Scouting Notebook: Helu again

Michael Salfino
Yahoo! SportsNovember 28, 2011

We're going to get into more Tim Tebow(notes) Time shortly. But we have to start this week with Stevie Johnson(notes) mocking Plaxico Burress(notes) for shooting himself in a touchdown celebration that cost his team 15 yards and set up an ensuing touchdown and then, karmically, dropping a pass in the final minute that likely would have been a game-winning catch and run, given no one was near him. Next time, he should shoot himself in the foot. Or maybe shoot his mouth off.

People saying he got the best of Darrelle Revis(notes) are kidding themselves. He had 75 yards on 13 targets – which is 5.76 yards per target (terrible). The Jets were in zone on his drop, so call it 6.25 yards per target versus Revis which is still awful.

Roy Helu(notes) is going to be a name we hear a lot about for years to come unless injury intervenes. He is fast, runs decisively and with power and is a dynamite receiver. Plus, he stands up against safeties and linebackers who blitz. He really looks like the complete package. This Seattle defense is no picnic and is one of the more stout units in the sport (eighth in rushing yards allowed per game heading into Week 12).

The real story in Denver is the emergence of a dominating defense. In the five games Tebow has "won," the Broncos have allowed 75 points – 15 per game. The Niners are the stingiest defense in the league, allowing 14.6 per game. Winning games when your defense allows 10-to-15 points per game is not a big deal. Since 2009, the record when you allow that many is 176-32. Next up for Denver's defense – Minnesota.

Tebow now has eight straight games of throwing at least eight passes and completing 50 percent or less – the most consecutive I can ever find and a record I will wager dating back to at least 1990. Last week in the comments and in messages to me via Twitter @MichaelSalfino, people wanted me to quantify my problems with his mechanics. With the help of my high definition DVR and some simple math, it was easy. Tebow takes 0.53 seconds on average to release the ball from the time he begins his throwing motion. The other QBs I surveyed took between 0.26 seconds and 0.36 seconds. The fastest was Tom Brady(notes) on a shotgun catch and throw to a receiver in the slot. Tebow took double the time on the same exact play (it was batted down). At a minimum, his release was 50 percent slower than every other quarterback surveyed.

Matt Ryan(notes) is accused of regressing and it's definitely arguable but his yards per pass attempt – the most important stat in the NFL – is a career high 7.3 this year. Yes, this is a high YPA year. But it's boosting his yards per game from 231 to 262 in about the same number of attempts.

Someone has to explain to me why the Panthers threw all that money at DeAngelo Williams(notes) and then gave him rushing scraps. He's one of the top five pure runners in the game and if he gets a chance to be a true feature back next year, I will make a play on him a round higher than his ADP for sure.

Donald Brown(notes) was one call I got right last week in Football by the Numbers. Actually, it was a pretty good week for this matchup tool and I like it even more as the sample sizes of opposing defenses get bigger. (We won't talk about Nate Washington(notes).)

I really like LeGarrette Blount's(notes) patience and the way he slides into and through holes. He's a very nifty between-the-tackle runner and not just someone who uses his size to break tackles.

Beanie Wells(notes): Who could have seen it? With a non-starting-caliber QB like John Skelton(notes) and with a knee injury that he hurt again during the game to boot. In hindsight, though, the Rams were 32nd in rushing yards allowed in those aforementioned defensive rankings. Circle the back they face in coming weeks. Next up: Frank Gore(notes).

Mark Sanchez(notes) didn't complete 50 percent of his passes either. And he averaged just 5.14 yards per completion – third worst since 1960 for any QB with four or more passing TDs in a game after Matthew Stafford's(notes) 4.71 against the Redskins last year and Tommy Kramer's 5.07 for the Vikings against the Bears in 1979.

Burress had the last laugh on Johnson, too, with a ridiculous circus catch on 3rd-and-11 with the game on the line in the final two minutes, setting up the winning Sanchez-to-Santonio Holmes(notes) score. Burress is much better in the second half, and says his legs are back into football shape (insert punchline, Stevie Johnson wannabes).

Caleb Hanie(notes) is Tebow plus turnovers. It's not pretty, but he hangs in there, somehow. It won't end well for him though, either. And yes, I'm giving Tebow credit. The real story with him isn't how he beats opponents, it's how he doesn't beat himself.

Let's see: a defensive coordinator who last coached defense before this year in 1989 in high school vs. Tom Brady. How do you think that is going to work out? Yeah, I told someone on Twitter to play Cam Newton(notes) over him. But I told all of you after Week 1 that you shouldn't be in this situation to begin with because you long-ago should have traded your most-highly valued QB (and Newton entered the week as the No. 2 overall scorer in most formats).

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.