This is as simple as can be: Having broken down all 16 games, play by play, player by player, we went through all of our Week 1 ratings and took the best of the best at each position for our first All-PFF team of the season.
Included on this week’s team of titans are two sure-fire Hall of Famers, several PFF favorites, a handful of previously negative players looking for new starts and one very impressive rookie.
Quarterback — Peyton Manning (+9.7, Indianapolis)
His team may have lost, but Manning was exceptional in throwing 433 yards and excelled on the deep ball (6 of 8 for 186 yards)
Running Back — Pierre Thomas (+2.3, New Orleans)
Less yardage and carries than Arian Foster but excellent running against a tough Vikings defensive front. Five forced missed tackles and 3.2 yards after contact tell the story of his ability to make things happen.
Fullback — Vonta Leach (+5.4, Houston)
Seeing a high snap count for a fullback (46 plays), Leach met the challenge of Colts middle linebacker Gary Brackett head-on with a truly excellent display of lead blocking.
Wide Receivers — Brandon Lloyd (+3.4, Denver) and Chad Ochocinco (+2.3, Cincinnati)
For a player who has flattered to deceive, Lloyd had an excellent start to the season as he caught 5 of the 7 balls thrown his way while going to work on Derek Cox. Ochocinco did his bit to help the Bengals in catching 12 of the 13 aimed at him and forcing 2 missed tackles.
Tight End — Antonio Gates (+2.2, San Diego)
He wasn’t great in run blocking (-0.4) but Gates was his usual dangerous self in the passing game. He was particularly impressive after the catch, picking up 50 yards and making two defenders miss tackles.
Offensive Line — Jake Long (+2.2, Miami), Chris Kemoeatu (+3.8, Pittsburgh), Chris Myers (+4.4, Houston), Stephen Neal (+5.0, New England) and Eric Winston (+3.8, Houston)
Long wasn’t perfect in pass protection but he was pretty close (1 hit given up). On the interior we went for three guys who were not only perfect in pass protection, but had monster days with their run blocking. Rounding up the line, Winston was utterly superb with his run blocking and overcame a sack by not surrendering any other pressure to Robert Mathis.
Note: We have separated the front sevens into 4-3 and 3-4 alignments.
Defensive Ends — John Abraham (+6.9, Atlanta) and Mario Williams (+6.5, Houston)
Special mention to Kyle Vanden Bosch (8-pressure day), but he was just beaten out by two dominating displays. Abraham (1 sack, 1 hit and 7 pressures) wasn’t quite as good in run defense as Williams (2 sacks, 4 hits, 3 pressures), but to generate that amount of pressure on 23 pass rushes is sublime.
Defensive Tackles — Ed Johnson (+4.1, Carolina) and Gerald McCoy (+3.6, Tampa Bay)
Two players we didn’t expect to see on this list in week one. Johnson was terrible in 2009 (cut by the DT-challenged Colts) but he was excellent with his run defense for the Panthers against the Giants. It was an excellent debut for McCoy, who picked up a hit and 4 pressures and was solid in run defense.
Linebackers — Jon Beason (+6.0, Carolina), Brian Urlacher (+5.4, Chicago) and Lance Briggs (+4.8, Chicago)
Two Bears in this unit with Briggs making 7 defensive stops and Urlacher matching that amount. Joining them is Beason, who made a number of big plays in run support from the weakside linebacker spot. Beason has started this season as he finished last year.
Defensive Line — Glenn Dorsey (+2.8, Kansas City), Vince Wilfork (+4.5, New England) and Robaire Smith (+2.7, Cleveland)
Quite the display from Dorsey, who turned in a 1-sack, 3-pressure day with some excellent run defense. Smith has been consistent for the Browns as one of the league’s best three-technique ends and he added some pass rush in Week 1 with 3 pressures. In the middle of those two, Wilfork had an exceptional day (4 total pressures) as he was his usual immovable self on the Patriots line.
Outside Linebackers — Clay Matthews (+10.0, Green Bay) and James Harrison (+7.6, Pittsburgh)
It was a massive day for Matthews as he had a field day against the Eagles, notching up 10 total pressures and 6 defensive stops. Same goes for Harrison, who made life tricky for Sam Baker with an 8-total-pressure day. It isn’t easy being a tackle in the NFL.
Inside Linebackers — Derrick Johnson (+2.7, Kansas City) and Bart Scott (+7.1, New York Jets)
Finally handed the starting place he deserves, Johnson showed his head coach what he was missing last year with an excellent run defense display that featured a big forced fumble and 4 defensive stops. Scott, who plays in the Jets’ hybrid, saw more action as an inside linebacker and was superb. His 6 defensive stops and regularly disrupted the Ravens’ attempt to run the ball.
Cornerbacks — Tramon Williams (+4.0, Green Bay) and Ronald Bartell (+3.7, St. Louis)
In the preseason we questioned the 2009 performance of Bartell. Maybe Derek Anderson noted this, because he targeted Bartell 11 times. The end result, though, was just 1 completion for 4 yards — Bartell was immense in this one. Williams was a big plus against the Eagles, allowing 4 of the 8 balls thrown his way to be complete for 21 yards while getting his hand to 3 of them.
Safeties — Michael Griffin (+3.6, Tennessee) and Kenny Phillips (+3.3, New York Giants)
What a difference a year makes. Griffin was terrible in 2009 but superb in the season opener, showing good range. The Giants’ revamped safety spot was much better for Phillips’ return. He did a good job in run support and picked up an interception.