Each week the staff at Pro Football Focus watches over a combined 400 hours of football to ensure we know who the best players are. It makes us the premier outfit in player evaluation, used by NFL teams and fans alike to understand which guys are getting the job done and which guys aren’t.
It’s with this knowledge we can put out our Team of the Week, going beyond the box scores and the highlight reel plays to see who were the best players on every play of every game.
Here’s the Team of Week 4.
(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 an asterisk noting a change.)
Quarterback: Andrew Luck, IND (+5.1)
Nicely done by the face of the Colts franchise who completed a healthy 61.1% of his passes. Sure that wasn’t as good as some, but Luck made plenty of impressive plays on his way to guiding his team to another victory.
Honorable Mention: Drew Brees (NO)
Running Back: Reggie Bush, DET (+2.4)
It would have been more but for a fumble as Bush broke eight tackles and ended the day with 145 yards and a touchdown. Delivering in a way I myself didn’t see coming.
Honorable Mention: Matt Forte (CHI)
Full Back: Bruce Miller, SF (+2.9)
Back to his best after a slow start to the year. A heat seeking missile from the fullback spot he locked on, blew away some linebackers and helped pave the way for a big day for Frank Gore.
Honorable Mention: James Develin (NE)
Tight End: Tony Gonzalez, ATL (+4.1)
When they say a guy is open even when he isn’t, they’re talking about Gonzalez. Father Time remains undefeated but Gonzalez is giving him everything he’s got with his work catching the ball. 149 yards and two touchdowns in another fine showing for the future Hall of Famer.
Honorable Mention: Heath Miller (PIT)
Wide Receivers: Demaryius Thomas, DEN (+3.4) and Torrey Smith, BAL (+2.3)
No denying Thomas deserved a spot here even with only 86 yards. He caught 9-of-10 thrown his way and picked up 60 yards after the catch and two touchdowns. Even though Smith wasn’t overly helped by his quarterback he still managed to show his breakaway speed and finish with 166 yards and a touchdown.
Honorable Mention: Antonio Brown (PIT) and Reggie Wayne (IND)
Tackles: Nate Solder, NE (+6.3) and Orlando Franklin, DEN (+5.4)
It was going to take something to best what we saw on Thursday Night Football but Solder delivered with a near flawless display. Perfect in pass protection he was exceptional in the run game to get the nod. On the right side Franklin allowed just the one hurry and added some good work when the Broncos ran himself.
Honorable Mention: Joe Staley (SF) and Phil Loadholt (MIN)
Guards: Mike Iupati, SF (+3.6) and Larry Warford, DET* (+4.4)
A fine showing from Iupati who is looking to put some early season struggles behind him. Beaten for just one quarterback hit, it was his run blocking that won us over with his wham blocks really standing out. With the assistance of All 22 Warford jumped up on the strength of some excellent work in the run game.
Honorable Mention: Johnnie Troutman (SD) and Louis Vasquez (DEN)
Center: Nick Hardwick, SD (+4.3)
A big part of the Chargers offensive line putting last year behind them. It almost goes without saying that he was perfect in not allowing any pressure and was even better when the Chargers rushed. Nicely done.
Honorable Mention: Eric Wood (BUF)
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, HST (+8.6) and Ndamukong Suh, DET (+6.2)
Right now it would take a brave man not to have these two as the front runners for Defensive Player of the Year. Suh took his season total to 26 quarterback disruptions with two sacks and three hurries, a phenomenal figure at this stage for a defensive tackle. Meanwhile Watt added the third-highest grade we’ve ever given to a 3-4 defensive end with a sack, two hits, six hurries and three defensive stops in the run game. There is no slowing him down.
Honorable Mention: Gerald McCoy (TB) and Geno Atkins (CIN)
Defensive Interior – Nose: Brandon Mebane, SEA (+4.3)
Continuing his excellent start to the year Mebane was out of this world against the run. A real nuisance when the Texans try to run through the A-gaps, his four defensive stops don’t do him justice.
Honorable Mention: Glenn Dorsey (SF)
Edge Rushers: Julius Peppers, CHI (+5.6) and Cliff Avril, SEA (+5.4)
The reports of Peppers demise as a great pass rusher were premature and he showed it with a sack, two hits and a hurry versus the quick-throwing Lions. What’s more, he added four stops in the run game. Avril wasn’t quite as balanced, but the speed of the pressure he brought was eye-catching.
Honorable Mention: Tamba Hali (KC) and Michael Bennett (SEA)
Linebackers: NaVorro Bowman, SF (+5.5) and Kiko Alonso, BUF (+4.1)
You’ll do well to be more productive rushing the passer than Bowman who picked up a staggering two sacks, two hits and three hurries while blitzing. Rare is it that an inside linebacker can take over a game with his pass rushing. The two picks of Alonso just beat out Cushing upon further review, with his stellar work in coverage being something to behold.
Honorable Mention: Brian Cushing (HST) and Sean Lee (DAL)
Cornerbacks: Patrick Peterson, ARZ (+4.5) and Aqib Talib, NE (+4.1)
Quite the list to choose from this week. Peterson was so good that Mike Glennon had a 0.0 QB rating when throwing at him, with two big picks coming his way. As for Talib he had a huge game in allowing 0-of-7 balls thrown into his coverage to be complete. That just about got them the nod. Just.
Honorable Mention: Prince Amukamara (NYG) and Alterraun Verner (TEN)
Safeties: James Ihedigbo, BAL (+3.2) and Louis Delmas, DET (+3.7)
One of the surprise success stories of the season, Ihedigbo has thrived as a starter in Baltimore and has pushed himself to the top of our safety rankings. Delmas himself had two picks and, now healthy, looked better than he has in a long time.
Honorable Mention: Da’Norris Searcy (BUF) and Eric Berry (KC)
Kicker, Steven Hauschka, SEA: A good day with a great finish for the Seahawk kicker.
Punter, Johnny Hekker, SL: He certainly had enough attempts, which made his consistency all the more impressive.
Returner, Dexter McCluster, KC: Made the Giants pay for giving him room to return a punt.
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