The 10 best players from Sunday’s Week 4 NFL games

Julio Jones ranks among the biggest standout performers from Week 4's NFL action.

| 3 weeks ago
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The 10 best players from Sunday’s Week 4 NFL games

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 4 action:

[Check out the 10 worst performances from Sunday of Week 4 right here, or access our Player Grades tool to see how every NFL player measures up through three weeks of the season.]

1. Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons

A few days ago I named Jones as the league’s most uncoverable receiver one-on-one, only to see the Carolina Panthers leave him in one-on-one coverage for most of the game. It led to rather predictable – albeit spectacular – results. Jones caught 12 passes for 300 yards and a touchdown. He gained 9.1 yards for every route he ran in the game, topping any other receiver this week by more than 3.5 yards. Jones has been getting open all season, but Falcons QB Matt Ryan hadn’t been able to make the connection until this week. When he did we saw fireworks.

2. Jimmy Graham, TE, Seattle Seahawks

The Graham situation hasn’t exactly gone to plan in Seattle since the team traded with the Saints for him during the 2015 offseason for center Max Unger. He was an awkward fit initially within the offense, and then suffered a major injury that further derailed his progress. But this week we were reminded that he was once one of the league’s best receiving weapons. Graham caught six of the eight passes thrown his way for 113 yards, and he also did this:


3. Aqib Talib, CB, Denver Broncos

Playing against your former team is always likely to bring the best out of players with a little extra motivation, and Talib was a force for Denver against the Bucs. He picked off a Jameis Winston pass early in the game and took it back for the opening score, and also remained pretty much perfect thereafter. Talib was targeted four times, and caught more passes himself (two) than he allowed Bucs receivers to catch (one). In total he allowed just six yards through the air.

4. Chandler Jones, OLB, Arizona Cardinals

The Patriots decided they could live without Jones, trading him to Arizona this offseason for a second-round pick, but the Cardinals are pretty happy that they did, because he has made a big difference to the team’s pass rush so far, even amid their surprising 1-3 start. Against Los Angeles, Jones notched a sack, a hit and four hurries as well as playing the run pretty well, with a defensive stop on every tackle he made (four). Jones has been the team’s best pass-rusher this season and is grading better than he ever did in New England.

5. Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams

The sacks finally came this week for Donald, who had been generating huge pressure over the first three weeks of the season without converting any of them into sacks. This week he got to the QB twice in the Rams’ upset of Arizona, and added four more hits as well as two hurries to his tally. He now leads the entire league with 25 total pressures and is grading better than any other player in football. Donald is the league’s most dominant force right now.

6. Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks

Hobbled with injury and facing a New York Jets defensive front that was able to pressure him on 15 of his 35 dropbacks, Wilson was close to perfect this week. His passer rating when kept clean was 125.6 and he completed 85 percent of his passes. Though his numbers dropped when pressured, his passer rating was still a ludicrous 119.8 thanks to a couple of big-time throws under duress.


7. Shaq Thompson, LB, Carolina Panthers

It’s tough to look at a 48-point performance from a defense and find positives, but Panthers LB Thompson was excellent in the game, and he wasn’t alone — it’s just that the weak links in the Carolina defense were exposed badly and repeatedly in its loss to Atlanta (see the Julio Jones section above). Thompson notched five defensive stops and in coverage allowed just one pass for four yards on plays where he was the primary coverage defender, doing a good job of limiting TEs and RBs when covering them.

8. Rashard Robinson, CB, San Francisco 49ers

Robinson drew Cowboys backup WR Brice Butler for most of the game, which certainly helps his grade, but this was an accomplished performance from the rookie corner, who allowed just three catches for 20 yards on six targets, breaking up the three passes that fell incomplete. Robinson has impressive physical tools, and based on this performance it appears he could be a real find for the 49ers.

9. Justin Britt, C, Seattle Seahawks

We spend enough time being critical of the Seattle offensive line that it’s worth pointing out when one of its members plays well. Britt stood out against a tough Jets defensive front, while the rest of the Seattle line was struggling. He allowed no pressure in 35 pass-blocking snaps and run blocked well, allowing the Seahawks to average 4.3 yards per carry on either side of his block.

10. Martellus Bennett, TE, New England Patriots

Another standout from a unit that on the whole was embarrassed, Martellus Bennett had an excellent game despite the Patriots being shut out entirely by Buffalo, 16-0. Bennett had another strong game run-blocking, and was Jacoby Brissett’s primary target in the passing game, catching all five passes thrown his way for 109 yards, 79 of which came after the catch.

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN.

  • Spencer

    How does Matt Ryan not make this list while throwing 503 yards and 4 touchdowns?

    • Andy

      And he also got a better grade than Russell Wilson

      • rodrigo pedro

        They are putting those numbers on Julio.
        Which id say might be fair.
        This is the first time a QB got 500+ yards and a WR got 300+ in the same game.

        • Ben Peterson

          Am I the only one surprised by that stat? It seems like if a receiver goes for 300, the QB should be able to find 200 in other places pretty easily. Maybe it’s just a time issue.

          • eYeDEF

            Except that’s not how its been with the few receivers that have ever caught for 300 or even 200 yards. In those games what you’ll find is the QB reserving an overwhelming number of targets to that receiver and not spreading the ball around. So yes, it is impressive when you consider the context.

          • Ben Peterson

            I’m definitely not saying it’s not impressive, I’m just saying that I was surprised that it was the first time that’d happened.

      • Daniel Varnadore

        Yeah but for some reason the folks at PFF don’t think Matt Ryan deserves credit and/or recognition when he outperforms the entire league, although they are quick to heap criticism and blame on him. I mean look what they said about him at the end of the Julio blurb. “Jones has been open all season but Ryan hasn’t been able to make the connection”. I mean Jones did have 188 and 2 TDs going into sunday, not great numbers but not bad either. They don’t take into account Matty Ice being able to beat teams even without Julio having monster games. Thru 4 games he has used 8 9 8 9 different receivers respectively. Atlanta finally has exceptional talent outside of Julio but I guess they still want him to force feed Jones even when its unnecessary for victory.

    • Darryn Frost

      Matty looked pretty dang good to me. And Julio Jones should be the one doing Cam Newtons superman celebration.

  • gmasted

    When did Talib “picked off a Jameis Winston pass early in the game and took it back for the opening score”?? What J school did you graduate from?

  • willyeye

    Typical criticism of the Seahawks on the Graham-Unger trade. Bear in mind…you have Hawks Center Justin Britt graded higher than Max Unger…and Graham was under-used last year due to OC Bevell, not due to Graham. Also, when you look at the trade, it was really more of a Graham for a 1st round pick and Unger for a 4th round pick. The trade has worked out much better for the Seahawks…I’m sure Brees is missing Graham plenty…the Hawks aren’t missing Unger.

    • Joe Doe

      So wait, Jimmy Graham has three 100 yard games as a Hawk. 8 out of his 15 games are under 50 yards. Justin Britt graded in the 40s last year and you’re toking on his 81 grade after 4 games? And you’re saying it’s not the Seahawks fault for bringing in a TE that doesn’t fit well into Bevell’s system?

      Unger’s grade was double Britt’s last year. Watson’s grade wasn’t a huge dropoff from Graham’s in 2015, and the Saints got a higher pick out of it.

      The key to statistical analysis is sample size.

      • John

        Graham was leading Seattle pass catchers in most categories Before he got hurt last year, & if he wouldn’t have went down he was going to be a giant part of the 2nd half surge they had in the pass game along w/ Baldwin & Lockett. Unrealistic expectations,(they’ve passed the ball less than most every team in the league yet ppl thought he’d just come in & it would be just seamless & hed catch 25TDs w/ 1900yards) & lack of Targets/Especially RZ+OL struggles leading to O as a whole struggling. & Ok, Unger was graded better than Britt last yr we get it, but Unger was also a finished product while Britt was a 2nd yr guy still developing & obviously as we know now wasn’t playing C a position he seems to be a natural at/was born to play. & in reality what did that mean? Nothing. NOLA was hot garbage & still had OL problems even w/ Unger while Seattle clicked when it mattered(as always) & got to the playoffs.

    • Darnell

      I’m a Hawks fan; early criticism of that trade was fair, even if it was a little premature.

  • Alex Recchio

    how does Zach Brown not make the list, much less be a top 5? 18 tackles, a sack, and two forced fumbles, he was EVERYWHERE and I’m sure Brissett is going to be seeing him in his nightmares from here on out

    • The Legendary Dealat

      How has he been overall across the first few games? I wanted the Falcons to target him in the offseason.

      • Alex Recchio

        He was tied for leading league in tackles before the pats game,he seemingly came out of nowhere and has been a God send for our defense,after losing Reggie Ragland and Shaq Lawson our lb Corp was supposed to be trash Anda they’ve done great

    • Mark Mccollough

      I was wondering the same. They list Chandler Jones who did have a fine game, but Brown had 14 more tackles, the same number of sacks, 2 more forced fumbles, and 7 more defensive stops. I mean its not even close, And this isn’t a knock on Chandler Jones as he had a great game, I just chose him because they list some of his game stats that I can use as a comparison.

      I work with data, and once you compile your data to use to articulate an analysis, you need to process what you put together and ask yourself, does this make sense and did I miss anything obvious. I have the feeling PFF doesn’t do this and it often results in incomprehensible results in some of their posts like this.

  • ParvinenLM

    I dont understand how Trumaine Johnson got a higher grade than Aaron Donald, and yet Aaron Donald is on the list…WTF?