All-Star Team of the Week: Week 17
That’s the 2014 regular season in the books, and it didn’t half fly by did it? Still, we’ve got the excitement of the playoffs to look forward to now, with all 12 remaining teams still alive in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy. Still, before we start thinking about the playoffs, let’s dig into the Team of the Week one last time this year.
(Note: Team will be updated as needed by Wednesday when All-22 footage helps us study plays in even more detail.)
Quarterback: Geno Smith, NYJ (+4.3)
His best game since entering the league, Smith was phenomenal as a passer against the Dolphins, earning every bit of his 158.3 passer rating with some impressive throws.
Honorable Mention: Teddy Bridgewater, MIN
Running Back: Frank Gore, SF (+3.0)
If Gore’s time in San Francisco is coming to an end as has been speculated, at least he went out with a big performance, rushing for 144 yards and forcing four missed tackles on the ground.
Honorable Mention: Lamar Miller, MIA
Fullback: Kyle Juszczyk (+1.9)
An impressive performance to end the regular season for what has been a solid second season in the league for Harvard Graduate. Over the final five weeks of the season he has had a run blocking grade below +1.4 once, with yesterday’s game seeing him match his personal best grade in his young career so far.
Honorable Mention: Jay Prosch, HOU
Tight End: Coby Fleener, IND (+3.3)
He may have only caught five passes, but two of them went for touchdowns as he added some solid work as a run blocker to go along with it. That saw him just shade it over tight end Travis Kelce, who had an equally impressive day minus the touchdowns.
Honorable Mention: Travis Kelce, KC
Wide Receivers: Odell Beckham Jr., NYG (+3.4) and Eric Decker, DEN (+4.7)
Another huge day — in what has been a ridiculous rookie season for Beckham — saw him finish the year off with 185 yards and a touchdown. Despite missing the first four games of the year, he finishes as our third-highest-graded receiver. Decker ended his season with a stunning 10 catch, 221 yard performance for the Jets.
Honorable Mentions: Andre Johnson, HOU and Michael Floyd, ARZ
Tackles: Tyron Smith, DAL (+6.3) and Derek Newton, HOU (+7.0)
Two big performances from Smith and Newton stopped us from having the Eagles’ bookend tackles in the lineup this week. Newton allowed just the single hurry, with some impressive work as a run blocker to go along with it, while Smith went one better, completely shutting out the Washington pass rush.
Honorable Mentions: Jason Peters, PHI and Lane Johnson, PHI
Guards: Ronald Leary, DAL (+3.5) and Brandon Brooks, HOU (+4.5)
Matching up with the tackles on their respective sides in Dallas and Houston, Leary and Brooks stood at the top of the class this week, impressive in particular as run blockers. Brooks did allow two hurries as a pass blocker but that was only a slight knock on a very solid day.
Honorable Mentions: Evan Mathis, PHI and Erik Pears, BUF
Center: Travis Frederick, DAL (+4.8)
Another big game all round for the Dallas offensive line, with Frederick run blocking his way to another spot in our Team of the Week.
Honorable Mention: Evan Dietrich-Smith, TB
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 (+6.5) and Aaron Donald, STL (+4.7)
A fitting pairing to end the season with, as both were the best at their positions in 2014. Watt was his usual disruptive self, with three sacks, a hit and five hurries, while Donald added a sack, a hit and two hurries of his own.
Honorable Mentions: Muhammad Wilkerson, NYJ and Star Lotulelei, CAR
Defensive Interior – Nose: Bennie Logan, PHI (+3.3)
A big performance against the run, where he had four tackles resulting in a defensive stop, sees Logan earn his place here to end a season where he has shown flashes but has been fairly up and down on a positive note.
Honorable Mention: Brandon Williams, BAL
Edge Rushers: Justin Houston, KC (+4.8) and Jason Worilds, PIT (+5.1)
Ending an impressive season with one of his best performances, Houston picked up four sacks and three hurries. Worilds had a sack and four hurries, and finished the game with four tackles resulting in defensive stops with a well-rounded game to cap off his regular season.
Honorable Mentions: Jonathan Newsome, IND and Bruce Irvin, SEA
Linebackers: Audie Cole, MIN (+7.8) and Michael Wilhoite, SF (+4.7)
A big day for Cole saw him register seven tackles for stops to go along with a pass break-up as he impressed both against the run and in coverage. It was in coverage where Wilhoite shined, allowing just 17 yards from four receptions and coming away with an interception.
Honorable Mentions: K.J. Wright, SEA and Gerald Hodges, MIN
Cornerbacks: Brandon Boykin, PHI (+3.5) and Josh Norman, CAR (+3.2)
Both of our starting cornerbacks made their mark on Sunday, with Boykin and Norman each breaking up three passes. That was as well as allowing 26 and 14 yards through the air, respectively, as they made is almost pointless for opposing quarterbacks to target them.
Honorable Mentions: Captain Munnerlyn, MIN and Jason McCourty, TEN
Safeties: Jamarca Sanford, NO (+3.7) and Roman Harper, CAR (+2.9)
Targeted just twice in coverage, Sanford allowed just the one 5-yard reception, but it was against the run where he really made his mark as he finished the game with three defensive stops. Harper’s best work came in coverage, where he allowed two catches for 10 yards, and came away with an interception.
Honorable Mentions: Earl Thomas, SEA and Nate Allen, PHI
Kicker: Steven Hauschka, SEA: The only kicker this week to make two field goals of 40+ yards.
Punter: Matt Bosher, ATL: Making our Team of the Week for the second week in a row, Bosher averaged 49.2 yards per punt while dropping four of his five punts inside the 20-yard line.
Returner: Antonio Brown, PIT: When he’s not making an impact of offense, he’s doing it on punt returns, with Brown’s 71-yard touchdown sealing his spot here this week.
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