The NFL Players of the Week is awarded to the top performers from each week of action. In Week 11 of the NFL season, we had the first instance where deciding the three awardees came easy. We had a couple of tectonic performances this week. At least one of these guys looked like he could have shifted a mountain himself yesterday.
NFL Players of the Week
Traditionally, this is where I’d bring up the performances of other POW candidates, but we didn’t have to think too hard about this one.
Robert Quinn had a massive game, but it came in a loss. Kyle Van Noy had 2 sacks, an INT, and a TD, but he didn’t single-handedly dismantle the Falcons’ offense the way the Defensive Player of the Week did to his opponent.
NFL Quarterback of the Week | Justin Herbert
The Chargers’ second-year quarterback blew up on Sunday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Justin Herbert alone accounted for 472 yards of offense against the Steelers. That’ll win you an NFL Player of the Week award! Yes, it’s true Pittsburgh was without T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick. But even the FCS-level New York Jets defense would be ashamed of letting that happen to them.
Yesterday was one of the first times Herbert stretched his legs out. His 90 rushing yards were the most of his young career, and he wasn’t second-guessing it at all last night. His 9 rushes were also the most of his career.
I think it showed just how dangerous he can be. This is an element of his game people who evaluated him coming from Oregon knew he had, but Los Angeles hasn’t used him to his full potential. Even last night, Herbert’s runs were almost exclusively off-script scrambles against man coverage.
If the Chargers want to seriously contend in the playoffs, they should start using Herbert’s 6-foot-6, 240-pound frame more. Maybe, just maybe, like on the fourth-and-1 Austin Ekeler run that was stuffed and nearly lost the game for Los Angeles.
NFL Offensive Player of the Week | Jonathan Taylor
We need to have a conversation about Jonathan Taylor, folks. We need to start talking about him in the MVP conversation. I know, guys, trust me! I don’t like this either. I’m literally currently wearing a “RUNNING BACKS DON’T MATTER” shirt. I swear it!
But Taylor, like Derrick Henry, is a big part of the Colts’ offensive success. Yesterday, he toted the rock 32 times for 185 yards and scored 5 (five!) touchdowns against what was supposed to be the best run defense in the league.
His “traditional” rushing statistics are outrageous, but he’s been efficient, too. Taylor ranked second in DVOA and is first in yards above replacement before the Week 11 NFL update on Football Outsiders. He’s not just an NFL Player of the Week — he’s probably the Offensive Player of the Year!
There is no doubt the Colts’ offensive line deserves their flowers. Taylor ranks sixth in yards before contact per rush. However, he also ranks fourth in yards after contact.
Furthermore, Taylor leads the league in yards from scrimmage, and his 15 touchdowns are only three fewer than his quarterback. Oh, and Taylor accounts for two of Wentz’s passing touchdowns.
That’s the other value the star RB brings. His pass protection is a plus, and he’s exhibited his receiving ability in 2021. Quarterbacks are inherently more valuable, so Taylor won’t win the MVP. But he deserves to be in the conversation, and it should be a two-horse race between him and Cooper Kupp for OPOY.
NFL Defensive Player of the Week | Chris Jones
Chris Jones is on another planet right now. We’ve seen him show improvement since he began playing on the interior more often, but he woke up the entire NFL on Sunday afternoon. Sure, he beat Connor McGovern a few times in his first-ever start, but Jones also beat La’el Collins and dismantled Zack Martin on a pass rush.
His impact was felt beyond the box score, too. Jones had the Cowboys’ offensive line on skates all day defending both the run and pass.
Jones, along with Aaron Donald, is one of the most versatile interior defenders in the league. He is big, long, and explosive. But he’s also strong enough to defend the run, which the Chiefs have done quite well in recent weeks. Jones dominated Week 11 of the NFL calendar.