by Tommy Lawlor – http://www.ScoutsNotebook.com
* Antonio Gates and Dallas Clark are injured. Tony Gonzalez is in the NFC. So who is the best TE in the AFC these days? It just might be Dustin Keller of the Jets. He has good numbers this year, 24-343-5. Set the numbers aside and watch the tape. Keller is making tough catches and big plays. He’s a clutch receiver for the Jets. Marcedes Lewis of the Jaguars is playing well. He also has 5 TD catches. Lewis might argue that his blocking makes him the better TE, but the NFL is a passing league. Keller is the better playmaker and I’d give him the nod.
* The Vikings D-line has been quiet so far this year. DE Jared Allen played well last week, but only has 12 tackles and 1 sack all year. Allen worked on some things during the bye week. We’ll see if his improved play vs Dallas was an anomaly or the start of a hot streak. NT Pat Williams is starting to slip a little. He is still an impact player, but only in stretches. He did some good things in the win over Dallas. Pat blew up a screen by firing off the ball and getting into the backfield. He also came up big on series when Dallas was pinned inside their own 5. He used his power and quickness to control the middle of the line. Young DT Letroy Guion is showing some signs of life after a quiet start to his career. He’s got a couple of TFLs this season and is a solid rotational player.
* I watched part of the Raiders game. Jason Campbell is not Johnny Unitas, to put it mildly. Campbell threw the ball backward when under pressure late in game. That’s not a pass. We call it a…fumble. Campbell didn’t have any passing yards in the 2nd or 3rd Qtrs.
* Frank Gore came up big in 4th Qtr vs Oakland. He broke off a 64-yard run late in the game that helped the Niners put the Raiders away. Gore had 25 carries for 149 yards on the day. That game was him at his best. He was a workhorse, but also provided a big play. QB Alex Smith wasn’t efficient, but he threw 2 TDs and didn’t have any INTs. The Niners got their first win of the year. Next up is the Panthers. Maybe SF can get another W and put together a winning streak after the disastrous start to the year.
* Tampa Bay is winning games, but still has some issues. The Bucs only have 4 sacks this year. Last week they had 0 hits on Drew Brees. That’s not good. Rookie DT Gerald McCoy is struggling. I always thought the notion that he was as good a player as Ndamukong Suh was crazy. That’s been proven so far this year. Suh is a force at DT and McCoy is basically a non-factor. I do think McCoy will develop into an impact player in time. The Bucs could desperately use some help at DE.
* Rookie WR Danario Alexander played his first NFL game last week. He caught 4 passes for 72 yards and a TD in helping the Rams to upset the Chargers. He’s had some bad luck with knee injuries so it was good to see him get on the field and play well.
* Titans LT Michael Roos sorta flies under the radar, but he is outstanding. I love watching him play. Roos isn’t flashy. He just quietly handles his business week in and week out. Roos is an efficient blocker. There’s no wasted motion. He pulls well on run plays. He’s good in pass pro. He won’t kill guys in the run game as a drive blocker, but he gets the job done.
* William Moore is developing into a good Safety for the Falcons. He is a good run defender. He can hit and tackle. He’s got the size to be good down in the box. He runs well. Moore is making plays in coverage. He already has 3 picks this year. He and Thomas DeCoud look like a good Safety tandem for years to come.
* Keyshawn Johnson drives me nuts. On occasion he will make a real good point and show some potential as an analyst/commentator. Then he says some pretty freakin’ dumb things. I happened to catch him discussing the Chargers the other day. Keyshawn talked about their problems on defense. He was indicating they had a lack of dominant players or playmakers or something that must have sounded catchy in his head. He had just been told they had the #1 defense in the league, but Keyshawn was determined to make a point about the problems on defense and also how GM A.J. Smith was to blame. I don’t think Key ever mentioned the huge problems that SD has on Special Teams.
* Good debut by Colt McCoy. He lost to the Steelers, but showed a lot of promise. Colt was 23-33-281. He did throw a pair of INTs, but think about those numbers and remember that Derek Anderson once was 2 of 17 in a game for the Browns. Colt slid in the draft and then took a bunch of flak this summer for his struggles so it must have felt good to play well and show he belonged.