013. The difference between the Colts now and last year is roughly 50 percent effort and 50 percent Manning.

Garbage time was kind to the Bills this week. But you should avoid playing your receivers and QBs against the Jets. That goes for Tom Brady(notes), who in two games in the Meadowlands against Rex Ryan's defense has completed 51.8 percent of his passes.

Plaxico Burress(notes) is looking really good and says that he is finally feeling that he's back in football shape. We're in unchartered territory with him. Is he really 34 or does the time away from football sort of arrest his age? I have no idea, but Sunday sure looked like the latter.

In a down running back year you have to play Ben Tate(notes) even when Arian Foster(notes) is healthy. He's so explosive and the Texans block so well in that classic Broncos' style that Mike Shanahan seems to have forgotten, though maybe Gary Kubiak did not get enough credit for that.

This is all bad news for Matt Schaub(notes), by the way. He's not going to be able to steal marginal points via rushing TDs for long. But getting Andre Johnson(notes) back will help enough to make him borderline top 12.

I said last week that Roy Helu(notes) not getting carries last week meant nothing for Week 9. But I do think his usage on Sunday bodes well for Week 10. He's the future in Washington (pretending for a moment that the Redskins have a future).

Normally, you'd recommend a quarterback like Alex Smith that has a 5/1 TD/INT ratio. But no team plays around their QB like the Niners. Smith just doesn't generate enough yards in most formats.

For the first time since Week 1, a Saints running back was given more than 50 percent of his team's rushing attempts and it wasn't the guy who averaged 8.3 yards per rush (Pierre Thomas(notes)). By the way, Thomas's 4.72 yards per rush with 477 attempts is 33rd best in NFL history among backs with at least 450 carries. In many alternate universes, Thomas is a fantasy god.

Wow, Reggie Bush(notes) has looked great the past two weeks. But I do not trust it in betting on his future, or mine. Hold, but do not buy.

Brandon Marshall(notes) I can get behind, but you've got to risk running a gauntlet of off-field issues with him.

I guess this qualifies as upside for CJ0K. There are rumors that Chris Johnson will be released rather than receive contract guarantees within five days of the 2012 league year beginning (that's February 23rd, so mark your calendars). But remember, the Bengals are very good defensively, so don't hold Nate Washington's(notes) day against him, either.

Of course Carson Palmer(notes) should be cut some slack for Sunday's mixed bag (three TDs, but three picks). He's been back in pads for about three weeks. But 9.5 yards per attempt speaks volumes. The receivers look a lot better with him throwing the ball, especially Jacoby Ford(notes) who made a circus end-zone catch.

Michael Bush(notes) deserves to be an every-down back somewhere right now. But life often ain't fair.

It's amazing how bad the Patriots defense looked against a Giants offense that was missing its two best skill players – Hakeem Nicks(notes) and Ahmad Bradshaw(notes). You have to run out of your way to match up against them until further notice.

The Browns will shut down Steven Jackson next week and even if he's healthy, he has no chance against the Niners (Week 13), Bengals (15) and Steelers (16), though he gets a break in having his other game against the Niners fall on the meaningless (for us) Week 17.

Interception taxes are so small that back-to-back Pick 6s like Philip Rivers(notes) threw are the best thing that could happen to his owners. He parlayed those extra possessions into 385 yards and four TDs.

Michael Salfino writes and edits the SNYWhyGuys blog that projects player and team performance for New Yorkers. He's also a quantative sports analyst whose writing regularly appears in the Wall Street Journal.