PFF Team of Week 9
There’s no doubt the year is flying by and we’re seeing some quality play week in and week out. Naturally what we’ve seen since the Chiefs and Chargers kicked off the Week 9 action has followed suit, and it’s only fair that we reward some of the best performances.
So let’s get to it.
Quarterback: Andrew Luck, IND (+5.8)
So that was good. The first overall pick in the 2012 draft has flashed his talent so far but took his play to another level against Miami with some tremendous third-down work.
Running Back: Doug Martin, TB (+4.0)
I don’t even care that he gave up a hurry, Martin made himself impossible to ignore with a 251-yard rushing day with four touchdowns. It had to be special to keep Adrian Peterson off the list and boy was it.
Full Back: Vonta Leach, BLT (+2.5)
I theorized that Leach was overpaid because fullbacks don’t get enough work to warrant a significant salary. Well, he got on the field for 44 snaps and really dominated with his lead blocking this week.
Tight End: Jermaine Grehsham, CIN (+2.3)
A 100-yard receiving day and some competent work with his blocking. Gresham has yet to become the player Cincinnati hoped he would be, but more games like this will keep the Bengals faithful happy.
Wide Receivers: Calvin Johnson, DET (+4.5) and A.J. Green, CIN (+4.1)
Wasn’t Johnson meant to be limited? Well, 129 yards later with two broken tackles, his limited is better than a lot of people’s perfect health. Green wasn’t limited and responded with 99 yards on nine targets and his customary touchdown. He is rapidly emerging as one, if not the, top receiver in the league.
Tackles: Trent Williams, WAS (+4.3) and T.J. Lang, GB (+4.6)
Another fine day for Williams, who continues to emerge as one of the league’s best left tackles. He was perfect in pass protection against and contributed in the run game as well. Lang switched to right tackle when Bryan Bulaga went down hurt and did an admirable job (even if he did give up a sack). His run blocking was top notch.
Guards: Evan Mathis, PHI (+4.6) and Josh Sitton, GB (+3.9)
While Mathis gave up three hurries, his work in the run game was stellar for the second consecutive week. Sitton seemed to click with T.J. Lang and had one of his better run blocking games of the year.
Center: Fernando Velasco, TEN (+5.5)
A big part of the Titans’ improving run game has been the upturn in performances from Velasco. His last four weeks have shown he’s more than good enough to start in this league.
Defensive Front 4-3
Defensive Ends: Derrick Morgan, TEN (+6.0) and Cameron Wake, MIA (+5.7)
Am I cheating by putting in two guys who rush from the left side? Probably, but these guys were so much better than everyone else. Morgan picked up two hits and four hurries while Wake was up at seven quarterback disruptions. Add in two grades in the green for their work in run defense and they made this choice easy.
Defensive Tackle: Jurrell Casey, TEN (+4.7) and Jonathan Babineaux, ATL (+4.2)
Casey even picked himself up a sack, but let’s not kid ourselves. He made this team with his run defense, where he continues to get off blocks and disrupt runs. Babineaux did make it for his work rushing the passer, walking away with a sack, three hurries, and a batted pass for his troubles.
Linebackers: Akeem Ayers, TEN (+4.3), Brian Urlacher, CHI (+4.9) and Von Miller, DEN (+4.0)
Ayers seems to really have embraced his new role that sees him playing less, but rushing the passer more. His work in the run game was quality and he added a sack, hit, and hurry as well. That didn’t match the total of Miller (three sacks, a hit and two hurries), but it was still pretty impressive. In the middle of these two is Urlacher, who rolled back the years with a pick-six and four defensive stops.
Defensive Front 3-4
Defensive Line: Dan Williams, ARZ (+2.2), J.J. Watt, HST (+4.7) and Stephen Bowen, WAS (+4.3)
The nature of the NFL means we just don’t see all that much of Dan Williams, but he showed what he’s about in his 21 snaps on the nose against Green Bay. Watt reclaimed his starting spot in this team after a week on the bye. He hit the ground running on his return. He’s joined by Bowen, who hasn’t always lived up to his contract in Washington but really stepped it up against Carolina.
Outside Linebackers: Jarret Johnson, SD (+3.9) and Tamba Hali, KC (+3.9)
Two performances from Thursday Night Football with Hali the only Chief generating consistent pressure (though that is helped somewhat by KC consistently refusing to rush Justin Houston). Johnson isn’t exactly known as much of a playmaker, but his forced fumble of Matt Cassel in the end zone made life a lot easier for his Chargers.
Inside Linebackers: Dannell Ellerbe, BLT (+4.5) and Donald Butler, SD (+3.1)
Ellerbe turned seven pass rushes into a sack, two hits, and two hurries. With four extra stops in the run game he’s really taking his opportunity as an every-down linebacker two games in. Butler had a 10-tackle day that resulted in six defensive stops. Very active, if not always perfect.
Cornerbacks: Charles Tillman, CHI (+5.5) and Jabari Greer, NO (+3.4)
He just keeps on forcing fumbles, doesn’t he? Tillman is having the kind of season where he’s a realistic contender for defensive player of the year. Greer had his best game of the year, breaking up one of the six balls into his coverage and allowing only two receptions for 10 yards.
Safeties: Reshad Jones, MIA (+5.2) and Ed Reed, BLT (+4.1)
Two playmaking safeties this week with Jones having some of his work called back for penalties, and Reed ending the Browns’ hope with a game-icing interception.
Nobody made more special teams tackles this week than Jamar Chaney … Blair Walsh keeps putting the ball through the uprights while pinging touchback after touchback … How good a pickup has Donnie Jones been for the Texans … Maybe Arizona should have avoided kicking the ball to Randall Cobb.
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