Every week here at the Pro Football Network, we’ll choose the Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week. Who was the top NFL player on each side of the ball in Week 1? Also, before we move forward, I’m going to be transparent about something. Unless a quarterback puts together an otherworldly performance, we at PFN will not choose a QB for the award. They already win everything.
NFL Player of the Week | Week 1
The top player on each side of the ball in the NFL during Week 1 put up outrageous production. Furthermore, they did it against outstanding competition, making their accomplishments even more impressive.
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Offensive Player of the Week | Tyreek Hill
The argument over who is the best wide receiver in the NFL rages violently on social media. In the end, there is seemingly an endless embarrassment of receivers to choose from. Many would say it’s DeAndre Hopkins. Others believe Davante Adams is the top receiver in the NFL. Personally, I don’t think anybody can affect a game plan the way Hill does.
Hill saw more targets through the air than carries Clyde Edwards-Helaire received on the ground. Now, that usage isn’t sustainable, simply because the Kansas City Chiefs won’t play from behind as often as they did against Cleveland.
However, with only Travis Kelce taking targets away from Hill, there’s a chance we see the speedy receiver win more than one NFL Player of the Week award this season.
What makes Hill special?
Too many people look at Hill’s outrageous game speed and underappreciate his overall ability as a wideout — Hill is a complete receiver.
So, you have an athletic marvel out there also routing up defensive backs, unlike anyone we’ve seen with his athletic profile. He’s the evolution of the game personified. Every time the ball gets into his hands, Hill has the potential to take it to the house.
On Sunday, Hill did it in many ways. But he’s such an incredible force to deal with on-stop routes. As he’s progressed as a pro, he’s learned how to best use his speed to his advantage, out-leveraging defensive backs.
Against the Browns, Hill continuously stepped on the toes of defenders in zone coverage, causing full-force bailouts by the DBs. Yet, his gear down is so efficient that Patrick Mahomes can count on Hill separating as he drives back to the football.
Even when he’s covered, Mahomes knows he can trust Hill to find a way to haul in the pass. That’s how they scored to bring the game within 3 points. Hill was running deep across the field with John Johnson III hot on his heels when Mahomes chucked up a prayer rolling right.
Seriously, he just threw it up. He told Hill he didn’t even see him on the throw.
“I just saw your little hand sticking up.”
The pass was a little behind Hill, but defenders have to work so incredibly hard to keep up with him that Johnson couldn’t gear down and find the underthrown football.
Hill finished with 11 receptions on 15 targets for 197 yards and the score in the comeback victory. His massive performance outshined everyone else, making him an easy choice for PFN’s NFL Offensive Player of the Week for Week 1.
Defensive Player of the Week | Chandler Jones
We witnessed Chandler Jones show a level of dominance in the Arizona Cardinals’ lopsided victory over the Tennessee Titans. His play was comically dominant. Unlike Adrian Clayborn’s 6-sack game against the Dallas Cowboys in 2017, Jones faced high-end competition, at least on 2 of his 5 sacks.
Sure, Taylor Lewan was playing in his first game since his ACL tear last October. But Lewan is a seven-year veteran that has long been one of the better tackles in the game. He admitted after the game on Twitter that Jones got the better of him in Week 1.
“Got my ass kicked today, no way around that. I let the team and the fans down. Thank you @chanjones55 for exposing me. It will only force me to get better.”
Jones was unimpeded on his first sack. He came off the defense’s right side and caught Ryan Tannehill by surprise, causing a fumble that was nearly recovered in the end zone for a touchdown.
His second sack was what appeared to be a combination of good hand usage and 95th-percentile arm length. Lewan attempted to jump set against the NFL Defensive Player of the Week.
As he hit Jones in the chest with a two-handed strike, Jones was able to get his left hand in tight and disengage from Lewan, who couldn’t control his opponent’s breastplate. With the other hand, Jones held Lewan’s left shoulder.
Jones ripped through, separating from Lewan upfield, where he dropped his shoulder and reduced the rush angle and his surface area on a straight track to Tannehill’s back. Luckily for Tannehill, he caught a glimpse of the inevitable and pulled the ball down, saving a fumble.
Jones’ third sack was a disgusting display of high-end technical ability. On 3rd and long, the lengthy pass rusher pinned his ears back and took a deep track around the arc. His explosive first step put a ton of pressure on Lewan to get to his spot. He never stood a chance once Jones paired his hands with his first step.
Jones “ghosted” Lewan, meaning Jones threw both hands to his chest, showing a long-arm technique meant to convert speed to power. But instead of going through with it, Jones quickly tucked his arms back and bent a tight angle to Lewan’s outside shoulder.
It got Lewan leaning just slightly, which is all Jones needed. He dipped the shoulder, but the Titans’ OT still got a piece of him. Nevertheless, Jones used his left arm to lift up, creating a free run to Tannehill.
I can only imagine Brandon Thorn would give that sack a “high quality” score in his True Sack Rate project.
At this point, Jones is already the top candidate for NFL Defensive Player of the Week. If it’s 3rd and long, and you’re facing Jones and the left tackle isn’t getting help, the play is over. After beating Lewan twice around the arc, Jones showed off yet another treat in his bag of goodies. This time, against Kendall Lamm.
Jones took that same outside track and threw his hands to ghost Lamm, just as he had Lewan. However, Lamm overset a bit so he wouldn’t get beat on the outside, which opened up an inside counter for Jones.
Jones long-armed Lamm into the next dimension and forced a fumble as Tannehill geared back to deliver a strike.
This was the first time Jones didn’t immediately win the rep, but that’s because he wasn’t necessarily trying to. On an E-T stunt with himself and Zach Allen, he drove down inside and engaged guard Rodger Saffold.
Saffold was surprised by Jones. He was engaged with Allen and swiftly got his head turned to battle Jones, but it was too late. Jones got both hands high on his left shoulder pad, and it was game over.
Jones used his length to push-pull the guard, and when Saffold tried to counter and drive forward to catch Jones, the pass rusher showed his incredible flexibility and explosion. He put his foot in the turn, dropped his shoulder, and the rest — as they say — is history.