The best individual performances from Sunday’s Week 2 action
Which players earned the highest grades during Sunday's games? Sam Monson looks at the 10 best on offense and 10 best on defense.
The best individual performances from Sunday’s Week 2 action
Every Tuesday afternoon, once the reviews of our grades for the previous week are completed and that week’s grades are finalized, PFF will publish its Team of the Week, reflecting the highest-graded players at every position for that week.
But every Monday morning, our Senior Analyst Sam Monson will pick out the 10 performances that stood out to him as the most impressive on both sides of the ball from Sunday, using the initial grades available to him and the entirety of the PFF database.
Here are the 10 best on offense and defense, listed with their PFF grades:
Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings (89.8)
Against the Packers on Sunday night, Diggs looked like Antonio Brown. He torched Damarious Randall, who had been excellent in Week 1, ending the game having caught all nine passes thrown his way for 182 yards and a score, gaining 77 yards after the catch.
Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers (88.8)
Benjamin caught seven of the eight passes sent his way for 108 yards and two scores, but also snagged multiple receptions despite defensive backs all over him or laying a hit immediately as the ball arrived.
Sam Bradford, QB, Minnesota Vikings (87.2)
In his first action for the team since the trade with Philadelphia, Bradford was impressively efficient, and at his best under pressure. That’s a good thing, because he was under pressure on 48.6 percent of his dropbacks, second-most in the league this week. (Why Minnesota’s O-line could derail its Super Bowl hopes.)
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans (86.8)
Covered by cornerback Marcus Peters for most of Houston’s win over the Chiefs, Hopkins had a big game, including a touchdown on a double move despite Peters being flagged for defensive pass interference on the play. Hopkins moved the chains on four of his other receptions, and got them into field goal range with another late in the game.
Ricky Wagner, T, Baltimore Ravens (86.2)
Back in 2014, Wagner had a fine season, but his play fell off a cliff a year ago. The 2016 version looks far more like the 2014 player than the one last year. He didn’t allow any pressures against Cleveland, having a perfect day in pass protection on his 48 pass-blocking snaps.
Matt Paradis, C, Denver Broncos (85.8)
We are only two games into the season, but so far Paradis has been the best center in the league. He has yet to surrender a single pressure across two games and was once again impressive as a run-blocker this week in the win over the Colts, allowing the Broncos to generate 46 of their 134 team rushing yards either side of him in the A-gaps.
Jack Conklin, T, Tennessee Titans (85.3)
The book on Conklin coming out of the draft was that he was a powerful run-blocker who would struggle – probably badly – as a pass-blocker early in the NFL. Against the Lions he was perfect in pass protection, giving up nothing in 42 snaps in pass protection.
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, New England Patriots (84.0)
There were players that earned a better grade than Garoppolo, but none on fewer snaps. Before he went down with a shoulder injury, Garoppolo was orchestrating a destruction of the Miami Dolphins. He had the Patriots up 21-0, and even on the play he got hurt on, he converted a 3rd and long to set the team up near the Dolphins red zone, only for the Patriots to fumble. This was an excellent performance, sadly cut short by injury.
Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals (85.4)
While Michael Floyd was kept quiet by the Bucs, Fitzgerald was more successful, catching five passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. This being Fitzgerald, there was also some impressive blocking on display, notching a “welcome to the NFL, rookie” pancake against Bucs’ first-round cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III at one point.
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants (84.9)
He may not have thrown for any touchdowns, but this was one of the best games Eli Manning has had in a long time. He completed 78.0 percent of his passes, and three of his nine incompletions were drops. He was especially effective throwing at the intermediate level of the defense, hitting on seven of ten attempts between 10-19 yards in the air for 121 yards.
James Bradberry, CB, Carolina Panthers (93.3)
Ironically, the only cornerback to outperform Josh Norman this week was the rookie tasked with filling his shoes in Carolina. Going up against the 49ers receivers will help, but Bradberry allowed just one catch on seven targets, and it went for only six yards. He notched a pick and a pass defensed, and when targeted yielded a passer rating of 0.0.
Josh Norman, CB, Washington Redskins (91.9)
Norman was thrown at twice when covering Dez Bryant, and he broke both of them up. Washington finally started asking him to track Bryant to start the fourth quarter, and he didn’t allow a single target to Bryant when he was covering him from that point on.
Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams (91.6)
Another game with no sacks for Aaron Donald, and another game where it didn’t matter. He posted six total pressures from 33 pass rushes, and every tackle he made was a defensive stop, not to mention the disruption his consistent penetration caused the Seattle offense overall.
Vincent Rey, LB, Cincinnati Bengals (91.1)
It was a strong week for linebacker play, with Cincinnati’s Rey having himself a day in the wet and rainy conditions against Pittsburgh. He allowed two catches on the four times he was targeted in coverage, but they went for just 10 total yards, and he was an impressive force against blocks in the run game.
Bobby Wagner, LB, Seattle Seahawks (89.5)
While the overall result for Seattle was a disaster, the defense played pretty well overall, and Wager was its standout performer. He graded well in all facets of the game, even beating RG Cody Wichmann for a quick hit on the blitz.
Alterraun Verner, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (88.6)
When a defense coughs up 40 points to the opposition, you’re not expecting to see many strong performances, but Verner was impressive against the Cardinals. Covering primarily Michael Floyd, Verner allowed just one catch on six targets, blanking Floyd entirely on the three passes that came his way. He broke up a pair of the incompletions, too.
Von Miller, OLB, Denver Broncos (88.2)
Miller just wins games, virtually single-handedly. Against the Colts he had four sacks and three more hurries, but with the game still close later on, he decided to finish it by strip-sacking Andrew Luck and sealing the win for his team, just like the AFC Championship game and Super Bowl from last year’s playoff run.
Janoris Jenkins, CB, New York Giants (87.7)
Sometimes cornerbacks can have strong games despite giving up catches if they keep everything in front of them and make tackles short of the markers. Jenkins allowed seven catches on the 10 targets sent his way to six different New Orleans receivers, but they went for a total of 49 yards (4.9 per target), and only one receiver beat him for a gain of more than 15 yards all game.
Joe Haden, CB, Cleveland Browns (87.2)
Joe Haden reminded everybody this week that he’s a pretty good CB at his best. He was thrown at nine times, and though he allowed four catches for 57 yards, he also intercepted two himself and broke up another two. 31 of the 57 yards he gave up came on one play against Steve Smith, but the rest of the game he was shutdown.
Julius Peppers, OLB, Green Bay Packers (86.6)
Peppers is now a situational player late into his career with the Packers, but that made him perfectly placed to get after a suspect Vikings line all night. He had a pair of sacks, but also two hits and two hurries as he tormented both of the Minnesota tackles over 27 snaps of action, 19 of which were pass rushes.