10 things you need to know about NFL Week 2
With two weeks of play in the books—and two weeks’ worth of grades in the PFF database—here’s a look at the 10 things you need to know before moving on to your Week 3 prep.
1. Carson Wentz is PFF’s highest-graded QB through two weeks.
You read that correctly. Through Week 2, second-overall pick Carson Wentz—who only a few short weeks ago was set to back up Sam Bradford in Philadelphia—owns a 90.8 overall grade this season. That puts him ahead of Andrew Luck (87.9), Eli Manning (87.3), and yes, Bradford (87.2). While many predicted that the rookie out of North Dakota State would take a step back after his impressive debut versus the Browns (PFF analysts included), Wentz threw for 190 yards, a touchdown, and no picks against the Bears—he’s yet to throw a pick this year—on his way to an 87.0 game grade. Wentz’s yardage total should have been considerably higher, as his receivers dropped two deep passes that, if completed, would have totaled another 76 yards.
2. Rams DT Aaron Donald has picked up right where he left off last season.
Last season, Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald earned PFF’s Dwight Stephenson Award, given to the best player in the game over a given season, regardless of position. Through two weeks of the 2016 schedule, Donald has maintained that elite form, earning a 94.6 overall grade; to put that in perspective, Ndamukong Suh is the second-highest graded interior defender this year, owning an 84.5 grade. Though he certainly lost his cool against the 49ers in Week 1, Donald bounced back in Week 2 to dominate against Seattle’s suspect O-line, recording three QB hurries, three QB hits, four tackles, and four defensive stops. So far, Donald owns both the highest run-stop percentage and pass-rushing productivity among NFL DTs.
3. Aaron Rodgers earned the worst game grade of his career.
Taking the field against the Vikings in the first regular-season home game at U.S. Bank Stadium wasn’t going to be an easy task to begin with, but Packers QB Aaron Rodgers did nothing to alleviate the pressure on the Green Bay offense. In fact, Rodgers earned the lowest game grade (33.0) of his career; his previous worst outing came in Week 16 of the 2015 season, with a 43.8 overall grade. As colleague Bryson Vesnaver noted yesterday, Rodgers recorded the second-worst adjusted completion percentage (58.8) of the week among QBs, and was the least-accurate quarterback under pressure, failing to complete even a single pass attempt when the heat was on.
4. The injury bug bit hard in Week 2.
Much to the dismay of fantasy owners, injuries were a prevalent theme throughout Sunday’s slate of games. On offense alone, notable contributors leaving the field included quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, running backs Doug Martin, Adrian Peterson, Danny Woodhead, Jonathan Stewart, Ameer Abdullah, Thomas Rawls, Arian Foster, wide receiver Julio Jones, and new Raiders offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele. On Monday, NBC Sports reported that Browns QB Josh McCown is now likely to miss Week 3, although he didn’t exit Sunday’s game against the Ravens.
5. Jacoby Brissett graded well in Jimmy Garoppolo’s stead.
The most impactful injury—at least, for the next two weeks—to occur on Sunday was that of Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Before exiting the game, Garoppolo earned an impressive 84.0 overall grade, tying Cam Newton for the ninth-best adjusted completion percentage among QBs in Week 2. Enter rookie Jacoby Brissett: the former N.C. State star was accurate on 100 percent of his throws (nine attempts). He connected with his target on six passes for 92 yards, suffered two drops by his receivers, and threw one pass away. Brissett earned a 74.5 overall grade in his pro debut, albeit in 37 total snaps.
6. Josh Norman is playing much better than he’s being given credit for.
Despite a widespread feeling that Josh Norman’s usage in Washington—following his $15 million-per-year contract—is limiting his impact, it’s certainly worth noting that the former Panther is playing arguably the best football of his career. Through two weeks, Norman owns PFF’s highest cornerback grade, at 91.5, well above his 87.9 mark set last season. The biggest knock on Norman thus far is that he isn’t trailing No. 1 receivers for an entire game—a schematic decision by the Redskins coaching staff. When he has faced opponents’ top WRs, however, he’s fared extremely well. Against Antonio Brown and Dez Bryant, Norman had four passes thrown into his coverage; the Redskins’ No. 1 CB broke up all four. For more on Norman’s impressive start in Washington, check out colleague Sam Monson’s breakdown.
7. Vikings QB Sam Bradford off to hot start in with his new team.
Two weeks of practice time with a new franchise? No problem. Sam Bradford took the field Sunday night for the first time as a Viking, in the inaugural U.S. Bank Stadium home game, versus Minnesota’s biggest NFC North rival—and recorded the second-highest quarterback grade of the week (behind Ryan Fitzpatrick’s Thursday performance). Despite a dreadful display from the Vikings’ offensive line, Bradford recorded the second-highest adjusted completion percentage under pressure in Week 2 (bettered only by Falcons QB Matt Ryan), with both of his touchdown passes coming under pressure. Read more about Bradford’s Minnesota debut—and the Vikings’ serious O-line issues—here.
Minnesota O-line grades through Week 2 (1–100 scale)
8. Stefon Diggs establishing himself as top-tier NFL receiver?
From Week 6 and beyond last season (playoffs included), Vikings WR Stefon Diggs earned a top-20 grade among NFL WRs, joining Seattle’s Tyler Lockett as the only other 2015 rookie to do so. In the first two weeks of the 2016 season, however, Diggs has taken his play to another level, currently owning the highest overall grade among all NFL receivers entering Week 3. Against the Packers—and with a brand new QB at the helm of the offense—Diggs secured all nine of his targets for a league-leading 182 yards and one touchdown. 77 of those yards came after the catch, as he forced three missed tackles. If the second-year receiver can maintain this impressive connection with Bradford, he could enjoy a spot among the league’s best targets this season.
9. Panthers’ rookie CBs impressed against the 49ers.
Entering the 2016 NFL season, PFF analysts projected the Panthers’ secondary to be among the worst in the league. This was due largely to the departure of CB Josh Norman via free agency, as well as the projected starting CB duo of two rookies, drafted in the second and third rounds. While Week 1 panned out as expected for James Bradberry, Daryl Worley didn’t see the field. In Week 2, however, Bradberry earned the highest grade of any NFL CB, at 93.3, besting even Norman’s outstanding 91.9 mark. The former Samford Bulldog surrendered just one reception on seven targets into his coverage for 6 yards; he also grabbed an interception and pass defense. Worley, in his NFL debut, earned the fourth-highest grade among Carolina defenders, at 81.9. The Panthers took a gamble by deploying two rookie cornerbacks, but if Week 2 is any indication, it could pay off.
10. Von Miller was too much for the Colts’ O-line to handle.
Coming off a Week 1 start that earned him the league’s highest QB grade, Andrew Luck had some reason for optimism heading to Denver on Sunday. That optimism was quickly quelled, however, as Broncos OLB Von Miller reminded Luck and the Colts’ offensive line exactly why he earned Super Bowl 50 MVP honors. Miller notched four sacks, three QB hurries, and a batted pass against Indianapolis, providing the play of the afternoon with his late strip sack of Luck to effectively seal the game.