Week 1 is in the books and after it saw a lot of very impressive defenses crush their opponents.
The Baltimore Ravens pitched a shutout against an overmatched Bengals team and the Giants, Seahawks, and 49ers were also kept out of the endzone while the Colts, Texans, and Jets were crushed over and over by defensive efforts.
In this piece though, we want your vote on which individual defensive player had the best Week 1 performance. Here are the three candidates and you can vote below!
Calais Campbell, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars
Campbell has long been a terrific player, but tasked more with eating up space and blockers than penetrating and hunting quarterbacks.
When he left Arizona I worried about how he would be used in his new home. Would he be kept strictly on the inside or be allowed to roam on the edge? Would he just be asked again to eat space and protect linebackers?
Well it turns out he was asked to bring fire and destruction to the opposition backfield, and he did just that. Campbell worked relentlessly against both the left tackle and left guard, stringing out running plays, and hitting anything that moved.
He finished his day with four sacks, five QB hits, and three tackles for loss as he abused Tom Savage, Deshaun Watson and the offensive line that tried to protect them.
Mike Daniels, DE, Green Bay Packers
Much like Campbell, Mike Daniels ruined the afternoon of the man opposite him. For the majority of the time that was Seattle’s new left guard Luke Joeckel.
Daniels was a constant presence in the Seattle backfield, forcing running backs to move laterally and making Russell Wilson quickly bail from the pocket. Daniels ended up with seven tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss, and four QB hits. Against a less elusive quarterback, Daniels could have had five or six sacks he was that dominant.
TJ Watt, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers
While JJ Watt was waving a Lone Star flag and making his return to the football field, his younger brother was making his NFL debut and showing that he is every bit the QB killer JJ is.
TJ Watt, lining up against the best left tackle of his generation in Joe Thomas, had himself a career day as he led the Steelers in tackles (seven), added two sacks, 2.5 tackles for a loss, two QB hits, a pass deflection and an interception.
Watt was relentless in his pursuit of DeShone Kizer all day, sticking with a quarterback who held the ball for longer than he should be had the athleticism to move around and frustrate the Steelers defense at times. His motor kept him alive longer than many rookie rushers would have been, and his technique against such a master as Thomas was extremely impressive.
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