Week 5 NFL Player of the Week: Herbert outduels, Adams sets career highs, and Darius slays Sam Darnold

    The NFL Player of the Week honors the top performers. In Week 5 of the NFL season, who had the most outstanding individual performances?

    The NFL Player of the Week award goes to the top player at each positional category for Week 5. Quarterbacks win all the awards, so we separate them, allowing another offensive player to win the prize each week. We also give out the award to a defender, which so far in 2021 could be written down as “Trevon Diggs” each time, given his propensity to take the ball away. He once again had a big day, intercepting a pass and almost intercepting a couple more despite playing visibly banged up. But a division rival snatched it from him!

    *Our Week 5 NFL Players of the Week do not include the Monday Night Football game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Baltimore Ravens. We will update if necessary.

    NFL Player of the Week | Week 5

    Matt Stafford can never seem to catch a break. Everywhere he goes, it seems to fall just a bit short. There wasn’t any playoff success in Detroit, and now he’s stuck being the second-best quarterback in Los Angeles by about the length of the Hollywood sign.

    NFL Quarterback of the Week | Justin Herbert

    Oh, I still remember when the reserved homebody from Eugene, Oregon was too nerdy to be able to lead an NFL roster of big, burly men. Quite frankly, even two years ago, we should have understood Justin Herbert was the top pick.

    In today’s NFL, his mold is the exact one you carve to be an NFL QB. He’s athletic with an absolute fire hose for an arm, allowing him to sprint for tough first downs and fit passes into increasingly tight NFL windows. Herbert’s All-22 review was an absolute treat.

    If Josh Allen had already broken out before 2020, maybe Herbert would have gone first overall. Heck, if he declares a year earlier, perhaps he’s an Arizona Cardinal.

    But yesterday, he was a Charger, and he led those Chargers to a thrilling 47-42 victory over the Cleveland Browns. There were other deserving candidates, but Herbert was the man for the NFL Player of the Week.

    Tom Brady had an unbelievable day, but he was playing one of the worst teams in the NFL. Allen had himself a stellar performance on a wet night in Kansas City, but the Chiefs have legitimately the worst defense in the NFL. Davis Mills somehow turned from zero to hero for the Texans, but they allowed the Patriots to come back and beat them.

    Herbert averaged .51 EPA/play against a Cleveland defense that was eighth in EPA/play allowed and second in defensive success rate. He went 26-of-43 for 398 yards, throwing 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions along the way.

    NFL Offensive Player of the Week | Davante Adams

    Watching the subtleties in Davante Adams’ route running is such a pleasure. The way he so effortlessly changes pace along the route stem allows him a 360-degree “go” on his way to separation. His release repertoire is exquisite, and there’s no real weakness to his game, either.

    Cincinnati’s defense was in the top 10 in passing EPA/play allowed through Week 4, and they fell just outside of that in DVOA. Their offseason additions on the defensive side helped elevate their secondary, but they still had no answer for the man with 18 touchdowns in 2020. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Adams named the NFL Player of the Week one or two more times before the season ends.

    He currently leads the league in receiving yards and receptions after accumulating two Benjamins and six Washingtons worth of yardage against the Bengals. Adams and the Packers have slightly increased the depth in which he’s receiving passes so far in 2021.

    Last season, he averaged under 9 air yards, and since Pro Football Reference began tracking advanced stats, he’s never been over 11.3. This season, he’s at a smooth 12, and his yards before the catch are over 10 for the first time, too.

    That could all even out over time. Adams receives such a high target share that it’s tough to consistently unlock him on deeper routes. The reasoning? His volume is key for the offense, and downfield targets are usually far less efficient.

    Having an 11-catch, 206-yard day at the office isn’t bad in a game that went down to the wire and sent our blood pressure through the roof multiple times. The crazy part is, Adams predicted this performance.

    NFL Defensive Player of the Week | Darius Slay

    There were no massive impacts at the pass rusher position in Week 5. Derwin James had a big day, Trevon Diggs continues to impress, and Kevin Byard had an interception and a fumble recovery for a touchdown. However, I wanted to highlight a forgotten hero.

    Darius Slay was once thought of as one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL when he was in Detroit. After a rough year in 2020, he’s come back as good as he’s been since his prime years with the Lions. After last week, he tweeted this.

    Yesterday, with the Eagles down 3-0 and Sam Darnold delivering from near his own goal line, Slay elevated against a honey-hole shot while playing Cover 2, intercepting the pass and giving Philadelphia outstanding starting field position inside the 10-yard line.

    His second interception came matched up against DJ Moore, who is (and probably forever will be) one of the more underrated receivers in the game. That play came while the Eagles were down 15-6 in the third quarter. Philadelphia’s offense would go three-and-out to follow, but Slay played like he did when he was considered one of the best corners in the game.

    Now, we’re seeing a career resurgence at age 30, which is something that not many cornerbacks in the history of the league can claim. This week, it earned him NFL Defensive Player of the Week honors.

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