MVP's of Week 1: 2017
Quarterback: QB Christian Ponder17 Completions : 23 Attempts : 73.91% Completion : 312 Yards : 3 Touchdowns : 155.3 QB Rating
Although Ponders 23 passing attempts weren't enough to qualify him as a statistical leader, it's plenty to get him onto this article. I'm a huge fan of QB's that can make the most of what ever many attempts are given. Any QB can throw for 400 yards when you give him 40 passing attempts, but few can throw for a nearly 74% completion rating and 300 yards with only 23 attempts. What makes this even more impressive is that it was up against the Raiders. A team that has proven season after season that they aren't easy to play against. Ponder however, seems to disagree. This might be Ponders best game all season, but he definitely has the potential to be here week in and week out.
Rams were the only other team in their division to win a game.
Halfback: HB Doug Martin
36 Carries : 186 Yards : 5.17 Yards Per Carry : 59 Long : 2 Touchdowns : 0 Fumbles
Doug Martin's game this week is just about the definition of a workhorse. The Packers were in the lead against the Jets throughout the game, leading to Martin carrying the ball much more than he normally would. In a normal game, this might cause the defense to creep up and stop the run more effectively, but Martin just wouldn't be stopped. With 36 Carries, not only did Martin not fumble the ball, but he also put up over 5 Yards Per Carry.
Along with the Bears, the Packers go to 1-0, while the Vikings and the Lions fall to 0-1
Wide Receiver: WR Darrius Heyward-Bey
12 Receptions : 211 Yards : 61 Long : 2 Touchdowns : 0 Drops
Where as Ponder only had 23 attempts in Oakland, the Raiders QB, Robert Griffin had 39 Attempts. Heyward-Bey caught about half of the 26 completions, and more than half of the 365 yards thrown in the game. The Raiders are not used to playing from behind which is probably why Heyward has had trouble posting a 1,000 yard receiving season. With more games like this, Heyward should have no problem hitting that mark, which has alluded him since 2012.
The Bronco's join the Raiders at 0-1 in their division, while the Chargers and Chiefs pull ahead.
Tight End: TE Eric Ebron
4 Receptions : 134 Yards : 82 Long : 1 Touchdown : 0 Drops : 4 Pancakes
The Lions may have lost this week, but Ebron helped validate the 1.25 pick that was spent in acquiring him. I'm sure Tom Riddell is breathing a sigh of relief in the conclusion that Ebron's size and speed will allow him to be a top Tight End day one of his career. Other Tight Ends this week had a more solid all around game, but Ebron's 82 long TD catch and the Lions only touchdown for the day proves that they have yet another deep threat in Ebron.
The Lions preseason woe's seem to be continuing, with a loss in Carolina
Offensive Line: RT Brennan Williams
14 Pancakes : 0 Sacks Allowed
Williams' outstanding play not only helped propel the Titans from behind to a 4th quarter victory, but was able to hold off 2015's 11th overall draft pick LE Cornelius Washington to only 2 tackles and 1 tackle for loss. Last season Washington put up 55 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 13 sacks. So not many Right Tackles can say that they stood their ground when it came to being matched up against the Texans.
Williams was the 13 overall pick in 2014, and has not had any outstanding seasons. His 7 sacks allowed last season was his worst yet, but this game against Cornelius Washington might give him the confidence required to turn his career around.
The Titans sit with the Jaguars at 1-0 in the AFC South.
Defensive Line: DT Vaughn Martin
4 Tackles : 4 Sacks
4 sacks? From a Defensive Tackle? This came at such a surprise, that I even looked at the Redskins depth chart to make sure he wasn't playing at Defensive End for some reason. The Colts rookie QB Terrelle Pryor was probably the only reason this could ever happen, but even then, in just one game the veteran Defensive Tackle was able to completely match his sacks of last season. He's still a long way from beating his personal best of 10 that he set in 2012, but it's a good start. I'm sure Vaughn Martin is wishing right now that he was in the AFC South so he could have another shot at the Colts later in the year.
The Redskins sit with the Giants at the top in the NFC East
Linebacker: MLB Ernest Munoz
6 Tackles : 1 Sack : 1 Interception for 3 Yards : 2 Deflections : 3 Catches Allowed
Although the Bengals lost this week, their defense did so well(Or the Ravens Offense so poorly) that they have two players on this list. The first is Ernest Munoz. Munoz has been on three teams in his 6 seasons in the GZL. Drafted by the Chargers, moved to New York, and then settled in Cincinnati. His two best seasons came as a Jet in 2014 and 2015. One year, putting up 93 tackles and 3 interceptions. The other year, 136 tackles and 4 sacks. He seems capable of having his best year yet, with a sack, interception and 2 deflections in the same game.
The Bengals lost to the Ravens and sit with the Steelers at 0-1 in the AFC North.
Defensive Back: SS Stacey Williams
3 Tackles : 2 Interceptions for 19 Yards : 2 Deflections : 0 Catches Allowed
The second Bengal is SS Stacey Williams. Stacey fell to the fourth round in 2013. Although he's a giant at his position with a 6'5" frame, he started his career with a very low top speed. After years of focus on improving his speed, the Bengals seem to finally have him at a spot where they can take advantage of his height to pick off inaccurate balls. His 2 interception, 2 deflections, and 0 catches allowed might be only a glimpse of what this player can achieve with a little more time learning the complexities of the game.
Kicker: K Jared Rutledge
5/5 Field Goals 1/1 Extra Points
Rutledge is in his second season in the GZL, and only started the second half of the season last year. He got the start when the Rams Cut K Connor Berth after the team felt comfortable with Rutledge's skill level.
It would have only taken K Jared Rutledge missing one of these field goals for the Rams to walk away with a loss instead of a victory this week. All five of these field goals came in the first three quarters of play. They trailed behind the 49ers all game, but Jared's leg kept them just within range for their game winning drive in the fourth quarter for their only touchdown.
Kick Returner: CB Buster Skrine
2 Kick Returns : 106 Yards : 1 TD : 95 long
Buster is in his 6th year in the league, and has only two kick returns in his entire career. His touchdown to kick return ratio is now 1:2. Unfortunately, it can only go down from there.
There were a total of three kick returns returned for touchdowns this week, but CB Buster Skrine was the only touchdown that actually had an impact on the game at all. The Jaguars beat the Cowboys 20-13, and without Skrine's touchdown, the Cowboys might have been able to hold on for an overtime victory. But with it, the Jaguars sit at a comfortable 1-0.
Let's give these another try. Enjoy them while they last.