MVP's of Week 3: 2015
Quarterback: QB Christian Ponder19 Completions : 27 Attempts : 238 Yards : 70.37% Completion Rate : 3 Touchdowns : 134.5 QB Rating
With over 300 attempts this season, Ponder has yet to miss a start for the season. The 27 year old QB has been a Cardinals since the 10th overall pick in the 2011 GZL Draft. He's only posted below an 80 QB Rating once since his debut, and that was last year with a 79.8 QB Rating. He isn't doing much better this season with a current 80.7 QB Rating for the season. He was steadily on the incline through his first 3 seasons and even achieved a season QB Rating of 102 in 2013, the best QB Rating of that year for starting quarterbacks. Whatever has happened to the Cardinals since then hasn't been much of a help to Christain Ponder, but this week he showed a reemergence of his past brilliance with the best QB Rating of the week; although many other QB's came close. The Cardinals are 8-1, so whatever they are doing is working, just not when it comes down to their starting QB's statistics.
The Cardinals beat the under performing Giants with a 37-17 victory, keeping themselves at the top of the NFC West at 8-1. The Cardinals biggest rivals, The Seattle Seahawks, remain constant in their victories at 7-2, clawing at their heels.
Halfback: HB Doug Martin
20 Attempts : 158 Yards : 7.9 Yards Per Carry : 53 Long : 2 Touchdown
It took Doug Martin only 20 attempts to post 158 yards and a near 8 yards per carry average. His 2 touchdowns helped keep their game against the Lions close, but it wasn't enough. Doug is in his third year, and has spent them all as the Packers starting halfback. He's remained remarkably consistent, averaging 4.36-4.67 yards per carry a year, but has been on a steady incline in his abilities. His 8 fumbles last year were not appreciated by anyone in this Packers organization, but with nearly 400 attempts, it came as no surprise. His 394 Attempts last year actually set a record in the GZL, putting him in third, only behind Mark Ingram in the same year and Arian Foster in 2011.
The Packers needed the win this week to stay in the lead of the division, but with an upset by the Detriot Lions in their 48-42 loss, the Bears have taken the lead. The Packers now sit at 5-4 and if they aren't careful, the Detriot Lions, who've won 2 straight might start becoming uncomfortably close to taking their #2 spot in the division.
Wide Receiver: WR Leonard Hankerson
11 Receptions : 170 Yards : 40 Long : 0 Touchdowns : 0 Drops
Where the two first mentions in this article have spent their whole career with one team, Leonard is on his fourth team in only 5 years. The 6'2", 96 SPD receiver is only some key points in acceleration away from being a stud and a top 10 pick. Unfortunately, he fell to the second round in 2011, and has only just seen the same team for two seasons straight. His second season with the Eagles is already an improvement over his first with seven games still left to play. Hankerson is well on his way to his best season yet and just hit the Top 10 mark on receivers this season with his performance last week. His 11 Receptions for 170 yards with 0 drops is the best game of his career and I see no reason why he can't keep putting up numbers like this if the Eagles can remain as consistent at the quarterback position.
The Eagles beat the Saints 42-7 this week. The Saints have been struggling the last 3 weeks, only scoring an average of 8.6 points per game. They've been outscored 119-26. With a new General Manager in town, will we see a change in the sinking ship that is the New Orlean Saints? The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sure hope not.
Now, back to the Eagles. All four of the teams in the NFC East are within a game of each other. It is, by far anyone's game at this point. But the Dallas Cowboys have the clear advantage at 5-4 with a division record of 3-2. The Eagles are a game and two divisional wins behind them. But with 2 straight wins, the Eagles might actually close out the season with a very nice win streak to take the division and see the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
Tight End: Fendi Onobun
7 Receptions : 126 Yards : 63 Long : 1 Touchdown : 1 Drop
Fendi Onobun has been a top 10 receiving tight end since his immediate trade to the Steelers at the start of the GZL. He's remained a Steeler ever since, and with his current performance, I doubt that will change anytime soon. Fendi is 4th in the league in yards for tight ends, as well as touchdowns, and 3rd on receptions.
The Steelers have won their last 3 games in a desperate hope to remain at the top of the AFC North after their fall to 2-2 in their week 4 loss at Denver. With the Ravens loss to the Raiders this week, the Steelers have gotten themselves some breathing room and are going to need it with sixth of their next 7 games against top 15 teams in terms of power rankings. With both of their divisional games against the Ravens yet to be played, this division might all come down to their head to head match ups against their biggest rival.
Offensive Line: LT Jammal Brown
13 Pancakes : 0 Sacks
Jammal Brown is well on his way to his best season yet. This is probably in large part due to his trade to the Raiders from the Redskins in the Preseason. In 2013 and 2014 he allowed 11 sacks, this season he's only allowed 1. Along with his 74 Pancakes, Jammal Brown is arguably the best offensive lineman in the GZL at the moment.
What's even more impressive than just Jammal Browns 13 Pancakes and 0 sacks allowed is the fact that he didn't play this game against some no name 5th round pick. No, it was RE Justin Tuck that had to pick himself off the ground 13 times. The 32 year old defensive end is no doubt on his way to retirement, and I doubt this is the game he'll want to remember as he leaves the GZL.
The Raiders first loss of the season came last week against their 2nd divisional game against the San Diego Chargers. Their first game against their rival was an impressive 33-10 victory at home. But last week the Chargers had the home field advantage and beat the then undefeated Raiders 17-29. This week the Raiders were able to bounce back, beating the Ravens who were enjoying a four game winning streak after starting 1-3. The win keeps the Raiders with a 2 game lead over the San Diego Chargers for the division.
After each week and each Oakland win, the Chargers chances of coming from behind get less and less. Not only is it likely that the Raiders may see a first round bye, but they might even get the chance to rest their starters before the end of the regular season.
Defensive Line: RE Carlos Dunlap
7 Tackles : 1 For Loss : 2 Sacks : 1 Forced Fumble : 1 Fumble Recovery for 6 yards
The second Raider in a row is the 6'6" 2nd round draft pick defensive end. The man has started for the Raiders since being traded from the Bengals almost immediately after being drafted in 2010. The DE has had respectable seasons, but nothing extraordinary. He's definitely never had a game like this before. He's had games where he's forced a fumble or recovered a fumble, and he's had games where he's sacked the quarterback twice. But he's never forced a fumble, recovered a fumble and sacked a quarterback all in one game. That was until this week. Not only did he put up those great numbers, but he also led his team in tackles with seven. Not just a respectable performance, but a great one.
The Raiders Left Tackle dominated the Ravens Right End, and now the Raiders Right End dominated the Ravens Left Tackle. Not a good week to be a Raven. The poor Raven in this match up was Jared Gaither. Another Veteran stud who should not have performed as badly as he did this week. Just goes to show that when a team is firing on all cylinder's like the Raiders are this season, there is never enough talent to stop them.
Linebacker: MLB Von Miller
9 Tackles : 4 For Loss : 3 Interceptions for 32 Yards : 3 Deflections
If there was ever a performance of the season, Von Miller would be up there on the list with this game. He didn't put up a game like Chargers CB Dominique Cromartie did in week 8, but he sure came close. The only thing he was missing was the touchdowns. Von did not lead his team in tackles, that privilege goes to MLB2 in the Rams 3-4, Audie Cole. But Von Miller did not need tackles to prove his dominance over the Dolphins this week. His 3 interceptions put him in the top five for interceptions in a game. The record probably won't stand for long, but as the only non CB on the current list, it's still an accomplishment. If his 3 interceptions weren't enough, his four tackles for a loss and 3 deflections just add onto this performance.
Von Miller's history is slightly in question to me. As a new comer to the league, I'm not quite sure where Von Miller came from. Hopefully a GM of a longer history in the GZL can let me know. Von Miller wasn't drafted, but has been in the league since 2011, and a Ram since then. He's never finished a season without at least 100 tackles, but that will most likely end this season. With a 10 week injury at the start of the preseason, Von Miller only saw his first game of the 2015 regular season 3 weeks ago. In three weeks he posted 19 tackles, at this rate, he won't be able to reach that 100 mark he's always been able to hit before.
The Rams sure have to be happy that Von Miller is back in action. Without him and this performance, they would have most likely lost this week against the Dolphins. With him, they barely pulled ahead with their 26-23 victory. The NFC West remains as one of the best divisions in the league, with all four teams moving along with a winning record. With the Cardinals at 8-1 and the Seahawks at 8-2, it's hard for the Rams to get any sort of notice. Without any wins against great teams, the Rams might not be able to hold their winning record for long. Hopefully Von Miller can have a repeat performance against the #1 power ranked team in the league, the Seattle Seahawks; who they still have to play twice.
Defensive Back: CB Antonio Cromartie
2 Tackles : 2 Interceptions for 1 yard : 3 Deflections
There are a few things that make a cornerbacks performance a great one. A lack of tackles is a good sign, as well as a high number of deflections. When you've intercepted the ball more than the opposing receiver caught it and deflected more passes than you've made tackles, you can usually find yourself on this list. Antonio Cromartie lined up against the Jaguars Desean Jackson. The veteran receiver was held to just one catch for 10 yards. That alone is a great stat, but tack on 2 interceptions and 3 deflections, and it's no surprise that the Jaguars were held to just 3 points all game.
Cromartie has not had a stable career. He began on the Jets in 2010 where he posted a respectable 6 interceptions, he moved to the Jaguars where he only got one in 2011. In 2012 he got shipped to the Patriots where he put up another 6 interceptions. In 2013, the Patriots made a strange move and traded him into the division to the Dolphins where he put up 2 interceptions. In 2014, he was traded to the Broncos where he's stayed a record breaking two seasons. This season he's already put up 6 interceptions, well on his way to a career best. He's #1 in the league for interceptions this year, with his teammate Thomas Jackson tied in 2nd.
The Broncos had a great game this week in a large part due to the Jaguars questionable decision to start their Rookie, Tyler Bray. If there's one thing you don't want to do when playing this defense is put in a rookie QB, but the Jaguars did just that. The young man had a great game last week vs the Titans where he put up a 123 QB rating and a victory, but his confidence from that game is no doubt gone from his 22 QB Rating this week.
The loss of Howard Christensen has without a doubt hurt the Broncos season immensely. At 4-5, there is no real chance for the Broncos to salvage the season. Especially because they sit in the same division as the Raiders, Chargers and the Chiefs. GM Wade Pearce's decision to stick it out with Ryan Fitzpatrick instead of trying to trade for an elite quarterback to finish the season was probably a good one. The Raiders and the Chargers are hard to beat even with a healthy quarterback. The Broncos may have spent a fortune to trade for a backup quarterback, only to have nothing of real value to show for it.
Kicker: K Connor Barth
4/5 Field Goals : 2/2 Extra Points
Where MLB Von Miller put up the stats to keep the Dolphins from scoring just 23 points, Connor Barth was the leading scorer for the Rams in their 26-23 victory. Connor Missed one field goal, but it was still enough of a performance to take the lead by just 3 points to close out the victory.
Connor Barth probably won't see this list very often. In 2013, he made only 66% of his field goals. He has a weak leg, and less than stellar accuracy, Barth is an average kicker at best, who was able to miraculously make a majority of his field goals this week in a close game to lead his team to victory. A performance he'll be lucky to achieve again in his career.
Kick Returner: CB Tyrann Mathieu
3 Attempts : 142 Yards : 47.33 Average : 1 Touchdown : 98 Long
Tyrann appeared on this list in week four, and I wrote that I expected to see this guy on this list again, and lo and behold, here he is. Funnily enough, he almost didn't make it. Three returners scored touchdowns this week, and Texans WR Wilson Hanks had 3 attempts for 141 yards and a long of 98. These stats are nearly identical to Tyrann with only one exception, and that was that Tyran returned for a total of one more yard; poor Wilson.
The Seahawks still sit one game behind the Cardinals. They are on a five game winning streak, which they extended this week in their division win against the 49ers in a 51-13 blowout at home. This return touchdown might not have mattered in the long run for the Seahawks, but it sure matters to Tyrann who was in danger of putting up only 1 touchdown return in his sophomore season after getting four as a rookie.
Please let me know if I'm getting too long winded.