All-Star Team of the Week: Week 5
We saw a number of close games in Sunday’s slate of action, particularly in the early games, but five weeks into the season we are starting to see teams and players begin to separate from the pack and take their position at the top.
So with that in mind, let’s see who made the grade this week in the PFF All-Star Team of the Week.
(Note: Updated after Monday Night Football)
Quarterback: Russell Wilson, SEA (+5.0)
Wilson was at his brilliant best on Monday night, making Washington pay with both his arms and his legs. That big showing on Monday saw him leap ahead of Cam Newton in this week’s quarterback grading.
Honorable Mention: Cam Newton, CAR
Running Back: Pierre Thomas, NO (+4.4)
112 total yards, a touchdown, six missed tackles forced. That’s a sure fire way to put yourself in position to be our starting running back on this roster, and it’s exactly what Thomas did against Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Honorable Mention: Marshawn Lynch, SEA
Full Back: Henry Hynoski, NYG (+2.0)
Nothing pleases me more than being able to talk about a true blocking full back having earned his spot here, with Hynoski excelling as a run blocker against the Atlanta Falcons yesterday. One of three full backs to earn a grade “in the green” for their run blocking, he was a class above in Week 5.
Honorable Mention: James Develin, NE
Tight End: Antonio Gates, SD (+2.5)
Maybe he’s not the player he once was, but Gates showed on Sunday that he can still be a viable target for the Chargers, reeling in four receptions for 60 yards and two touchdowns.
Honorable Mention: Jared Cook, STL
Wide Receivers: Vincent Jackson, TB (+3.5) and Sammy Watkins, BUF (+3.2)
The Buccaneers couldn’t quite hold on against the Saints yesterday, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort from Vincent Jackson, four missed tackles forced and 144 yards through the air giving him the highest grade of any receiver this week so far. For Watkins it’s been an up and down rookie season so far but we definitely saw the positive this week, slowly but surely making the Bills look smart for picking him up in May’s draft.
Honorable Mentions: Demaryius Thomas, DEN and Brandon Marshall, CHI
Tackles: Joe Staley, SF (+6.8) and Doug Free, DAL (+4.8)
Perfect in pass protection and some fantastic work as a run blocker saw Joe Staley stand tall above all other offensive tackles in Week 5. Opposite him Free wasn’t quite perfect, allowing two hurries, but he too was very good as a run blocker, edging out fellow NFC East tackle Justin Pugh for the starting role here.
Honorable Mentions: William Beatty, NYG and Joe Barksdale, STL
Guards: Joel Bitonio, CLE (+4.3) and David DeCastro, PIT (+3.7)
Bitonio looked nothing like a rookie as he stood out for the Browns’ offensive line on Sunday, with a perfect day in pass protection and some impressive work as a run blocker. For the Steelers DeCastro may not have been quite at as high a level as Leary, but he too was good in the running game, opening holes for Le’Veon Bell throughout the game.
Honorable Mentions: Ben Grubbs, NO and Marshal Yanda, BAL
Center: Corey Linsley, GB (+4.1)
The theme for our offensive line this week appears to be their strength as run blockers with the dominance of the Packers’ starting center from Thursday night holding onto the spot throughout the weekend, seeing him a step above the rest at the position.
Honorable Mention: Alex Mack, CLE
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: Gerald McCoy, TB (+8.9) and Johnathan Hankins, NYG (+6.5)
Our starters on the interior are here on the basis of their work as pass rushers this week, with both McCoy and Hankins too much to handle for opposing interior offensive linemen. McCoy was an absolute monster, registering three quarterback hits and seven hurries, while Hankins looked good too, with a sack, a hit and two hurries.
Honorable Mentions: Muhammad Wilkerson, NYJ and Kawann Short, CAR
Defensive Interior – Nose: Damon Harrison, NYJ (+1.9)
Four tackles, all resulting in defensive stops. An absolute nightmare against the run on the nose on his day, Harrison may not have been quite at that level this week, but he was still tough to deal with for the Chargers.
Honorable Mention: Sammie Lee Hill, TEN
Edge Rushers: Jason Pierre-Paul, NYG (+9.1) and Jerry Hughes, BUF (+5.7)
Both of our starting edge rushers took advantage of some poor play by opposing offensive linemen this week, but you can only beat the player you’re lined up opposite, which is exactly what they did. Doing most of his damage against Jake Matthews, JPP was dominant both as a pass rusher and against the run. The move to Buffalo has been great for Hughes, and he had his best game of the year on Sunday, with three sacks, a hit and four hurries.
Honorable Mentions: Von Miller, DEN and Justin Houston, KC
Linebackers: Luke Kuechly, CAR (+5.5) and Thomas Davis, CAR (+4.1)
It’s the Carolina pairing of Kuechly and Davis starting at linebacker in our Team of the Week this week, with Kuechly the star of the show. He may have allowed nine receptions through the air, but they went for a total of just 47 yards. It was a similar story for Davis, who allowed four receptions for 20 yards, with both looking solid against the run too.
Honorable Mentions: Karlos Dansby, CLE and C.J. Mosley, BAL
Cornerbacks: Alterraun Verner, TB (+5.3) and Chris Harris Jr., DEN (+4.1)
Both of our starting corners put on a show on Sunday, with Verner allowing just 42 yards in coverage and coming away with an interception and two pass breakups. Harris didn’t allow a single single reception from the seven passes thrown into his coverage, including coming away with three pass breakups.
Honorable Mentions: E.J. Gaines, STL and Vontae Davis, IND
Safeties: Kendrick Lewis, HOU (+3.0) and Morgan Burnett, GB (+3.6)
Both our starting safeties have been much maligned at points in the past, but their work against the run this week really stood out. Burnett in particular was tough to deal with for the Vikings offense, with five of his eight tackles, both against the run and in coverage, resulting in a defensive stop.
Honorable Mentions: Michael Griffin, TEN and Mark Barron, TB
Kicker: Dan Carpenter, BUF: A close battle between a few kickers, but ultimately the game winner from 58 yards sealed the deal for Carpenter here.
Punter: Johnny Hekker, STL: Just one of Hekker’s punts were returned, with two landing inside the 20 yard line.
Returner: Isaiah Burse, DEN: On more than one occasion he left the punting team grasping at air with some quick cuts, doing more damage than his 48 yards on returns suggests.
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