10 things to know from NFL Week 7
Didn’t catch every moment of NFL Week 7? PFF has you covered with the top 10 things you need to know based on our grades and data.
1. Tom Brady earned the highest quarterback grade of Week 7.
While Carson Palmer posted a solid performance against the Ravens on Monday (enough to keep him atop the season grades for quarterbacks), it was Tom Brady who stole the show in Week 7.
Against the Jets, Brady threw for a league-high 355 yards, posting the NFL’s best accuracy percentage in Week 7 (87.8) among quarterbacks who played a complete game. Anyone who watched the contest, however, knows that the Patriots’ receivers didn’t help their QB much, with a league-high nine drops on Sunday (the most drops by any receiving corps in a game this season).
Brady was forced to carry much of the offense, with little run support coming from his backfield. In fact, the quarterback led the team in rushing yards for the first time in his career, with 15 yards and a touchdown on four attempts.
2. Jameis Winston showed why he was the No. 1 overall pick.
Behind Brady in the QB grades this week was a less-expected name. Jameis Winston graded at +5.0, second-best among all quarterbacks in Week 7.
As Sam Monson wrote on Monday, this is the high point for what has been a very up and down rookie season. When Winston has been good (Weeks 2 and 7), he’s been very good; when he’s been bad (Weeks 1 and 4), he’s been horrendous.
Against the Redskins, Winston completed 21-of-29 pass attempts for 297 yards and two touchdowns. More importantly, he threw no interceptions.
Winston and Mike Evans seemed to be clicking, as Evans also posted his best game of the year in the eventual loss to Washington. If the two can continue to connect on this same level, coupled with the threat of RB Doug Martin, Tampa Bay fans have an offense they can get behind.
3. Kawann Short is our top-graded defensive tackle.
As Sam Monson wrote on Monday, Carolina’s 2013 second-round pick is the top-ranked defensive tackle this season. In fact, among all interior defenders, Kawann Short ranks ahead of both J.J. Watt and Aaron Donald for the No. 1 season grade in the league.
Short posted seven total QB hurries against Philadelphia, sacking Sam Bradford twice.
While the 6-0 Panthers have many players exceeding expectations this season, it’s interesting to note that the other DT drafted along with Short—in front of him, in fact—is not keeping pace with Carolina’s No. 2 pick from that year. Star Lotulelei, touted by many as the next Haloti Ngata when leaving Utah, has not posted a positive game grade yet this season. Short, in contrast, is putting up numbers much more reflective of Ngata’s.
4. Amari Cooper is meeting incredibly high expectations.
It’s difficult for any player to excel in their rookie season; when you’re a first-round pick, both your successes and shortcomings are magnified.
This season, however, Amari Cooper has excelled, flashing elite traits in another huge performance for Oakland on Sunday, accumulating 133 yards and a touchdown.
As Sam Monson explained in detail earlier this week, Cooper’s game is multifaceted. He can win the deep ball downfield, execute a back-shoulder stop route, and turn a screen pass into a huge gain.
Cooper’s one issue this year has been his drop rate (10.81, ranked 56th in the league). Overall, however, he has shown why Raiders spent the No. 4 overall pick on him, with his season-best grade coming this week against San Diego.
5. Lamar Miller put on a show against the Texans.
Dolphins RB Lamar Miller finished the 2014 season as PFF’s 12th overall running back. After his dominant performance at home against the Texans, he now sits at No. 8 in our new PFF Player Grades.
Miller racked up 175 yards on the ground on Sunday, 140 coming after contact. He tacked on an additional 61 receiving yards and scored a pair of touchdowns (one receiving and one rushing).
The most impressive feat of Miller’s season-best performance: his six forced missed tackles. Through seven weeks, he now owns the league’s best elusive rating, overtaking San Francisco’s Carlos Hyde.
6. But Todd Gurley was even better against the Browns.
While Miller’s performance was impressive, it stood as second-best to Todd Gurley’s outing in the Edward Jones Dome.
Another first-round pick paying dividends already in 2015, Gurley notched his first two touchdowns against the Browns. He tallied 163 combined yards, 35 coming through the air.
While Miller’s six forced tackles were a feat to be boast about, Gurley forced 11 Browns defenders to miss on Sunday. You read that correctly—11. The Rams’ running back is the only player this season to notch double-digit missed tackles in a single game.
Even more impressive? He did it all on 19 carries.
As Sam Monson said, the Rams wanted a workhorse running back to carry their offense—it looks like they have a winner in Gurley.
7. The Saints are still marching.
Don’t count out Sean Payton and the Saints just yet. Moving to 3-4 with a win in Indianapolis, New Orleans flashed some bright spots that could continue to elevate the team.
Left tackle Terron Armstead posted a practically flawless game against the Colts, according to Monson, not allowing a single pressure on Drew Brees in his 51 pass-blocking snaps. Brees, in turn, responded with 255 passing yards and a touchdown.
On the other side of the ball, edge rusher Cameron Jordan was absolutely dominant, wreaking havoc against the Colts’ offensive line. On the day, he posted two sacks, two hits, and five total quarterback hurries.
This season, Jordan is the No. 1 graded edge defender, ahead of Oakland’s Khalil Mack and Denver’s Von Miller, respectively. Armstead, in turn, is the third-overall offensive tackle, behind only Cleveland’s Joe Thomas and Dallas’ Tyron Smith.
The Saints are currently sitting at third in a tough NFC South division.
8. Sam Bradford was not the cause of the Eagles’ loss to Carolina.
While many are quick to blame the quarterback for Philadelphia’s fourth loss of the year, Sam Bradford actually played quite well in Charlotte.
Bradford posted the fourth-best QB grade of the week, in fact, tied with Oakland’s Derek Carr.
So, why did the Eagles’ offense look to have serious issues?
First, Bradford didn’t receive help from his receivers. According to Neil Hornsby’s article on Monday, Philadelphia’s receivers had the worse drop rate of Week 7, with 20 percent of the quarterback’s incompletions coming from catchable drops. Bradford actually tied for the fourth-best accuracy percentage this week—unfortunately, he can only be responsible for one end of the pass.
Another major issue was DeMarco Murray, who earned the fifth-lowest grade of any RB this week (welcome to the Worst Team of the Week roster, Mr. Murray). In the passing game, Murray tallied two drops.
The overall point is that Bradford was not the culprit for the Eagles’ offensive woes in Week 7. The O-line also didn’t help, on top of Murray’s issues and the receivers’ brick hands.
9. K.J. Wright and Cliff Avril are having monster years.
While the Legion of Boom is often the focus of Seattle’s defense, we should in no way overlook the year K.J. Wright and Cliff Avril are having.
Wright is the second-overall ranked linebacker this season, behind only the Panthers’ Luke Kuechly.
As Nathan Jahnke explained after Thursday night’s game, Wright’s ability to limit yards after the catch in coverage has been the key to his success this weekend. Against San Francisco, he was targeted seven times by Colin Kaepernick, tied for most among Seahawks’ defenders. On those plays, he allowed just four catches for a total of 15 yards.
On the edge, Cliff Avril is the second-ranked 4-3 defensive end this season, behind the Saints’ Cameron Jordan. Avril has earned a +3.2 grade or above in six of Seattle’s seven games this year, putting the former Purdue defender on pace for a career season.
10. The Honey Badger threw his name in the hat for Defensive Player of the Year.
Entering Monday night’s contest, Arizona cornerback Tyrann Mathieu was already posting an exceptionally good season. With his highest-graded performance of the year against the Ravens, however, he reinforced his position among the league’s best defensive players in 2015.
Ranked now as the second-best cornerback in the league (behind Carolina’s Josh Norman), Mathieu’s dynamic talent was on display against Baltimore. He was thrown at eight times, with his receiver only hauling in four of the passes (Flacco had a 56.3 QB rating when throwing at the receiver in Mathieu’s coverage). He also earned one pass defense against Ravens’ wide receiver Chris Givens.
John Breitenbach discussed Mathieu’s versatility in greater detail Tuesday morning.