Teams and players around the league are beginning to settle into the season, so let’s take a look at 11 players who had excellent weeks en route to the team of the week on defense. The team of the week will be based on the All-Pro team with two interior defenders, two edge defenders, two linebackers, two cornerbacks, two safeties, and one flex spot. Let’s begin.
Interior Defender – Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs
Jones is off to an elite start, eclipsing a PFF grade of 90.0 in both games. On Thursday Night Football, Jones showed out as a pass rusher. He posted six pressures, recording a pair of sacks. He also batted a pass. Jones earned a stellar 91.5 pass-rush grade, quite the accomplishment considering he played the fifth-most pass-rush reps of the week.
Interior Defender – D.J. Reader, Cincinnati Bengals
Reader had a more well-rounded game than his counterpart. While Jones had a run-defense grade in the 50s, Reader earned a 76.3 mark. He also earned 70.0+ marks in tackling (72.3) and pass-rushing (74.2). He had four pressures including two hits and had five tackles without missing one. PFF credited him with five defensive stops.
Edge Defender – Aidan Hutchinson, Detroit Lions
Hutchinson had a monster day on the stat sheet. He posted six pressures with three leading to sacks in the first half. He did not miss a tackle, and he posted five defensive stops on the day. While his grade was not among the standouts for the week, he did finish his sacks when given the opportunity. It is impossible to deny a rookie that nabbed three sacks in his second career game.
Edge Defender – Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys
Parsons is the only player to make both the Week 1 Team of the Week and the Week 2 Team of the Week. While he is usually a mainstay at the FLEX position, he primarily was an edge in Week 2. Parsons led all players with eight pressures, closing two sacks. He tacked on three more hits. He did not miss a tackle, and he had two defensive stops. Parsons earned an absurd 92.6 overall defensive grade bolstered by a 91.8 pass-rush grade.
Linebacker – Matt Milano, Buffalo Bills
Milano was the highest-graded defensive player regardless of snap count or position with a 94.5 grade. He earned a 93.8 coverage grade, allowing one catch on three targets. He turned one of those targets into a pick-six in the Bills’ demolition of the Tennessee Titans. All told, Milano allowed a passer rating of 12.5. He was effective against the run and as a tackler, but his elite coverage performance was enough to earn a spot.
Linebacker – Devin Lloyd, Jacksonville Jaguars
It took all of two NFL games for Lloyd to post a stellar game. He earned an 87.1 overall grade, particularly dominating in the run game. Lloyd did miss a tackle, but he posted an 86.5 run-defense grade. He was targeted five times, surrendering three catches. However, he intercepted a pass and deflected two others en route to a 75.3 coverage grade. He allowed a 27.5 rating when in coverage.
Cornerback – Darius Slay, Philadelphia Eagles
The Minnesota Vikings made it a point to attack Slay in coverage. On eight targets, Slay earned a strange distinction. He allowed two catches, dropped two interceptions and caught two interceptions. Those eight targets turned into 19 yards and a 0.0 passer rating for Kirk Cousins. Had Slay held on to another interception, he would have had an all-time game rather than just a Team of the Week-worthy performance.
Cornerback – Jaylen Watson, Kansas City Chiefs
Watson had one of the most influential plays in any game in decades. According to ESPN Stats and Info, Watson is the only player since 2000 with a red-zone pick-six in the fourth quarter of a tie game. All told, Watson allowed a 6.8 passer rating. Targeted eight times, Watson allowed three catches for 25 yards, sufficiently limiting the Los Angeles Chargers’ passing attack.
Safety – Marcus Williams, Baltimore Ravens
Williams‘ inclusion is bittersweet. On one hand, he nabbed two interceptions and nearly had a third. However, the third potential interception was a watershed moment for the Miami Dolphins offense. After that play, the Dolphins struck for four touchdowns including a 60-yard bomb that was pinned on Williams. The final stat line is disturbing with 81 yards and a touchdown, but two interceptions are tough to exclude.
Safety – Mike Edwards, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Regardless of defensive back designation, Edwards earned the highest coverage grade with a resounding 91.8 mark. He was targeted five times, allowing one 10-yard catch. He turned one errant throw into a pick-six, securing his inclusion here. Ironically, this is the second consecutive Week 2 that Edwards has scored a defensive touchdown. Last season, he victimized Matt Ryan twice in the fourth quarter of their Week 2 showdown.
FLEX – Jamel Dean, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Staying with the Buccaneers, Dean picked Jameis Winston off as the former Buc opened his patent-pending turnover store. Dean earned an 86.0 coverage grade, and he allowed a microscopic 16.7 passer rating on six targets. He allowed just 16 yards in coverage, allowing zero yards after the catch.
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