This week on Reading the Defense, I'm going to do something different. I will go the entire column without mentioning the name J.J. Watt. What's that you say? I just wrote J.J. Watt's name? Crap. I have failed you already. Anyway, there were plenty of other notable IDP players doing good IDP things in Week 7 of the season. Let's talk about them, shall we?
Last week in this space, I wrote about the Rams lack of sacks -- most notably Robert Quinn having been shut out through the first five games of the season. Then in the Week 7 upset of the Seahawks, the Rams defense picked up three quarterback takedowns, with Quinn getting his first of the year. So let's see if we can't keep this magic going with another NFC West defense.
What in the name of Pike's Place Market is going on with Richard Sherman and the Legion of Boom? Through the first six games of the season, that formidable unit has pulled in a grand total of two interceptions and neither of them belong to Sherman. What's going on? Has the Legion of Boom become the Legion of Gloom?
Not exactly. The issue is that offenses are taking a new approach to attacking the Seattle secondary, namely staying patient and making a lot of short throws. So far this season, more than half (54 percent) of the passing attempts against the Seahawks defense have been within five yards of the line of scrimmage. That means the ball is usually coming out quickly, not allowing the physical 'Hawks defenders time to get to the football. And because Seattle isn't boatracing opponents like they did last season, the opposition can remain patient and stick to the game plan.
On the complete opposite coast, there's a secondary that is excelling. While the fantasy numbers might not reflect it, the Giants lead the NFL in interceptions with 11 and Prince Amukamara is part of the reason why. The fourth-year defensive back has already snagged three picks this season and is a bit of a surprise among the top players in the fantasy defensive back ranks -- even above his teammate, the always reliable Antrel Rolle.
Part of the reason for Amukamara's fantasy totals is that he's been picked on quite a bit this season. The 41 targets he's had come his way this year lands him tied for 15th among NFL cornerbacks. More than half (24) of those have ended in receptions. That means quite a few tackles for Amukamara. In fact, he's second on the Giants roster in tackles -- which isn't necessarily good news for Big Blue. But don't let that disturb you, dear IDP enthusiast.
Chances are Amukamara will continue to line up against the opposition's best receivers, which means he'll continue to have footballs thrown in his direction. If targets are good for wideouts, they're equally as good for fantasy defensive backs.
» The Jaguars defense suffered a huge loss when the team put linebacker Paul Posluszny on injured reserve Monday with a torn pectoral muscle. Jacksonville also lost Andre Branch for six weeks with a groin injury, but the Posluszny injury is especially damaging. The veteran linebacker was once again leading the team in tackles and was once again on pace to post 100-plus tackles for the fourth time in his career. For IDP owners, Posluszny has been a top three fantasy linebacker in each of the previous two seasons and was currently ranked fifth. It could be hard to find that type of consistent production elsewhere.
» Kyle Fuller was having a breakout rookie season, but that's temporarily on hold after the Bears cornerback suffered a hip pointer and a broken hand in Sunday's loss to the Dolphins. The good news is that he won't need surgery, but it's hard to imagine him being particuarly effective in Week 8 against New England's recently resurgent passing game.
» The Bucs got some good news coming out of their bye week -- safety Dashon Goldson was back at practice Monday after sitting out the past couple of weeks with an ankle injury. His return could be a boost to a secondary that has allowed 300-plus passing yards in four straight games. It's also just in time to face a Minnesota Vikings offense that hasn't figured anything out with its passing game. This might be the time for Tampa's defense to get healthy -- for one week, at least.
» Chargers rookie Jason Verrett likely won't play Thursday night against the Denver Broncos as he continues to rest a shoulder injury. From a fantasy perspective, it's been an up and down season for Verrett, although he snared his first career interception to seal the Week 6 win over the Raiders. With Brandon Flowers (concussion) also in danger of missing this week's game, San Diego's secondary could be perilously thin in advance of a date with Peyton Manning.