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In My Defense – 2021 Week 1

Duncan Smith (@duncafc) takes a look back at the week 1 action with a defensive point of view.

By Duncan Smith

Week 1 as they say is in the books. And what a week it was, we opened on Thursday night with a great game as the Dallas Cowboys pushed last year’s Super Bowl Champions Tampa Bay close before falling just short. The week finished up with a bizarre game on Monday night in Las Vegas between the Raiders and Ravens, which included but wasn’t limited to the Raiders departing the field after thinking they had won but before the scoring review had been completed, and an interception off the helmet.

In between those two games, Chandler Jones ran rampant across Sunday, the veteran putting in one of the most dominant defensive displays on record.

So with a lot to discuss let’s get on with it.

Sacks

Veteran Chandler Jones will be haunting Ryan Tannehill’s dreams for the foreseeable future. He had himself a monster day against a surprisingly poor Tennessee Titans. He recorded 5 sacks, including 3 in the first quarter, as he dominated the Titans’ O-line and Tannehill. After a 2020 which was cut short in week 5 the 31-year-old looks to be back to his best.

On top of his 5 sacks, he recorded 4 tackles for a loss and 2 forced fumbles, both of which resulted in Cardinals touchdowns.

Interceptions

A total of 17 interceptions were recorded across the league in the opening weekend of football. No player managed more than 1 individual interception. The longest return of the week went to Dallas Cowboys cornerback Jourdan Lewis with a 66-yard return after picking off Tom Brady. 

San Fransisco 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw returned his pick 39 yards for the only defensive touchdown of the week.

This led to a nervous moment for me as I thought I had benched him at the last minute before realizing I had just moved him to a flex spot. Unfortunately, Greenlaw later left the game with a groin injury and is currently listed as day-to-day, cause you know it’s the 49ers and if they weren’t suffering from injuries everywhere then something isn’t right.

Forced Fumbles

It’s that man Chandler Jones again leading the way, as mentioned he recorded 2 forced fumbles against the hapless Titans on Sunday to lead the league after 1 week of football.

Fumble Recovery

Dallas Cowboy Jourdan Lewis added to his interception with a fumble recovery, he hasn’t recorded more than one fumble recovery since 2018, when he got 2 all year, and his interception was his first since 2019. Week 1 might be a high watermark for Lewis rather than a sign of things to come.

Passes Defended

Three players recorded 3 passes defended, Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson, Tampa Bay cornerback Carlton Davis, and Cardinal cornerback Byron Murphy.

Tackles

Eight players managed to record 8 solo tackles on the week. Minnesota’s Erik Kendricks was one behind with seven solo. However, his 8 assisted tackles meant he finished the league with the most combined tackles with 15. After missing the last 5 games of the 2020 season it looks like Kendricks is going to pick up where he left off in 2021.

Tackles For a Loss

Week 1 super stud Chandler Jones leads the stat line here with 4 tackles for a loss. Nick Bosa and Von Miller both finished the week with 3. 

QB Hits

One guess who recorded the most QB hits in week 1. Yes, it was Bobby Wagner! I’m joking, it was Chandler Jones. Good joke right? Jones recorded 6 total QB hits this week.

Pittsburgh legend and highest-paid defensive player, T.J. Watt was one shy of Jones total with 5 hits of Josh Allen on Sunday, two of those were sacks as he gets off to a good start looking to match his league-high 15 sacks from 2020.

Rookie Watch

It was a quiet start to the 2021 season for the incoming group of rookie defenders. Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons recorded 7 combined tackles, a QB hit and a pass defended to finish off with a reasonable scoreline on the week. If you played any other rookies you were probably disappointed.

Team Defense

The top three team defenses in week 1 were the New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers, and on the back of that Chandler Jones performance, the Arizona Cardinals. In week 2 they face the Panthers, Raiders, and Vikings respectfully.

Week 2 sees the Buccaneers face what looks to be a bad Falcons offense, while New England gets the opportunity to go to town on divisional rivals the Jets.

For those of you streaming a DST check if the Seahawks are available, they play the Titans this week. Anyone feeling brave, or stupid could always go with the Lions against Green Bay in the hope that week 1 was a sign of things to come for the Pack and not an early low point of the season.

Week 2

Week 1 played out similarly to most of the 2020 season. Last year’s worst teams, the Jags and Jets both looked bad again this year. NYJ followed a similar pattern to last year where they were a total mess for one half and slightly improved for the other. Their offensive line looked poor and hasn’t gotten any better with the news Mekhi Becton could miss 6 weeks after needing surgery on his knee. You’ll want to start your Patriots in week 2 against a team that has already allowed Zach Wilson to be sacked 6 times.

Jacksonville rookie Trevor Lawrence gave up 3 interceptions on his debut against a Texans team that was made to look surprisingly good against a Jaguars team that looks like it hasn’t improved at all.

While we should expect Lawrence to improve over the season, the Texans are arguably the worst team they are scheduled to play (until the Jets in week 16) and they still made Jacksonville look bad. I’m confident starting my Denver players in week 2, if Jacksonville finds themselves playing catch up again then there could be more interceptions on the cards.

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