All-PFF Team, Week 1

| September 15, 2011

Every week there are performances that stick out: a tackle who blanks a pass rusher, a wide receiver who makes a series of tough grabs, heck, even the punter who booms a ball out of bounds at the 1. Many of these performances get left behind without proper recognition, so, Pro Football Focus (through me, Khaled Elsayed) is bringing back one of our most popular weekly features to give a full “team” of individual credit where it’s due.
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Here’s our Week 1 “Had a Good Day” Team as we reward those who kicked the season off with a strong showing. Keep an eye out for the other half of things as we’ll soon follow with the “Had a Bad Day” team.
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Here we go … move over Eagles, this is the real dream team!
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OFFENSE
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Quarterback: Tom Brady (+15.2), New England Patriots

Just 517 yards, and just the highest grade we’ve ever awarded here at Pro Football Focus. You’ve heard enough about how good Brady was, but suffice to say it’s well worth watching for any fans of quarterbacking.
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Running Back: Fred Jackson (+3.8), Buffalo Bills

It’s perhaps a little harsh to overlook Matt Forte (+5.0), but Jackson did more as a runner where he forced eight missed tackles on his way to 112 yards. Is there a more underrated back in the league?
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Full Back: Vonta Leach (+1.1), Baltimore Ravens

Dropping a pass won’t earn our praise, but his blocking will. Good start to life as a Raven. Credit also goes to his replacement inHouston, where James Casey looks like a true weapon at the fullback spot. Now, will they keep him there?
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Tight Ends: Aaron Hernandez (+2.8) and Rob Gronkowski (+2.8), New England Patriots

This is cheating but I’m going for the time share. The two form a tremendous tandem and combined for 189 yards on 13 receptions. Gronkowski also comes with the added benefit of being an outstanding blocker.
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Wide Receivers: Kenny Britt (+3.3), Tennessee Titans and Steve Smith (+2.9), Carolina Panthers

There were almost too many good performances to pick from this week, with it being a sad day when a player who made some of the catches Calvin Johnson did not making the team (though he did drop a couple). Still you have to be happy with a motivating (and trouble free) Kenny Britt picking up 136 yards and two touchdowns. It’s not as many as the 178 of Steve Smith (though Britt did break three tackles), but it’s impressive.
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Tackles: Doug Free (+3.3), Dallas Cowboys and Bryan Bulaga (+5.6), Green Bay Packers

Not a bad day for Doug Free. Sure his run blocking wasn’t at its usual high level, but he was perfect in pass protection. Anyway, with Bryan Bulaga at the opposite end, we’re inclined to just run to the right. Bulaga was dominant against the Saints and only gave up one pressure.
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Guards: Rob Sims (+3.3), Detroit Lions and Josh Sitton (+5.1), Green Bay Packers

After a disappointing start to life as a Lion, maybe this year will prove better for the talented Sims. He’s certainly started off well, getting the better of Roy Miller in particular. As for Sitton, well it’s nice to see a player rewarded when they deserve it. He earned his contract extension and the praise that has come his way. He started the season in fine form, exposing (to anyone paying attention) Sedrick Ellis in the run game.
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Center: Chris Myers (+8.0), Houston Texans

Not one negative play from the Texans’ center as he put on a clinic against the Colts’ lackluster interior D-line. Myers didn’t just beat up one Colts tackle, he beat them all up with relative ease. Tremendously underrated player.
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DEFENSE  (3-4 and 4-3 looks)
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Defensive Ends (4-3): John Abraham (+6.2), Atlanta Falcons and Brian Robison (+6.7), Minnesota Vikings

We all know what Abraham is capable, so it’s no surprise he picked up a couple of sacks and blew up some plays in the run game. But who saw Robison being such a stud? Well this guy, who just so happens to be me did. Robison picked up a sack and five further pressures while making another two defensive stops. Ray who?
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Defensive Tackle (4-3): Phil Taylor (+4.3), Cleveland Browns and Haloti Ngata (+3.9), Baltimore Ravens

Last year was his best to date, and if week one is anything to go by, he could be getting better. That’s Haloti Ngata, of course, and you won’t be surprised to see him on this list after he was one of the stars of the Ravens’ opening day win. Phil Taylor in Cleveland, off the radar to most, had a stunning debut. Sure the competition wasn’t great, but the rookie finished the day with five defensive stops. Has Cleveland unearthed a first-round gem for the third year in a row?
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Linebackers (4-3): Kamerion Wimbley (+8.3), Oakland Raiders, Paul Posluszny (+5.1), Jacksonville Jaguars and Von Miller (+4.9), Denver Broncos

Two players from the same game and in it for very different reasons. Von Miller was meant to be the pass rushing stud at the SLB spot, but instead Wimbley was a terror in picking up seven pressures. Miller was held back from too much pass rushing, but forced a fumble and was at ease shedding blockers. Inside them Paul Posluszny is quickly starting to repay the investment in him. Three tackles for no gain, a pass break up and a couple of pressures (one on Michael Roos) will leave fans wanting more of the same.
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Defensive Line (3-4): Justin Smith (+6.3), San Francisco 49ers, Casey Hampton (+1.4), Pittsburgh Steelers, and J.J. Watt (+4.2), Houston Texans

Sigh. It would be nice to not have to repeat myself, but alas he keeps making me do it. Justin Smith is a special player. Are you happy now Justin? Maybe you can stop terrorizing players like Russell Okung and James Carpenter? I doubt it – two sacks, three hits and five pressures tell everyone he’s as good as ever. Partnering with him at DE, J.J. Watt becomes the third rookie to make this week’s team. Granted, the Indy line doesn’t present the toughest challenge, but five pressures and two defensive stops mark a good day’s work. As forHampton, he’s one Steeler who can hold his head up high.
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Outside Linebackers (3-4): Mario Williams (+7.8), Houston Texans and Clark Haggans (+3.4), Arizona Cardinals

We’ll have to wait until he’s facing someone better than the combo of Jeff Linkenback and Dallas Clark (yep, the Colts thought it wise to leave Clark alone to handle Williams), to truly assess Williams’ impact as an OLB, but initial signs are very positive with 11 QB disruptions on the day. Haggans has long come in for criticism for his inability to get to the quarterback from the OLB spot. Well, it’s a new day inArizonaand Haggans responded by going to work on Jeff Otah to the tune of four pressures. Let’s see if he can keep it up.
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Inside Linebackers (3-4): Daryl Washington (+6.0), Arizona Cardinals and Lawrence Timmons (+3.2), Pittsburgh Steelers

Washington looks like some player doesn’t he? It wasn’t just the sacks. It wasn’t just the defensive stops. It wasn’t even just the interception. It was his all-around game. He’s looked like a player since entering the league. As for Timmons, we all know he’s a special talent. He didn’t have his best game, but he’s a real force in the run game, coming up to make 10 defensive stops.
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Cornerbacks: Joe Haden (+4.6), Cleveland Browns and Darrelle Revis (+3.0), New York Jets

Get used to seeing these two names. Haden is well on his way to being a superstar in this league and for some reason, he was thrown as 11 times (resulting in five pass deflections). The next shutdown corner in this league, he still has a way to go to match Revis, who even when he wasn’t completely at his best still changed the game.
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Safeties: Ed Reed (+4.7), Baltimore Ravens and Kenny Phillips (+4.5), New York Giants

So Ed Reed intercepts a couple balls, what’s new? Reed could have had more and doesn’t appear to be showing any signs of decline. As for Phillips, an oft-forgotten former first round pick, he’s really coming along now. He came up very nicely to make three tackles for short gains and even added a couple of pressures.
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Special Teams

There’s a distinct bay area feel to this group. The five touchbacks are almost meaningless at Mile High to a man like the Raiders’ Sebastian Janikowski (+3.1), but he also nailed all his kicks including a 63 yarder … Making an all-Raider kicking unit, Shane Lechler (+4.5) is the king of the long distance/high hang time kicking game. He makes punting an art form … Ted Ginn (+3.5) simply has to be in this team when you return a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown … Delanie Walker led the way with four special teams tackles.
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Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled … and be sure to follow our main Twitter feed: @ProFootbalFocus . .
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