You can find more from Michael Salfino at Comcast SportsNet Washington
Let's summarize the highlights for NFL Week 10, Scouting Notebook style.
The day went from good to bad to worse for Michael Turner(notes) owners. He ran wild early (111 yards on nine carries), set his team up on the doorstep and then limped off the field. First went an easy TD on first and goal at the one. Next went the game. The post-game injury vibe was that he'll miss a couple of weeks with the dreaded high ankle sprain, pending Monday's MRI.
Losing LT Jordan Gross(notes) to a broken ankle didn’t seem to slow down Carolina. But this could prove to be a serious drag to their running game when the quality of the opponents defense is better than it was on Sunday.
Matt Ryan(notes) really struggled against the Panthers – forcing passes and generally not being able to make anything happen. I understand he has no second wideout. But Tony Gonzalez(notes) and Roddy White(notes) should be enough to make some hay when you have to throw. Ryan's career has hit a detour. He's an average starting QB now in reality and in fantasy.
Tom Brady(notes) sure seemed comfortable the first half in Indy. People talk a lot about strength of schedule. But looking at how he and Peyton Manning(notes) lit it up against solid pass defenses throughout the first half, it's hard to say that they would have played better against the Lions or Bucs. Pros often play their best against the best, especially inner-circle Hall of Famers like these two.
Pierre Thomas(notes) owners will all be rooting against Sean Payton and the Saints come the NFL playoffs. Starting Mike Bell(notes)? Reggie Bush(notes) up the middle now on first-and-goal from the three? Thomas's superiority any way you want to slice rushing numbers is obviously irrelevant.
Payton's showing us he doesn't need Marques Colston(notes), either. That's three catches in two weeks for Colston and not many more targets than that, either. Let's make Devery Henderson(notes) the go-to guy. It's the "no-star system." Remember when play-callers were judged by how well they set up their best players to make big plays?
Mike Sims-Walker(notes) did nothing when matched up against Darrelle Revis(notes), no one ever does. But lucky for him he's not given the go-to receiver treatment where Revis just follows you around all afternoon. Sims-Walker is deserving of that with his play of late.
David Garrard(notes) played very efficiently against what had been the best pass defense in football (measured by yards allowed per attempt). He impressed me to the point where I don't think he'll be a significant drag on Sims-Walker, who gets upgraded again to solid starter in all formats.
What is Minnesota thinking handing the ball off to a tight end lined up at fullback on fourth-and-inches at the Lions eight early in the game? You have Adrian Peterson for that. No need to get crafty. Colleague Scott Pianowski of Yahoo! recently noted in an email to me that "fullback TDs are a way for play-callers to show off." Same goes for fullback runs on fourth down.
Braylon Edwards(notes) and Roy Williams were birds of a feather on Sunday. They both fumbled away big gainers that could have turned their games around. And then, later, they dropped key passes – Edwards on a wide-open, two-point conversion that would have forced the Jaguars to score a TD on their final drive. But grab Williams if he's on your waiver wire.
Coaches have to stop letting skill players throw passes. Given that every rule change the past 40 years has favored the passing game, it's not too difficult for your QB to do the passing. Edwards almost threw a pick forcing a ball into tight coverage – but what does he know about tight coverage from the perspective of the QB? When you practice a play all week, you want to make it. Coaches must understand that discretion (throwing it away) is not going to give way to valor/ego.
Both teams finally got the time management right in the Jets-Jaguars game, too. The Jets parted their defense to let Maurice Jones-Drew(notes) score a TD that would have put the Jaguars up by five, pending an extra point. But Jones-Drew downed himself on the doorstep. Brian Westbrook(notes) did that once, too. Fantasy owners are not fans of this move. But it's very heady.
The Bengals pass defense had their way with Ben Roethlisberger(notes), whose pass-protection demons were haunting him again. But the Steelers passing game will generate more stats if Troy Polamalu's(notes) knee injury is similar to the one that caused him to miss the first month of the season. Losing Polamalu turns Pittsburgh's defense from great to good and thus forces Pittsburgh to score more.
You can't count on Donnie Avery(notes) or any Ram other than Steven Jackson. But we note Avery's big day to highlight that this Saints defense has fantasy notoriety due to very fluky defensive touchdowns. It's average at best in overall quality.
LaDainian Tomlinson(notes) has four TDs in the last three weeks and flashed some of his former ability against the Eagles, but the yards per carry the last four years is a straight shot down – exactly what we expect from high-mileage backs past age 30.
The great thing about Tomlinson's first TD was the Chargers spreading out the Eagles on a running down and forcing them to put just six men in the box. It's a lot easier to run in short yardage when you're not clogging the road with your own men.
Andy Reid just doesn't get it. When it's fourth down from the one-foot line, you go for it because teams tend to go three-and-out when backed up that close to their end zone. So you have the field goal in your pocket even if you don't convert, which you should most times.
Beanie Wells(notes) looks like a starting running back to me. And so, too, does Justin Forsett(notes), who got his chance after Julius Jones(notes) left with a chest bruise. Forsett is the waiver-wire special of the week (assuming you're not in a weak sister league where Wells is still available). Keep an eye on Bernard Scott(notes), who ran back a kickoff for a TD, if Cedric Benson(notes) (hip) misses more time.
Coaches have to stop challenging plays when the replay evidence is conclusive that the call is right. Since it has to be conclusive that the refs are wrong, this is 180 degrees away from a reversal.
Michael Salfino’s work has appeared in USA Today’s Sports Weekly, RotoWire, dozens of newspapers nationwide and most recently throughout Comcast SportsNet and NESN. Michael also covers the Jets and Giants each week for SNY.tv.