All-Star Team of the Week: Week 4
Sunday of Week 4 of the 2014 NFL season saw comebacks, big performances and upsets that set us up for exciting second quarter of the season. Some of the standout performers from this week have already made their presence known in the Team of the Week in Weeks 1 to 3, while others are making their first appearance.
So with that in mind, let’s see who made the grade this week.
(Note: Team will be updated as needed after Monday Night Football and by Wednesday when All-22 footage helps us study plays in even more detail.)
Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, GB (+5.8)
When he’s this good, the Packers are very tough to beat, something the Bears will know all about by now. Completing 22 of 28 passes for 302 yards and four touchdowns, he edged out a fine performance from Ryan Tannehill in London.
Honorable Mention: Ryan Tannehill, MIA
Running Back: DeMarco Murray, DAL (+2.4)
149 yards on the ground with two scores and seven missed tackles forced? Yes, that will do nicely, powering the Cowboys to the win and earning his spot here.
Honorable Mention: Khiry Robinson, NO
Fullback: Kyle Juszczyk, BAL (+1.9)
The only fullback with a grade in the green so far this week, Juszczyk has shown himself to be a much more capable blocker than many expected.
Honorable Mention: Darrel Young, WAS
Tight End: Martellus Bennett, CHI (+6.4)
134 yards through the air, three missed tackles forced, and a fine day as a run blocker. Simply put, one of the best performances you’ll see by a tight end all year.
Honorable Mention: Jason Witten, DAL
Wide Receivers: Reggie Wayne, IND (+3.4) and Steve Smith, BAL (+2.9)
The veterans proved they still have it in Week 4, with Wayne reeling in seven receptions, including a touchdown, in his best game of the year so far. Smith has become the type of target the Ravens missed last year after trading away Anquan Boldin, and he made his old team pay on Sunday.
Honorable Mentions: Keenan Allen, SD and Jordy Nelson, GB
Tackles: William Beatty, NYG (+3.3) and Demar Dotson, TB (+3.3)
Both our starting tackles this week have improved significantly after subpar showings to open the season, with both now amongst our 10 highest graded offensive tackles through Week 4. Both were perfect in pass protection this week.
Honorable Mentions: Branden Albert, MIA and Justin Pugh, NYG
Guards: Mike Iupati, SF (+4.9) and Chris Chester, WAS (+2.8)
The best game we’ve seen from Iupati in some time. Absolutely dominant as a run blocker and solid is pass protection too. The right side in general amongst guards didn’t impress much this week, but Chester performed well in the loss on Thursday night. He too didn’t allow any pressure and looked solid in the running game.
Honorable Mentions: Mike Iupati, SF and Zach Martin, DAL
Center: Nick Mangold, NYJ (+3.9)
He’s started the season strong, but Sunday was Mangold’s best showing yet, looking very good as a run blocker and, like most of our Team of the Week offensive line, shutting out any pressure from opposing defenders.
Honorable Mention: Dominic Raiola, DET
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 (+15.0) and Sen’Derrick Marks, JAX (+4.3)
After two weeks where he looked like your average 3-4 defensive end, J.J. Watt decided to revert to his old self in Week 4. Eight hits, six hurries, and a interception returned for a touchdown all leading to the highest graded performance of his career. Also on the interior we have Marks who, while not as disruptive as Watt, was still a tough matchup as a pass rusher, registering a sack, a hit and three hurries.
Honorable Mentions Cedric Thornton, PHI and Muhammad Wilkerson, NYJ
Defensive Interior – Nose: Steve McLendon, PIT (+2.1)
There weren’t many big performances by nose tackles in Week 4, but McLendon was more than solid against the run, registering a pair of defensive stops.
Honorable Mention: Ian Williams, SF
Edge Rushers: Pernell McPhee, BAL (+5.1) and Justin Houston, KC (+5.3)
The Ravens finally look to be getting the most out of McPhee again, using him in a variety of spots in the front seven. That’s lead to two big performances so far this season, helping out the Ravens pass rush. Opposite him, Houston was a menace as a pass rusher on Monday night, coming away with two sacks and two hurries.
Honorable Mentions: Cameron Wake, MIA and Terrell Suggs, BAL
Linebackers: C.J. Mosely, BAL (+7.1) and Jelani Jenkins, MIA (+3.3)
Continuing a very Baltimore-themed group of linebackers, we saw the emergence of the Ravens’ first-round pick on Sunday. Positive grades as a pass rusher, in coverage and against the run saw him finish the day as our highest-graded inside linebacker by some distance. Miami’s Jenkins continued his strong start to the season with his fourth positively-graded performance in a row.
Honorable Mentions: Emmanuel Acho, PHI and Philip Wheeler, MIA
Cornerbacks: Brandon Flowers, SD (+5.2) and Xavier Rhodes, MIN (+3.8)
Another week, another big performance from Flowers in coverage, making the Chargers continue to look very smart for picking him up this offseason. Coming away with an interception, he allowed just three yards in coverage all game. Earning the starting spot opposite him, with four pass breakups to his name on Sunday, was Rhodes. He still hasn’t quite put it all together, but performances like this show exactly what he’s capable of.
Honorable Mentions: Prince Amukamara, NYG and Sean Smith, KC
Safeties: Husain Abdullah, KC (+5.6) and Antoine Bethea, SF (+4.8)
Big games from both our starting safeties this week, with both grading positively against the run, in coverage and on the rare occasions they rushed the passer. Both added interceptions with Abdullah taking his to the house for a score.
Honorable Mentions: Malcolm Jenkins, PHI and Mike Adams, IND
Kicker: Randy Bullock, HOU: 2-of-2 from 50+, along with another from 40+ saw Bullock have the standout performance on the week so far.
Punter: Ryan Quigley, NYJ: Just one of Quigley’s six punts were returned as he averaged 52.7 yards per punt, as he put forward the highest graded performance by a punter in 2014 so far.
Returner: Darren Sproles, PHI: Showing once again why the Eagles brought him on board this offseason, Sproles took a punt 82 yards for the score against the 49ers.
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