Best player at every position in NFL Week 5
Week 5 of the 2016 NFL season is complete, and PFF’s grades for every player to take a snap are in the books. Here are the top performances over the week at every position:
Week 5 offense
Quarterback: Tom Brady, New England Patriots, 88.0
You thought Tom Brady would be rusty after his four-game suspension? Shame on you. Brady looked to be in midseason form as he picked Cleveland to pieces like it was a practice session. He was nearly perfect against the Browns, completing 70 percent of his passes despite three drops from his receivers.
Running back: DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans, 83.0
DeMarco Murray looks back to his best form, and he broke 12 tackles in 27 carries against the Dolphins, racking up 121 rushing yards and catching five of the six passes sent his way, though they didn’t get very far after he fought back to the line.
Wide receiver: Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings, 85.7
Stefon Diggs missed this week to injury, and the main beneficiary of those targets was Adam Thielen, who caught seven of the eight passes thrown his way against a good Houston secondary. Thielen gained 127 yards and a touchdown, beating every one of Houston’s top four corners for at least one catch.
Wide receiver: Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders, 84.3
With no Jason Verrett, the Chargers didn’t have anybody that could cover Amari Cooper this week. He caught six passes from 11 targets for 138 yards and a touchdown, including a beautiful deep pass, but also crucially avoided any drops, which have been a blight on his young NFL career.
Slot receiver, Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers, 88.5
The Packers are a different beast on offense when Randall Cobb is at his best, and we saw that this week. Cobb topped 100 receiving yards, of which 74 came after the catch as he caught short passes and made things happen on his own after the catch to create plays. He beat eight different Giants defenders in coverage for catches.
Tight end: Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers, 95.9
The night didn’t end as he would have wanted, but Greg Olsen was close to the only good thing on the Panthers offense on Monday night, catching nine passes from 13 targets for 182 yards. He racked up 120 against LBs Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David alone.
Left tackle: Anthony Castonzo, Indianapolis Colts, 84.4
The Colts line is such a problem for Andrew Luck and the Colts that the play of Anthony Castonzo often gets overlooked. He allowed just one hit this week on 49 pass protecting snaps despite Andrew Luck averaging 2.9 seconds with the ball in his hands.
Left guard: Mike Iupati, Arizona Cardinals, 83.0
With no DeForest Buckner in the game, Mike Iupati got to tee off on the 49ers defensive line, driving bodies out of the way in the run game and keeping a clean sheet when it comes to pass protection, though he was only doing that on 21 snaps before being forced from the game.
Center: J.C. Tretter, Green Bay Packers, 86.5
It was close at the top of the center grading this week, with Ryan Kalil deserving an honorable mention, but Tretter was going up against the interior force of Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison — a far more formidable task — and came out on top.
Right guard: T.J. Lang, Green Bay Packers, 81.4
Like Tretter, Lang was dominant Sunday night, controlling his man at the line in both the run and pass game. He was perfect in pass protection over 50 snaps, some featuring some vintage Aaron Rodgers delays in the pocket.
Right tackle: Christopher Hubbard, Pittsburgh Steelers, 85.8
On paper, the loss of Marcus Gilbert looked like a weakness the Jets could look to exploit, but Christopher Hubbard was near perfect in his place. He was pass-blocking for 52 snaps and didn’t allow a single pressure or penalty, and even had a nice block or two in the run game.
Week 5 defense
Edge defender: Jadeveon Clowney, Houston Texans, 87.0
The Texans may have been crushed by the Vikings this week, but Clowney destroyed T.J. Clemmings, especially in the run game. He only notched two pressures in the game, but he had seven solo tackles and an assist, recording six defensive stops to lead the team.
Defensive interior: Karl Klug, Tennessee Titans, 86.1
Karl Klug is one of the best situational players in the league. He’s just too good for a makeshift and patchwork offensive line like Miami fielded this week. Klug had two hits and four hurries and his quick penetration and leverage was a constant problem for the Dolphins.
Defensive interior: Stacy McGee, Oakland Raiders, 85.0
In a week for unheralded linemen, Oakland’s Stacy McGee had a huge impact against the Chargers, notching a pair of sacks, a hurry and two forced fumbles in just 12 pass-rushing snaps.
Edge defender: Vic Beasley, Atlanta Falcons, 88.7
Playing against Ty Sambrailo turned Vic Beasley into the player the Falcons have been waiting for him to become since they drafted him, if they could get this guy every week they’d be in business. Beasley had four sacks and a hurry as a pass rusher, leading the team with five defensive stops overall.
Linebacker: Perry Riley, Oakland Raiders, 89.2
Perry Riley might win the award for most unlikely appearance on the team of the week. With three consecutive seasons of poor grades, Riley’s first action of the season for the Raiders was a dominant display. He had two hurries on the blitz, and countered giving up some catches in coverage by forcing a fumble from Antonio Gates.
Linebacker: Kevin Minter, Arizona Cardinals, 86.5
The second spot at linebacker this week was razor thin, with five players being separated by 0.2 in PFF rating, but not long after earning a spot on the worst team of the week, Kevin Minter appears on the other end of the spectrum. He notched six defensive stops against the 49ers to go with two sacks and a hurry.
Cornerback: Terence Newman, Minnesota Vikings, 88.7
Terence Newman is 38 years old. Darrelle Revis is slowing down and becoming a liability at just 31, and yet Newman was able to hold rookie speedster Will Fuller without a catch into his coverage. For the game Newman was thrown at six times and allowed no catches at all, breaking up two of the incompletions. (Fuller’s 4-yard catch came away from Newman’s coverage)
Cornerback: Brent Grimes, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 88.2
Brent Grimes made the defining play of Monday’s game, showing excellent instincts to drop and pick off Derek Anderson in the end zone late in the game in which was the difference between winning and losing the game.
Slot cornerback: Nickell Robey-Coleman, Buffalo Bills, 91.1
Two interceptions speak pretty much for itself, but Nickell Robey-Coleman also kept a clean sheet otherwise on throws into his coverage. He was targeted three times and didn’t allow a single catch, meaning Case Keenum had a passer rating of 0.0 when throwing his way.
Safety: Keanu Neal, Atlanta Falcons, 86.8
Keanu Neal was not a player PFF loved in college or the draft, but he had a huge game against the Broncos. Neal broke up a pass intended for Demaryius Thomas that was nullified by penalty, but also forced a fumble on Emmanuel Sanders and allowed just 36 yards in coverage despite being targeted eight times.
Safety: Harrison Smith, Minnesota Vikings, 83.0
Minnesota’s defense is on fire right now, and Harrison Smith is the best performer on it. Smith broke up the only pass thrown his way when he was the primary coverage defender but also had two hurries on the blitz and made three defensive stops.
Week 5 special teams
Punter: Ryan Quigley, Arizona Cardinals
The performance of Ryan Quigley this week highlights the folly of just looking at net yardage for punters. Quigley was routinely kicking from far enough down the field that his aim was to pin the 49ers deep, and six of his nine punts resulted in the drive starting inside the 20-yard line. Three were returned, for a total of zero yards.
Kicker: Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis Colts
Five kicks on five attempts was Vinatieri’s stat line, but four of the five were nailed from 40-plus and two of them from 50-plus, giving him the best kicking grade of the week. Vinatieri continues to be one of the league’s best.
Special teamer: Colt Anderson, Buffalo Bills
A pair of special teams tackles gives Colt Anderson the spot on team of the week with each one defeating a block, one each on a kick-off and punt.
Return specialist: Marcus Sherels, Minnesota Vikings
Jakeem Grant also recorded an impressive punt return touchdown, but with a 79-yard score himself as well as another positive return Marcus Sherels narrowly edges him for the team of the week.