Top 10 players from Week 7's NFL action
Every Tuesday, PFF will be releasing its Team of the Week, representing the highest-graded players at each NFL position for that week. But Senior Analyst Sam Monson gets a jump on that by picking out the 10 most impressive individual performances from Sunday’s games.
Here are the 10 best players from Sunday’s Week 7 action:
1. Jay Ajayi, RB, Miami Dolphins
Miami’s fortunes have been transformed with the shift in focus to running back Jay Ajayi and the running game. For the second week in a row he topped 200 rushing yards, this week rattling off 214 — 129 of which came after contact. He broke 10 tackles on 29 carries, once again running with incredible ferocity and determination and carrying Miami to an upset win within the division over Buffalo, ending the second-longest win streak in the league in the process. Ajayi looked like a force when we visited Dolphins camp this offseason, but now we are finally seeing that in action on the field.
2. Chandler Jones, OLB, Arizona Cardinals
With a 6-6 tie the result in Sunday night’s Seahawks-Cardinals matchup, it’s likely we’re going to see some Cardinals and Seahawks defenders appear on this list this week. Jones rushed the passer 37 times, notching a sack, hit and six pressures, and forcing a fumble from Seahawks QB Russell Wilson in the process. Jones has been one of the standout performers of the season for Arizona, and was once again dominant against Seattle’s problematic offensive line.
3. Malcolm Butler, CB, New England Patriots
Last season when Butler went up against Steelers WR Antonio Brown, he gave up 151 yards and a touchdown, allowing a catch on 10 of the 11 passes thrown his way. This week he had the same 11 targets when covering Brown, but allowed only five catches, no touchdowns, picked off a pass himself and broke up three of the incompletions. Landry Jones being at QB for the Steelers instead of Ben Roethlisberger, who was out due to injury, certainly aided Butler’s cause, but this was a far more accomplished performance in New England’s win. Butler currently ranks in the top 10 of PFF’s cornerback grades.
4. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
This was one of the games where the Falcons fed Julio Jones, and leaned on him to carry the offense in the loss to San Diego. He was thrown at 15 times, catching nine for 174 yards, including some tough contested catches over defensive backs. He was also inches away from another couple of big plays with players like Chargers CB Casey Hayward barely succeeding in forcing him out of bounds before he got a second foot down. Jones beat five different defenders for catches. Jones is currently the runaway leader among wide receivers in PFF’s yards per route run metric (available in Premium Stats):
5. Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Luck is back to his best after a disastrous 2015 season that ended being cut short by injury. He led the Colts on a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter of their victory over Tennessee, only to see his defense back him up on the next play and score themselves to hammer home the win. Luck completed 76.2 percent of his passes when under no pressure, and 61.1 percent even when he was hurried. He threw three touchdown passes and should have thrown a fourth, but his TE Jack Doyle dropped it in the end zone.
6. Kevin Zeitler, G, Cincinnati Bengals
The Browns don’t have the league’s best defensive front, but Zeitler ground them into the dirt in Cincinnati’s win. He didn’t allow a single pressure on 31 pass-blocking snaps and was a dominant force as a run-blocker. The Bengals averaged 10 yards per carry either side of his blocks in this game.
7. Cliff Avril, DE, Seattle Seahawks
Another defender from “Sunday Night Football” to make this list, Avril was always coming against the Cardinals. He had three sacks, two hits, five hurries and a batted pass, as he annihilated Cardinals RT D.J. Humphries for the most part while making the occasional cameo in the lowlight reels of TE Jermaine Gresham and RG Earl Watford.
8. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, New York Giants
No corner was targeted more than Rodgers-Cromartie this week, with 15 passes thrown his way in New York’s win over the Rams in London — two more than any other player. He allowed just seven of them to be caught (46.7 percent), for 53 yards, and he notched two interceptions, including the game-ending one that was lofted right to him as the receiver and QB Case Keenum were on different pages. When thrown at, Rodgers-Cromartie gave up a passer rating of just 16.1.
9. Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The 49ers defenders actually held up OK in the run game against the Bucs blockers, but Tampa Bay ran riot in their win over the 49ers thanks largely to Rodgers. He ended the game with 154 rushing yards on 26 carries, racking up 106 of them (68.8 percent) after contact, breaking four tackles in the process. Rodgers ran hard all game long and gave the Bucs a great platform to work from.
10. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
Catching all four passes thrown his way in New England’s win, Gronkowski ended the day with 93 receiving yards and a touchdown. Tom Brady had a passer rating of 158.3 when throwing his way, otherwise known as perfect. Add in some strong run-blocking at the point of attack, and this was your typical dominant performance from Gronk, who reinforced why he is the league’s best tight end.