PFF Team of Week 3
Khaled Elsayed gathers the best of Week 3 and sets them into a full lineup of top performances.
PFF Team of Week 3
Each week the staff at Pro Football Focus watches over 400 hours of football to ensure we know who the best players are. It makes us the premier outfit in player evaluation, used by NFL teams and fans alike to understand which guys are getting the job done and which aren’t.
It’s with this knowledge we can put out our Team of the Week, going beyond the box scores and highlight-reel plays to see who were the best players on every play of every game.
Here’s the Team of Week 3.
(Note: Team will be updated on Wednesday when All-22 footage helps us study plays in even more detail where needed. An asterisk will note any changes.)
Quarterback: Peyton Manning, DEN (+6.9)
Manning continued his fine start to the year with the highest graded performance of any quarterback so far this year. He was near flawless in completing 86.5% of his passes and going 9-of-12 on passes aimed over 10 yards in the air.
Honorable Mention: Tony Romo (DAL)
Running Back: DeMarco Murray, DAL (+3.0)
Even though he fumbled he still makes this team, that’s how good he was as he forced seven missed tackles on his 26 rushes and ended up with 175 yards.
Honorable Mention: Ronnie Hillman (DEN)
Full Back: Bruce Miller, SF (+2.5)
Phew. After a tough start to the season we were wondering if Miller had lost what had made him one of the best lead blockers in the league the past two years. This showing is evidence of that not being the case.
Honorable Mention: Anthony Sherman (KC)
Tight End: Luke Willson, SEA (+4.6)
He didn’t have the yardage of Jimmy Graham but his 76 yards is nothing to sniff at and he followed it up with some quality blocking. The fifth-round pick is making an impression.
Honorable Mention: Jimmy Graham (NO)
Wide Receivers: Antonio Brown, PIT (+5.1) and Nate Washington, TEN (+4.3)
A big day for Brown who caught 9-of-12 targets for 196 yards and two touchdowns. Partnering him is the always productive Washington who himself had 131 yards and broke three tackles for good measure.
Honorable Mention: Eric Decker (DEN) and Julio Jones (ATL)
Tackles: Nate Solder, NE (+4.5) and Doug Free, DAL (+5.4)
Solder allowed one pressure in pass protection but was perfect apart from that. Going one better than that, Free was flawless and moved himself to the top of our tackle rankings after an excellent display.
Honorable Mention: Anthony Castonzo (IND) and Byron Bell (CAR)
Guards: Logan Mankins, NE (+4.6) and Louis Vasquez, DEN (+4.6)
A sublime performance from Mankins who bullied the Bucs’ active defensive front in a showing of how dominant he can be. The Broncos averaged a very healthy 4.7 yards per carry and you can put some of that down to the excellence of Vasquez who also held up very nicely in pass protection.
Honorable Mention: Amini Silatolu (CAR) and T.J. Lang (GB)*
Center: Manny Ramirez, DEN (+4.8)
He gave up a hurry but his run blocking was of such a high quality that Ramirez earned his selection. Handling himself very well since the permanent move to center.
Honorable Mention: Travis Frederick (DAL)
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: J.J. Watt, HST (+7.4) and Darnell Dockett, ARZ (+8.5)
It feels like we’ve written too few words regarding Watt this year. Well he’s forced our hand with a dominant display that will see, once our All-22 review is complete, him added to our Page of Fame. Dockett did what he does, picking on a rookie and taking advantage in ruthless fashion. There may not be another defensive player in the league who senses and capitalizes on weakness like the Cardinal.
Honorable Mention: Tyson Jackson (KC) and Fletcher Cox (PHI)
Defensive Interior – Nose: Damon Harrison, NYJ (+3.8)
When you get an opportunity in this league you have to take it. Harrison is a prime example of this who has become an integral part of the Jets’ defense with his excellent work in the run game. The stat sheet may not be his friend, but he’s impacting plays that go beyond what the box score can quantify.
Honorable Mention: Jurrell Casey (TEN)
Edge Rushers: Justin Houston, KC (+8.2) and Michael Johnson, CIN (+8.1)
So good is the performance of Houston that it earned him the 12th-highest rating of any edge rush linebacker we’ve seen over six seasons. Trying to keep up with him was Johnson who wasn’t quite the pass rusher but really delivered the goods against the run.
Honorable Mention: Charles Johnson (CAR) and Jabaal Sheard (CLE)
Linebackers: David Harris, NYJ (+3.6) and Bobby Wagner, GB (+3.5)
Enjoying one of the finest starts to a season of his career (who are we kidding, the finest) Harris is flourishing right now. Wagner had himself a fine day with four defensive stops and an interception for good measure.
Honorable Mention: Lawrence Timmons (PIT) and Jerrell Freeman (IND)
Cornerbacks: Leon Hall, CIN (+4.0) and Cary Williams, PHI (+3.6)
Continuing his fine start to the year Hall really impressed in allowing just 21 yards into his coverage on seven targets. Williams wasn’t as tested but allowed only two completions and 11 yards into his coverage.
Honorable Mention: Marcus Sherels (MIN) and Aqib Talib (NE)
Safeties: Barry Church, DAL (+4.1) and T.J. Ward, CLE (+3.5)
Did any Cowboys fan see this coming from Church? Another assured display and he’s now the top-ranked safety in the league. Ward had himself a big day in coverage, picking off a ball and allowing just 3-of-5 completed into his coverage for just 10 yards.
Honorable Mention: Troy Polamalu (PIT) and James Ihedigbo (BAL)
Kicker, Caleb Sturgis, MIA: Proving why the team wasn’t wrong in letting Dan Carpenter go.
Punter, Shawn Powell, BUF: A solid outing from the Bill; averaging 51 yards per punt.
Returner, Darren Sproles, NO: Showed why you just can’t let him operate in space.
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled