All-PFF Team, Week 3

| September 29, 2011

If you’ve read our Re-Focused articles, you’ll have a pretty good idea what is coming.
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Week 3 was home to some PFF record-breaking performances, and we’re happy to praise those players once again. It’s the fun part of the job (okay, watching football is the fun part of the job – you got me).
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So we should get straight to it right? Time to give credit where it’s due to 33 men, all of whom made our “Had a Good Day” team of the week.
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OFFENSE 
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Quarterback: Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (+8.6)

Just another day for Brees. Leading his team to a big win in a shootout against a team many (myself included) think could be legit. Completed three of six deep balls this week for two touchdowns. That’s how you keep a defense honest.

 

Running Back: LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles (+4.9)

It feels weird not writing about Fred Jackson here, especially when he played so well. But McCoy was superb, picking up 128 yards and forcing four missed tackles as he did his best to make the Eagles Dream Team seem like less of a nightmare scenario. Yes I know, the ‘nightmare’ pun is terribly cliché, but all the cool kids are doing it.

 

Full Back: James Casey, Houston Texans (+2.5)

Is this cheating? Casey isn’t really a full back, so much as he is a weapon out of the backfield. Not many full backs have 126 yard receiving days.

 

Tight End: Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers (+4.6)

Just edging out the ever impressive Rob Gronkowski, Finley added to his 85 yard, three touchdown display, with some nice work in the running game. Not something you always see from him.  

 

Wide Receivers: Wes Welker, New England Patriots (+7.7) and Greg Jennings, Green Bay Packers (+3.2)

A new PFF record for Welker, with the highest grade we’ve ever given to a receiver. What do you expect when you pick up 217 yards and two touchdowns? Uncoverable (a word submitted for approval to the Oxford English Dictionary with a picture of Welker next to it). Jennings has started this season off extremely well. Ominous.

 

Tackles: D’Brickashaw Ferguson, New York Jets (+4.5) and David Stewart, Tennessee Titans (+2.5)

With Jake Long and Joe Thomas underwhelming, could Ferguson ruffle their feathers? He was superb for most of the game against a relentless Raiders pass rush. Stewart looks like he may be rebounding from his tough 2010 if this performance is anything to go by.

 

Guards: Andy Levitre, Buffalo Bills (+4.4) and Marshal Yanda, Baltimore Ravens (+3.5)

Levitre looked like a wasted pick not too long ago, and now he’s coping with Vince Wilfork and company with relative ease? If you’re bad at your job, maybe it only takes a Chan Gailey pep talk to turn things around? Yanda had to deal with the hard to handle Fred Robbins on Sunday. End result? No pressure given up.

 

Center: Samson Satele, Oakland Raiders (+4.6)

That’s a career day for Satele. He didn’t make an highlight reels, but he was superb all day against a normally talented Jets outfit. It’s taken his entire NFL career, but has he turned a corner?
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DEFENSE
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Defensive Ends (4-3): Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis Colts (+9.0) and Jabaal Sheard, Cleveland Browns (+5.6)

Tough for Jared Allen to be left out, but Freeney near enough single handedly won the Colts a game with a relentless beatdown of Jonathan Scott. Sheard wasn’t quite at that level, but picked up eight pressures – most of them on Marc Colombo. He looks like he could be some player.

 

Defensive Tackle (4-3): Tommy Kelly, Oakland Raiders (+5.7) and Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions (+4.4)

Raiders DLT Kelly is known as more of a pass rushing defensive tackle, and he didn’t disappoint with a sack and two pressures in this game. But it was his work in run defense, where he dominated Colin Baxter and Brandon Moore that got him this spot. As for Suh? Well what he did to Anthony Herrera and the Vikings defensive line is just the standard Suh display. Plenty of pressure – leading all DTs’ this week with a sack, a hit and six more hurries.

 

Linebackers (4-3): Daryl Smith, Jacksonville Jaguars (+3.9), Stephen Tulloch, Detroit Lions (+5.4) and Will Witherspoon, Tennessee Titans (+3.3)

In 2010 Smith had a slightly tricky start to the year after his breakout 2009. This year, all guns seem to be blazing for the Jaguar who may have been responsible for a TD, but broke up three passes while making a further three defensive stops. On the other side Witherspoon had a real day to remember with big plays rushing the passer (a sack), in the run game (a tackle for no gain near the goal line), and in coverage (game winning interception). In the middle we have a former AFC South MLB, with Tulloch simply superb. He made six defensive stops, and shut down receivers in his area so that he only gave up 15 yards on the three times he was thrown at.

 

Defensive Line (3-4): Ray McDonald, San Francisco 49ers (+5.7), Jat Ratliff, Dallas Cowboys (+3.4) and Randy Starks, Miami Dolphins (+5.0)

McDonald ‘only’ picked up four total pressures (one was a hit) but if you look at the speed at which he did so, and that the Bengals essentially had to bench a player to respond to him, and you get the impression of a guy who played very well. On the right side Starks had a sack called back for a late hit by a teammate but was too powerful for the Browns interior, picking up pressure even when double teamed by a center and  guard. Ratliff is far from a typical nose tackle, in that he hardly ever lines up at a zero technique spot, but he made life tough for Chris Chester in particular, and added three pressures to his season total.

 

Outside Linebackers (3-4): DeMarcus Ware, Dallas Cowboys (+5.1) and Camerwon Wake, Miami Dolphins (+5.7)

James Harrison can feel aggrieved not to make this team, but he did a lot of his best work against a TE in Dallas Clark. Ware dominated the Redskin tackles, giving the sophomore a lesson he won’t soon forget. Wake turned up the heat on the Browns right tackle combo the longer the game went on and took Colt McCoy to the ground four times. He’s still feeling those hits.

 

Inside Linebackers (3-4): Donald Butler, San Diego Chargers (+3.1) and Navorro Bowman, San Francisco 49ers (+2.3)

Two sophomore players making this team, with Butler stepping up in the run game (six defensive stops) and Bowman having a nice day in the passing game (two QB hits and two tackles short of the first down marker on third down).

 

Cornerbacks: Ronde Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+5.5) and Aaron Ross, New York Giants (+3.6)

Our cornerback unit may not be the biggest, but they combined for three pass deflections and three interceptions, while only allowing 55 yards between them on 14 throws. Sometimes stats lines lie. In this occasion they don’t. Both men were perceived weaknesses, and both men stood up to the tests that came their way.

 

Safeties: Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers (+5.8) and Adrian Wilson, Arizona Cardinals (+2.2)

When Troy Polamalu smells weakness in a QB he really turns it up. That’s what he did here, turning his eight pass rushes into two hits and two pressures, and a returning a fumble for a touchdown. He also made a couple of nice plays in coverage, including one break up to prevent a TD. While Wilson didn’t do anything overly flashy, he did break up a pass with a near diving interception and came up to support in run defense better than a number of his linebacker colleagues.
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SPECIAL TEAMS
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Jason Hanson (+3.3) was perfect with his field goals and excellent with his kick offs – oh and he hit a game winner as well … Cowboys punter Mat McBriar (+2.5) knows how to put his team in good field position, and his 50.7 average with excellent hang time was a good showcase of this … Preston Parker (+1.7) didn’t have eye popping numbers in a quiet week for returners, but made things happen … Delanie Walker (+1.5) didn’t make any tackles, but is an excellent guy to have on kick returns.
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Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled … and be sure to follow our main Twitter feed: @ProFootbalFocus . .
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