Welcome to a new version of our “Team Of The Week” feature. These selections are made strictly on the performance of that weekend and on what I saw in the game rather than box score results. With a few important criteria: – Opposition matters: Sorry Ryan Tannehill and the Miami offense, but putting up good numbers on the terrible Texans isn’t going to cut it if someone else is busy slicing up a good defense. – Garbage time doesn’t count: Nate Washington won’t be appearing in this team despite a 127 yard, 2 TD game when Miami’s defense was already thinking about what they were going to have for dinner rather than covering him. Obviously I am just one man with limited time so I can’t see every game in minute detail, it’s possible for some players to slip through the cracks. People are bound to have different opinions so please feel free to comment or tweet!
QB: Tom Brady, New England Patriots
Brady had 54 attempts completed at 63% but that doesn’t give his dominance full credit. 6 passes hit Brandon LaFell’s hands only to be dropped, the usually reliable Julian Edelman put a touchdown on the floor. Brady was also the teams leading rusher as the Patriots rarely handed off and when they did it was shut down. The Jets defense has been stifling so far this season, but once again Tom Brady looked like he was in the defensive huddle as he called out blitzes and created mis-matches. In an interview monday Brady said he wants to play 10 more years. It’s hard to argue that he couldn’t given his performance this season.
RB: Todd Gurley II, St. Louis Rams
The rookie gained an average of 7.1 yards every time he touched the ball on Sunday and found the endzone twice with a offensive line that is far from the best in the league and a passing game that doesn’t scare anyone. Gurley was a human highlight reel on sunday. Bouncing off and plowing through defenders, or putting his foot down and racing past them. He looks like the real deal just a few games into his NFL career. Which is a nice change from the Rams recent offensive draft results. RB:
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers
Stewart, consistently fit for the first time in a long time, is starting to return some of the promise he’s hinted at for so long. 125 yards at 5.2 a go is a great achievement against this defense, some of the credit obviously goes to his offensive lines but there’s no getting over some of the tiny holes Stewart was slipping through to find the yards needed to keep Carolina undefeated.
WR: Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers It’s been something of a lost season for Evans, who has struggled with fitness and injury so far this season. But the only ones struggling on
It’s been something of a lost season for Evans, who has struggled with fitness and injury so far this season. But the only ones struggling on Sunday were the Buccaneers defense as Evans posted his best results of the year so far, 8 catches for 164 yards and a touchdown.
WR: Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Buffalo Bills are one of the best teams in the league against #1 wide receivers thanks to a mixture of good pass rush and great coverage from Stephon Gilmore. But sunday in London was Allen Robinson’s day. The break-out star worked himself open for 6 catches on 9 targets for 98 yards and a touchdown.
TE: Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
It’s hardly a surprise to see that the best receiving TE in the NFL is the player of the week in that position. But this time it’s not just for his receiving (11 catches for 108 yards and a touchdown) or his penchant for stiff-arming defensive backs like they were nothing. This week it was Gronk’s blocking that stood out, often kept in to help against the Jets blitzes as the Patriots went pass heavy. These blocks also included having to deal with the monsters on the Jets defensive line, particularly Muhammad Wilkerson. Gronk’s ability to hold his own in such circumstances is a very underrated part of his game.
T: Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys G: Zach Martin, Dallas Cowboys C: Travis Frederick, Dallas Cowboys
Guess what? When Darren McFadden averages 5 yards a pop on TWENTY NINE carries the O-Line has done a lot of things right. Smith, Martin, and Frederick were the main offenders as they sealed, smashed and demoralized the Giants run defense.
G: Marshal Yanda, Baltimore Ravens
Yanda makes blocks other morals wouldn’t even consider. Early in the first quarter he contacted and drove the edge defender on Ricky Wagner for a bit before coming back across and sealing the inside for Forsett. Yanda’s impact isn’t just the blocks he makes but the range he has which allows the other linemen more freedom. On Forsett’s touchdown run in the second quarter Yanda, from right guard, OVERSHOOTS a block on Rodney Gunter who is lined up on the centers right shoulder. For any normal guard to make that block would require at least a momentary double team with the center, but Yanda’s ridiculous get off and mobility allows Jeremy Zuttah to go straight up to linebacker/safety hybrid Deone Buccanon, seal him off and allow Forsett a fairly easy 14-yard touchdown run. Next time you watch Baltimore be sure to keep an eye on #73.
T: Joe Thomas, Cleveland Browns
Thomas wasn’t a monster in the run game, instead he shut down one of the best pass rushers around in Robert Quinn. He’s not a physical phenomenon like Tyron Smith or Jason Peters, instead Thomas is a smooth technical master in pass protection. He makes his kick steps, fast enough to keep ahead of a speedster like Quinn, look as easy as a walk to the fridge to get a cold beer. DEFENSE:
DE: Calais Campbell, Arizona Cardinals
Campbell is listed as a defensive end, but plays anywhere from outside the tight end to heads up on the center. That versatility was on display Monday night as he moved around and tormented the Ravens, chasing down runs from the back side and splitting double teams. 3 tackles for a loss actually doesn’t do Campbell’s performance justice.
DT: Kawann Short, Carolina Panthers
The Eagles guard play isn’t as good as it once was but Short was simply unblockable on Sunday night. 3 sacks, a further 2 QB hits and another tackle for a loss is simply an incredible day against an offense that can throw as many fakes and misdirections at you as Philly can.
DT: Chris Canty, Baltimore Ravens
Canty was a constant presence in the Arizona backfield on Monday night. Disrupting some of the timing in the pass game and blowing up runs by destroying the blocking schemes designed to break Chris Johnson free.
DE: Michael Bennett, Seattle Seahawks
The 49ers tried to block him one on one to no avail on Thursday. So then they tried to confuse him with play actions and roll-outs. No luck either. Bennett finished the game with 3.5 sacks and was a constant menace to any 49er that got in his way.
OLB: Thomas Davis, Carolina Panthers MLB: Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers
This is the best linebacker pairing in the NFL and they proved it again this week, keeping a revitalized Eagles rushing game to just under 4 yards a carry (Excluding the 1 long Ryan Mathews run) and between them accounting for a third of the Panthers tackles.It wasn’t just the run game where they excelled, Eagles running backs were held to 6 yards a catch and just 3.5 yards per target. With Kuechly back in the line-up after a lengthy absence due to a concussion, this Panthers defense is back to its scary ways of old.
OLB: Jamie Collins, New England Patriots
Jamie Collins is the perfect Bill Belichick player. He can go from playing coverage in acres of space to putting his hand in the ground and rushing the passer. He’s got all the athletic ability in the world, just watch him jump over the snapper to block an extra point last week! This week there wasn’t quite that level of explosion but he was still all over the field with 12 tackles and a sack, giving him 4.5 this season.
CB: Desmond Trufant, Atlanta Falcons
Trufant was shaking Titans receivers out of his back pocket when he got back to the locker room after this game. Playing almost exclusively the left corner position he was exceptional in locking down that side in both man coverage and Cover 3 Zone. The only catch of the day on him came when Trufant was playing off-man in the right slot. The first TARGET against him as a left corner came on a 4th & 3 with just 3:35 left in the game on a pick route that was incomplete. Trufant is starting to reach Revis & Sherman levels of “stay away” from opposing Quarterbacks.
CB: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, New York Giants
First, he jumped an outside curl route that was poorly run and took the ball to the house, then it was a deep in over the middle. Until his first pick Matt Cassel had been playing ok for Dallas and the game was fairly even with the Cowboys leading by 3 at the half. Then DRC got going, book-ending 3 Dallas drives that all ended with interceptions and changing the complexion of the game.
S: Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona Cardinals
Mathieu is just a little ball of footballing energy. Going from breaking up touchdowns with a diving tip to blitzing off the edge and blowing up an end around or getting a sack. The small safety lined up everywhere for Bruce Arians’ defense and was simply a force. 7 tackles in total, 3 in the offensive backfield and that one touchdown saving play. The honey badger was truly terrorizing.
S: Mark Barron, St. Louis Rams I said I wanted to avoid relying on box scores for this team, and largely I have. But sometimes there’s a number than simply leaps off the page and forces you to go and have a closer look. This week that was Barron, who’s 16 tackles seemed like a typo. Instead what the tape shows is a former Tampa Bay 1st round pick finding a home as a hybrid safety/linebacker type in St. Louis. Barron was flying around the field, from getting involved in tackles off the edge, to run blitzes inside the tackles that blew up seemingly well blocked plays. Barron’s coverage has always been a weak spot but it was better here than previously as well. If he starts to come through with some of his college ability in the pros then St. Louis’ already scary defense might become simply unplayable. So there you have it, Real Sport’s Team of the Week for Week Seven. As I said at the top there may well be some players that I missed or that you feel deserve credit. We welcome your comments and opinions. – Toby Durant (@TDOnSport)
So there you have it, Real Sport’s Team of the Week for Week Seven. As I said at the top there may well be some players that I missed or that you feel deserve credit. We welcome your comments and opinions. – Toby Durant (@TDOnSport)
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