So, as has become custom, I’m going to do just that. We’ve had a lot of great games this week and a lot of great performances, and it’s time to shower praise on them.
Quarterback: Drew Brees, NO (+6.4)
Brees needed to be at his best to overcome another New Orleans lackluster defensive performance. His 10.2 yards per attempt got the job done.
Running Back: Adrian Peterson, MIN (+2.6)
It continues to amaze us how Peterson hasn’t just returned so quickly from such a significant injury, but also managed to re-establish himself as the league’s top runner. His 104 yards after contact, with five forced missed tackles, against Arizona was another example of his excellence.
Full Back: Marcel Reece, OAK (+3.1)
His blocking was decent enough, but Reece, as is often the case, excelled in the passing game. He picked up 58 yards on his six targets while breaking two tackles.
Tight End: Logan Paulson, WAS (+3.3)
The highest grade of the week belonged to Dwayne Allen, but the more complete performance from Paulson may have convinced some Redskins fans they can survive without Fred Davis.
Wide Receivers: Lance Moore, NO (+4.6) and Vincent Jackson, TB (+3.5)
Quite the shootout in Tampa Bay, with Moore and Jackson both taking full advantage. Moore ended up with ‘just’ 121 yards but caused all sorts of problems for the Bucs’ defensive backs. Jackson of course had a mammoth 216 yard day and did so on a dodgy calf, impressive.
Tackles: D’Brickashaw Ferguson, NYJ (+4.1) and Mike Adams, PIT (+3.9)
Ferguson edged out Trent Williams with a superb display against rookie sensation Chandler Jones, giving up just one hurry. Meanwhile for the Steelers, Mike Adams had his best game to date, doing some excellent work in the running game.
Guards: John Greco, CLV (+5.1) and Alex Boone, SF (+4.0)
We liked Greco in limited action in St Louis, but he must be terrible in practice, because coaches seem to find it such a stretch to get him on the field. Well the Browns have been forced to and he’s responded with his second consecutive team of the week winning performance. Boone was part of a dominant 49ers offensive line and continues to play at such a level it’s incredible he spent any time behind Adam Snyder.
Center: Jonathan Goodwin, SF (+4.4)
Goodwin has been one of the success stories of the season, building on a solid first year in San Francisco to put forth an All Pro-type start to the year. His display controlling Brandon Mebane was nothing short of exceptional.
Defensive Front 4-3
Defensive Ends: Lamarr Houston, OAK (+6.2) and Robert Quinn, SL (+4.3)
Quite the day for Houston. He picked up a quickfire sack on Eben Britton, a tackle for a loss, three more defensive stops, and of course forced the game-changing fumble. Quinn is in fine form at the moment and really starting to show why the Rams invested a first-round pick in him.
Defensive Tackle: Gerald McCoy, TB (+4.0) and Kyle Williams, BUF (+3.9)
When healthy, there aren’t many defensive tackles better on a play-to-play basis than Gerald McCoy. His batted pass forced a Drew Brees interception, while he added two hurries and a defensive stop in the run game. Williams can think himself unlucky to be stuck on a defensive line with so many players underperforming. He’s making more plays than the whole of them combined, rag-dolling Titans offensive linemen about in his efforts.
Linebackers: Rob Ninkovich, NE (+4.0), Paul Posluszny, JAX (+5.6) and Jerod Mayo, NE (+2.8)
Two Patriots outside linebackers make the list with the versatile Ninkovich coming up trumps when the Patriots needed him most. Mayo had a fine day on the opposite side to continue his impressive 2012 season. In the middle, Posluszny broke up two passes, picked up six defensive stops and added two quarterback hits and a hurry as he put his slow start to the year behind him.
Defensive Front 3-4
Defensive Line: J.J. Watt, HST (+4.5), Barry Cofield, WAS (+1.9) and Justin Smith, SF (+3.1)
The usual spot on the team for Watt who added another two batted passes, two defensive stops and two quarterback disruptions. He’s joined by Smith who, after a slow start to the year, is starting to look like the player who dominated for so long. In the middle, Cofield has one of his better days as a Redskin against his old club, having some joy against David Baas.
Outside Linebackers: Rob Jackson, WAS (+2.1) and Jerry Hughes, IND (+2.1)
Jackson is never going to be confused with Brian Orakpo, but he turned his 34 snaps into the joint-highest grade of any 3-4 outside linebacker this week. The man joining him, Jerry Hughes, has quietly benefitted more than anyone from the Colts move to a 3-4 and continues his excellent season.
Inside Linebackers: Dannell Ellerbe, BLT (+2.0) and Brad Jones, GB (+1.3)
Not a vintage week for inside linebacker play. Ellerbe at least made the loss of Ray Lewis seem manageable with some good work in coverage. Jones, the one-time edge rusher, had a decent enough day as he filled in for D.J. Smith.
Cornerbacks: Michael Huff, OAK (+4.7) and Charles Tillman, CHI (+3.4)
While Antoine Winfield earned the highest grade of the week, his work in coverage didn’t compare to these two men. Huff’s slow start to life at cornerback has been replaced by some fine work in recent weeks, while the fumble-causing Tillman was more than up to the challenge of facing off with Calvin Johnson. Seven of 13 into his coverage for 50 yards with two pass defenses tells the story.
Safeties: Tom Zbikowski, IND (+3.4) and Glover Quin, HST (+3.1)
Quin must have been watching his J.J. Watt tapes as he picked up two batted passes in addition to a pick and a pass defense. Meanwhile, Zbikowski allowed just one of three balls into his coverage to be completed, for 2 yards with a pass defense thrown in for good measure. That was part of the performance that Colts fans would have been hoping to see after his offseason move.
Nick Folk was money with his field goal kicking in tricky conditions … There was some fine punting from Zoltan Mesko on his six attempts … Jacoby Jones was running like he had a point to prove against his old team … Josh Bush made three special teams tackles and earned a higher grade than Andrew Hawkins, who also had three.
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