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Scouting Notebook: Smoke and mirrors

Michael Salfino
Yahoo Sports

We have to start with a quarterback who doesn't play well but who shows a lot of moxie when it matters most and continues to lead his team to victories despite spending most of his Sundays looking like anything but a competent NFL signal caller. That T.J. Yates is really something, isn't he?

Yeah, we have to talk about Tim Tebow again. Is it interesting or just boring how he enables everyone to plausibly continue to think what they think about him? Personally, I'd settle for him proving me wrong by just being good, period, so we can move on. But he still generally stinks, there is no denying it. Quarterbacks can't control onside kicks and opposing backs running out of bounds when the game is basically over or the play of his defense or dumb fumbles or coverage breakdowns or guys making 60-yard field goals. … They are responsible for producing offensive points per drive and Tebow needs to get a lot better to even be average in this regard.

Defenses bail Tebow out late in these games by playing soft zones like he's a real quarterback. Generally, prevent defenses are effective at trading clock for yardage, but they are unadvisable against a poor thrower like Tebow. The Jets did it a few weeks prior to his touchdown on a full blitz and the Bears followed suit yesterday. Why not continue the same defense that's been killing Tebow?

Yet people bash Tony Romo, the anti-Tebow who has every slightest error magnified and overblown despite extraordinarily good performance generally. Giants-Cowboys was not a great game. Am I the only one sickened by the way defenses were in Madden Beginner mode all night?

Felix Jones is a great get for the balance of the year, but don't get suckered in again next year.

Roy Helu now has three straight 100-yard rushing games and is looking like a second-round pick next year in PPR leagues, especially.

Where does Rob Gronkowski go next year in drafts? It seems the limit for drafting a tight end in standard formats is about the third round. By that time, about 15 receivers are gone. So he should go at least a round earlier, I believe, even expecting him (as I do) to regress in scoring efficiency.

Drew Brees is now up to a 70.9 completion percentage – an all-time high.

Jake Locker has played well in relief of Matt Hasselbeck twice and really should be the quarterback for the rest of the year and seems an intriguing prospect going forward when we eye that QB rating in relief. But starting is a lot different.

Hardly any offense in the Eagles-Dolphins game and that's not likely to change for Philly or their opponent next week, the increasingly nasty-looking Jets.

I hate running quarterbacks, but they incontrovertibly boost the yards per carry averages of their running backs by about a yard. Again, DeAngelo Williams is really good. The reason is that the ends have to stay outside in order to defend possible boot action, which creates huge natural holes between the tackle and guard. This didn't matter on his long touchdown, but look at the replay of it and focus on the right end away from the play to get an illustration of what I mean. If the offseason breaks right, Williams will have the biggest expected increase in value of any returning player.

We said in Football by the Numbers that Maurice Jones-Drew had a great matchup, but that was off the charts even against the pathetic, 32nd-ranked Bucs (Cowboys get them next, on Saturday).

Got some heat in that aforementioned piece for saying that Arian Foster and A.J. Green "would disappoint owners" and be "non-factors," but these are rote calls that require no special insight when you simply look at the stats that we provide.

Joe Webb and Tebow are basically the same player. Okay, Webb is a much better runner, you are correct.

Mark Sanchez has 26 touchdowns (21 passing, five rushing) with skill/talent that is nothing special. Santonio Holmes is a good No. 2 receiver with average size and speed and Plaxico Burress is almost useless outside the red zone. Dustin Keller is a ham and egg tight end – too small to provide a target in the hash area and not fast enough to separate from defenders.

Shonn Greene is a product of his offensive line, which has been very good again of late. As for the catches, everyone can catch a swing pass. Those are opportunity plays, not based on skill.

That was the bad Alex Smith at Arizona. No team asks less of their quarterback than the Niners. You see why when circumstances like Sunday force them to ask for more.

I thought C.J. Spiller was a good play Sunday but Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills could not get out of their own way.

Will Josh McDaniels get another head coaching shot in Kansas City? That would be a crime. What has he done to earn it? "Drafted Tebow" is the top line of his resume. And he won't be able to brag about that for long.

Al Davis is spinning in his grave over the Raiders dedicating their season to him in light of their atrocious play the past two weeks.

James Harrison has got to be suspended for multiple games. He clearly has intent to injure and it's almost inevitable that he will succeed in a big way if he's not stopped once and for all. He's turning the NFL gridiron into the Roman Coliseum and the game is enough for me. Don't need or want the carnage.

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.

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