PFF Team of Week 1

| September 9, 2013

2013-TOTWIt’s that time of the year again where we reward the excellence of football players by naming them to the team of the week.

Unlike other places this isn’t about reputation or merely about nodding our head in agreement at the highlight reel plays that can capture the screen time. It’s about choosing the best from having watched every player on every play of every game.

And now is the time for Week 1.

(Note: Team will be updated after Monday Night Football games are analyzed and on Wednesday when All-22 footage helps us study plays in even more detail where needed with a * noting a change)

Offense

Quarterback: Carson Palmer, ARZ (+5.7)

He may have ended up losing, but he played like a winner. In a flashback to his glory years, Palmer showed everyone just exactly why the team coveted him. Others may have had flashier stats, but none combined accuracy down the field (14-of-20 on passes aimed over 20 yards) while coping under a torrent of pressure.

Running Back: LeSean McCoy, PHI (+4.0)

A late entry from McCoy who finished with a huge 184 yards (something that was helped massively by breaking nine tackles). Perhaps we should have all spent more time thinking about him and less about who the quarterback would be?

Full Back: Colin Mooney, TEN (+3.2)

We like our backs to block and it’s that fact that edged Mooney ahead of new Chief Anthony Sherman. Called up from the practice squad after Quinn Johnson went down for the year, Mooney was expected to spend the season developing. More performances like this and he’ll have spent it punishing linebackers. It was slightly unlucky that the Seahawks, Derrick Coleman didn’t make our snap eligibility number or he would have been in with a very good shout.

Tight End: Julius Thomas, DEN (+1.9)

We’re not in love with his pass blocking grade, but then what tight end should be able to stop Elvis Dumervil? His blocking was still better than Jared Cook, who lost out on a spot in the team marginally because of that and a poor fumble. Both men proved themselves difference-makers though.

Wide Receivers: Anquan Boldin, SF (+4.7) and Danny Amendola, NE (+3.8)

There was never a doubt Boldin would make this team. He picked up 13 catches for 208 yards and broke five tackles in the process in a standout display. The second spot was more contentious. Andre Roberts, Demaryius Thomas and others made cases, but it was Amendola delivering the goods with chain-mover after chain-mover that won us over.

Tackles: LT, Branden Albert, KC (+3.6) and RT, Austin Howard, NYJ (+4.2)

There was a time when Howard was something of a liability. He may never be a stud in pass protection (he gave up a hit and a hurry here) but he can do a job, and he’s imposing in the run game. Albert put a difficult offseason behind him, allowing just the one quarterback disruption and putting on some good tape in the run game that will help him get paid at the end of the year.

Guards: LG, Evan Mathis. PHI (+4.5) and RG, Marshal Yanda, BAL (+4.2)

Two guys who are far from strangers to this team. Yanda wowed with a performance that had to be good to keep Larry Warford out of the team, with the rookie making a big push for a spot. On the left side, Mathis put a poor preseason behind him with his usual regular season standard of quality blocking. He’s already thriving under Chip Kelly.

Center: Jason Kelce, PHI (+3.5)

He wasn’t great in pass protection but he was phenomenal in the running game. Executing on a series of a difficult blocks, his return from injury looks set to be a pivotal one in the renaissance of the Eagles.

Defense

Each week we put forward a hybrid defense that features two edge rushers (4-3 defensive ends or 3-4 outside linebackers), three players on the “interior” of the defensive line (3-4 defensive ends or defensive tackles) and two linebackers (all inside linebackers and 4-3 outside linebackers).

Defensive Interior – Ends: J.J. Watt, HOU (+7.2) and Gerald McCoy, TB (+6.2)

Now you see the creativity of what we can do. Watt is the five technique who can play anywhere across the line, and is already on top form in 2013. He added his usual batted pass to two hits, a hurry, three defensive stops and a boatload of disruption in the running game. Some All-22 review pushed McCoy into the lineup in place of Suh (barely) with his three quarterback hits and three hurries complementing some excellent work against the run.

Defensive Interior – Nose: Jurrell Casey, TEN (+4.9)

There won’t be many times that Casey gets a pass rushing grade (+3.9) as high as what he managed versus the Steelers. The big defensive tackle is hard to block with just one man on him, regularly commanding extra attention. If you don’t he makes you pay, much like he did Pittsburgh.

Edge Rushers: Robert Quinn, SL (+8.2) and Cameron Wake, MIA (+8.3)

A tough break for Shaun Phillips, who would have thought himself a shoe-in to make this team after his Thursday Night play. Not so. That’s because Quinn had a massive game against the Cardinals, picking up three sacks and two hits he went to work on Levi Brown. Meanwhile, the victim for Wake was Mitchell Schwartz and when it was all said and done the ‘Phin had 10 quarterback disruptions already on the season.

Linebackers: Derrick Johnson, KC (+5.0) and DeAndre Levy*, DET (+2.9)

You may struggle to see a finer display of inside linebacker play all season than what Johnson produced. Five defensive stops, a hit and hurry, and some close coverage tormented the Jaguars. Partnering him is Levy who was denied a touchdown by a flag but still did a lot of good work in the run game.

Cornerbacks: Chris Harris, DEN (+3.3) and Cary Williams, PHI (+3.7)

Displacing Revis from this team is Williams who got off to the kind of start all free agent signings want to. Thrown at five times with a pass break up, pick and just one catch allowed.  Harris, the underrated and versatile Bronco, allowed just three of eight balls into his coverage to be complete, while picking off one.

Safeties: Eric Berry, KC (+3.3) and Ryan Mundy, NYG (+3.4)

Maybe this is the Berry we’ll become accustomed to seeing. After a 2012 where he looked off the pace at times, he started this season in fine form. He has a nose for the ballcarrier and, with four defensive stops, it shows. Mundy will have enjoyed his debut for the Giants even if some of his teammates can’t say the same. He picked off a pass and made the kind of opening-day impression that makes you think a perceived weakness might not be one.

Special Teams

Kicker, Nick Folk (NYJ): Three out of three and a big game-winner to get Gang Green off to a winning start.

Punter, Sam Koch (BAL): He had plenty of attempts and really found his range.

Returner, Dexter McCluster (KC): There wasn’t an awful lot to get excited about on special teams this week when it came to returning.

Special Teamer, David Bruton (DEN): He did more than just block a punt with a lively showing.

 

Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled

  • Tim Lynch

    Your rating system is flawed like ESPNs QBR. 7 touchdown passes man…SEVEN! 475 yards passing. What on Earth did Peyton Manning do wrong that Carson freaking Palmer did right? lol

    • Mojo17

      They grade every pass, my friend. They don’t go by statistics. I am a broncos fan, but Peyton’s performance was far from perfect.

    • Colin William Weaver

      Good call. The analysts at Pro Football Focus probably didn’t notice those record setting 7 TDs. Who pays attention to that Manning guy anyway?

    • bobrulz

      His performance was amazing for sure, but I saw quite a few inaccurate throws, especially in the first half. I agree though, the score does seem a bit low to me, but I’m not the one grading.

    • Brad

      Probably not the website for you to be on if you are going to say ignorant things like that. His game was far from perfect. You have to take everything into account, not just the mainstream stats.

      • Tim Lynch

        Ok. Well you take Carson Palmer on your NFL roster and I’ll take Peyton Manning.

        We’ll see who is the ignorant one after that decision. :)

        • Chris B

          It doesn’t count stats. Meaning, for example, the 7th TD to Thomas which was a screen went more positive to Thomas than to Peyton (because Manning didn’t do much on the play, but he still got the TD and yards on the stat sheet). It’s merely grading what the QB did than what the receivers did. It’s not saying Palmer is better than Manning overall.

          • Tim Lynch

            I get it. I just disagreed with it regarding QBs. ;) I’m not arguing any of the other rankings. lol

        • JJ

          You don’t get it and you’re not trying to, this site is not for you.

          • Tim Lynch

            Actually I do get it, but apparently few of you can take a ribbing. At All.

            I watched both games actually and if we are only talking passes, Manning still wins. How about the drop in the bucket for his sixth TD? Or the one to Bubba Caldwell? Or the two to Julius Thomas or the other two to Wes Welker.

            Pray tell me which passes from Carson Palmer were better than Mannings. I just think the QB rating algorithm needs some work. Even that screen pass Manning made for his 7th TD pass was well placed over a leaping defender trying to bust the screen play up.

            The fact is, this site is an excellent resource for grading players at all positions and I reference it DAILY.

            My only point is their rating system for QBs appears to be a bit out of whack…or perhaps Manning’s greatness was just siphoned off by all of the studs catching TD passes from him that night. :P

          • JJ

            Nope. You just don’t get it.

            At the end of the day blowing out a tired defense with garbage time touchdowns off missed tackles isn’t as impressive as say, clawing your way back from a 26 point deficit or something to that effect.

          • Tim Lynch

            Wow. Did you even watch the game? It was 17-14, Baltimore at halftime. Not only that, BALTIMORE had the advantage of TOP at 33+ minutes.

            And the only missed tackle of a touchdown pass came on the second Julius Thomas touchdown. Perhaps you should watch the games a little more closely, buddy.

            You stats junkies are such an arrogant bunch. You can’t even take one little ounce of critique. Man up. I do get it, but I think your “analysis” of the game is flawed. Badly.

          • JJ

            You can spin it however you want, I saw an exhausted D getting blown out in the second half and giving up easy yards. Impressed? not really.

            But hey, you’re more than welcome to go and preach a QB rating system that isn’t “flawed” and see how many people you can get to open their wallets.

  • Tyler Phillips

    This should be adjusted after LeSean McCoy’s performance last night.
    -Edit: Mychal Kendricks, Fletcher Cox or Cary Williams may have pushed for a spot as well.

    • Nick

      They actually (idiotically) gave Mychael Kendricks a terrible negative grade because of his crappy coverage. In light of that, the fact that he was the Eagles best defensive player (or top two with Williams), making plays against the run and rushing the passer, apparently doesn’t matter.

      • infemous

        I’ve become quite disillusioned with the overall grading system.

        The fact that pass pro vs run blocking for a LT is weighted equally is something of note.

        Oftentimes you see amazing performances in one aspect of the game get brought down due to poor or average performances in another.

        I am sure Jared Cook’s overall grade was relatively low due to the fumble and being rubbish at blocking, which makes sense but muddies the picture when looking at overall grades out of context.

        • Richard Light

          …Then why are you guys here?

          PFF offers comprehensive grading. Their main advantage over mainstream stats available elsewhere is that they grade things not available in mainstream stats, for example blocking.

          If “rubbish blocking” is no big deal compared to a tight end’s receiving totals…why not just look at his receiving yards? Why even come to PFF if the only thing you care about are stats that other sites record?

          Football is entertainment – you’re free to ignore or prefer any particular stats. It’s just a very weird choice to say, “Oh, just because this guy was awful at blocking, which is what the team asked him to do half of the time he was on the field, PFF stupidly lowered his grade.”

          • infemous

            I am here because I very much enjoy reading the articles and gaining an additional insight into the sport I love.

            I also didn’t say ‘stupidly’, it was an example of some of the deal breakers in the grading system, especially with regards to overall.

            If Jared Cook ran 25 routes and blocked 5 times (example) why is it fair to bring down his overall grade based on his blocking when it wasn’t a key part of his responsibilities?
            It is known that PFF do not fairy balance out the weighting of grades for different jobs when formulating their overall grades. All parts are measured equal.

            Please don’t put words into my mouth and act like I am not aware of what the benefits of PFF are.

          • Kevin

            That is why there are grades for each category. Overall grade is one thing but It is also separated so I can know how said player was as both a blocker and a receiver.

            What are you saying they do? Grade heavier when a player makes a 9 yard reception than when a player executes a perfect block that allows the RB to get a first down?

          • Bilal

            This isn’t actually true. Players are scored on an individual play basis. Therefore, if a TE runs 25 routes, he has 25 chances to gain a positive score. If he only blocks 5 times he has only 5 chances to gain a positive (or negative). So hypothetically, if a player is equally as good in the passing game as he is bad as a blocker on a per play basis, his overall rating will be weighed in favor of which responsibility he does more of.

      • Richard Light

        I agree. The fact that Kendrick was terrible in coverage shouldn’t factor much into his grade at all.

        This is the modern NFL, and everybody knows that teams don’t pass the ball much. Therefore, being bad in coverage shouldn’t lower a defenders grade because that’s a weakness other teams will exploit.

        I mean, It’s not like the first game of the season between the Broncos and Ravens had 100 combined passes or anything…So only idiots care about pass coverage ability and would give it equal weighting to plays against the run.

        • Tyler Phillips

          Coverage grades are always iffy when they come out before All22 does.

          Philly was playing a lot of softer zone in the 2nd half. Context is always important. Kendricks was a flat out beast in the 1st half.

  • infemous

    How on earth did Carson Palmer grade out higher than anyone else???

    Did you guys fail to see his absolutely horrendous INT???

    I know that these stats have to be taken with a pinch of salt, but its painful to see the a player get unwarranted credit, especially without real context.

    He spent most of the game throwing to wide open receivers due to the Rams awful soft coverage. One read and throw, irrespective of the depth, the guys were wide open.

    • Chris B

      Actually, both TD’s to Fitz were covered well. The INT was probably more on the receiver or a great play by the CB than Palmer making a bad throw. It doesn’t just go on stats. Palmer won’t get much credit for a WR taking a screen pass 90 yards for a TD. Whereas the WR won’t get too much credit for catching a perfect pass to the breadbasket for a TD. Their system is not perfect, but it’s the fairest I’ve seen.

      • DrZaius

        Those two TDs by Palmer were both magnificent, but an important part about his grade (look at the ReFo page for that game) was his performance on deep throws where he was brilliant as well.

        • infemous

          Stats without context are more of a hindrance however.

          The deep throws were 1 read and fling. WR was wide open, due to awful defense.

          The numbers look pretty, but the performance was pedestrian.

          The grade doesn’t reflect that, and most surprisingly his inclusion on this team of the week magnifies a flaw in the grading system.

          (not saying its not valid, but it is obviously flawed and this should be looked at being addressed)

      • infemous

        You forget the part where Janoris and Finnegan give up at least 5 inches on Fitzgerald and they were both flung up there.
        They could have had perfect coverage (which Finnegan didn’t, as he got roasted on that play) and it still wouldn’t have made a difference.

        I agree that the system is not perfect but it is the best I’ve seen, but that does not mean I can’t question this particular grade.

        Palmer did not make the same difficulty of throws Manning did, nor did he face the challenging defense Manning did.

        The Rams D allowed him to make one read and throw. It is pitch and catch. As a QB you are expected to make those throws. He did not make any throws that set his performance apart from anyone elses. I would argue Bradford was more impressive because he threw more challenging passes, making multiple reads and throwing on the run, as well as scrambling for a first down and scoring a 2 point conversion on a QB keeper.

        Palmer took a snap, threw it to a wide open guy and repeated. As soon as there was press coverage and he was forced to move to his second progression, the throws were off target.

        Also, I like how you say the INT was ‘probably’ more on the receiver or a great play by the CB lol!
        Did you see it?

        The only person to blame on that throw is Palmer. It was awful, even if the WR was there, it would have been an INT. It sailed out of his hand completely.

        • Bubs Solo

          Challenging D… Palmer faced more pressure in this game than Manning will in his first 5 games. Palmer faced that pressure and graded way better than anyone else while under that pressure. That being said I though Coleen Krapyourpants had this sown up. Honorable mention to Manning.

  • Chris B

    Khaled, there is a problem with your site. A Cardinals QB made the “team of the week” instead of the “dud of the week”. Might want to look into that.

    • Chris B

      I meant “had a bad day” team.

  • Jonny

    I do not get Philly LB Kendricks grade at all.

    He was very very productive against the run & rushing the passer. How could he have been given our worst defensive player on the night?

  • Andrew

    I was just wondering about the QB rating system as well:

    Take Paytons 2nd TD pass to Wes with 6:42 to go in the 3rd quarter.
    Obviously Wes is wide open. This is a play you’d expect every QB to make and so this would not generate a high grade for Payton, right? So, what is the grade for that play? +0.5?
    Now just consider Payton doesn’t see Wes being open and instead throws a perfect pass to the well covert Erik Decker in the back of the end zone, a throw in a very tight window. That is also completed for the TD. Now, is that a higher grade for Manning? I guess it is.
    If that’s true, then I do have some problems with that. If I’m his caoch, I most certanly want Manning to take the sure TD to Welker and not risk those points by trying the much tougher pass to Decker. So, I actually feel, that taking the easy completion is the better play here, because there really is nothing to gain by trying to hit Decker.

    Is that something you take into consideration in the grading? Cause if you don’t, I’d say that would actually hurt the rating of QBs that are able to see (and take) the easy completions.