Scouting Notebook: Tebow earns passing grade

Michael Salfino
Yahoo! Sports

The key to fantasy football and to understanding life, really, is to learn to reason and to forget about rationalizing. I'm not going to fall into the trap of lawyering Tim Tebow(notes) here every week. We keep getting new data and that gets added to the mix and then we have to be reasonable enough to change our views, which always should be subject to change in light of more evidence.

In short, Tebow won this game. It was the performance that all of his backers have been talking themselves into thinking he actually had when he did not. He made some plays other weeks, of course, but the sum of his performance in the Denver's other wins was decidedly negative relative to anything we should expect from a league-average QB on a per-game basis. Denver was winning despite him, due to great defense.

The Vikings game, though, was different. It was the same Tebow we've seen in the first half – terrible. The read option was being destroyed by the Vikings just as it was by the Jets. But this time, the Broncos defense had no answers for Christian Ponder(notes) (13 first downs). So, game over, I figured. But then the Broncos went away from the read option and instead used a fullback and put Tebow behind center. The Vikings played terrible pass defense – blowing coverage on three long passes – but Tebow's throws were right on the money. So for the first time, I think there is a chance that Tebow can be a long-term answer. I do not think it's a good chance (i.e., likely). I would much rather have Christian Ponder, for example. But it's far more likely than I thought would be possible heading into this game. The read option is now finished as a base offense. The question is whether Tebow can play like he did in the second half in conventional sets when the opposition is better prepared to defend them.

Now on to the rest of the league in this Week 13 (where does the time go?) Scouting Notebook. Any questions, comments, pro-Tebow diatribes can be sent to Twitter @MichaelSalfino.

Hat tip to Matt Schaub(notes) and Jay Cutler(notes) owners who picked up Dan Orlovsky(notes), playing the matchup against the weak Patriots pass defense, as chronicled here each week in Football by the Numbers. The Patriots are decent at preventing passing TDs, but yards always trump that. Same goes for Pierre Garcon(notes) owners. Garcon now has three 30-point weeks and has done next to nothing (zero touchdowns) all other weeks. That's probably never happened before.

Remember when we all thought that Aaron Hernandez(notes) was the explosive Pats tight end to own? Lesson: size matters most at the position.

I like Percy Harvin(notes) and have said so since the first week with Christian Ponder. But when he's not practicing, I can't say to play him. Even when he was active, I thought Champ Bailey(notes) would limit him to WR3 territory. Oops.

The Dolphins defense looks really nasty right now. Beware. But remember, Michael Bush(notes) owners, 95 percent of backs have weeks like that.

Reggie Bush(notes) is sort of the Tim Tebow of running backs. He's always polarized people. Great college player. Questions about his value as anything more than a situational player. Lately, he's building a case against his critics, too.

Shonn Greene(notes) was very lucky to have a productive day. Big holes close really fast for him, which means that he's not fast enough.

Have to note Roy Helu's(notes) fumble, not that it should matter, but just accounting for Mike Shanahan's pretext-seeking, running-back-changing mind.

I can't see how the Texans can withstand another potential season-ending injury to a key player – Andre Johnson(notes). But Wade Phillips is the unsung hero of the NFL this year for turning Houston's defense completely around, without Mario Williams(notes).

I drafted Rashard Mendenhall(notes) in numerous places. I know the Steelers line has struggled. But he's just a guy out there, two Sunday touchdowns notwithstanding.

The Lord smote he who stood in the way of Tebow, Kyle Orton(notes), in one Chiefs' play.

On a related note, replay reviews for Tebow do go upstairs – all the way upstairs.

I know it's tempting to project Cam Newton(notes) for at least 10 rushing touchdowns next year. I love him as a prospect, as you all have known since Week 1. But that's not going to happen.

Steve Smith has really disappointed of late. All the rushing touchdowns are hurting him. But he's mostly a PPR/yardage guy when going well and there's just not enough volume in the Panthers passing game.

I think I told someone to play Torrey Smith(notes) as a third receiver among many bad options. But those Browns pass defense numbers are really good plus they have no run defense. This is why I provide that "Numbers" info for you here every Tuesday, so please use it.

Victor Cruz(notes) has started three games and is on pace to set the Giants all-time record for receiving yards. Something is wrong with that and it's the Giants reluctance to deploy three wides as their base offense.

Jermichael Finley(notes) dropped at least three passes, so this could have been the huge day his owners have been waiting to see. Green Bay likes Brandon Saine(notes) if James Starks(notes) is out for long, not that there's much to do if you are a Packers back.

The Cowboys totally blew the end game. They had two timeouts after a Dez Bryant(notes) completion down to Arizona's 31 with 31 seconds left. But they clocked it with seven seconds and then had to send out the field goal team. They could instead have had three tries to get one completion with the whole field to work with. Tony Romo(notes) is too experienced for such nonsense. Then they use a timeout to ice their own kicker and take the game-winning field goal off the board, setting up the ensuing overtime loss.

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.