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The Shutdown Corner Midseason ‘No-Pro' Team: The Defense

Doug Farrar
Shutdown Corner

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Recently, Jeff Pearlman put together a list of the 100 worst players in NFL history for We found the list intriguing and certainly more interesting than at least one of those "legendary 100" did, but also thought that the idea needed a more modern touch. To that end, we've assembled a team of players that you'd do well to acquire if you're:

a.) looking to get the first overall pick in next year's draft;

b.) trying to assemble a team so bad that you can move it to another city like Rachel Phelps in "Major League"; or

c.) Matt Millen.

Halfway through the 2010 season, here is the Shutdown Corner "No-Pro" team; the guys who have underwhelmed more than any other at their positions. Some are having atypically poor seasons and might turn it around; others are what they are, to use the famous coachspeak. Here's the defensive team; you can find our offensive reclamation projects here.

Defensive End: Aaron Maybin(notes), Buffalo Bills/Vernon Gholston(notes), New York Jets/Jarvis Moss(notes), (formerly) Denver Broncos

One unhappy Buffalo sports writer recently hypothesized that Maybin is the NFL's worst player -- based on the evidence, his rapping leaves a lot to be desired, as well. Gholston hasn't managed to show any real improvement even under Rex Ryan, and we're of the opinion that if you can't improve as a defensive player under Rex, there's little hope for you. Still, it's tough to beat Moss' story -- selected with the 17th overall pick in the 2007 draft, Moss was recently released by the Denver Broncos and cleared waivers on Nov. 19. That's not unusual if you're looking to sign a player and avoid paying his current salary, but two days later, nobody's signed Moss.

Defensive Tackle: Daniel Muir(notes), Indianapolis Colts/Corey Williams(notes), Detroit Lions/Albert Haynesworth(notes), Washington Redskins

The Colts are generally weak up the middle, and this year, Muir seems to be the problem; he's allowing 4.4 yards per carry in his direction, and he has the NFL's worst Stop Rate (Football Outsiders' metric that reflects the percentage of plays in which successful plays are prevented). Williams is having a pretty decent year, though it's a lot easier to look good when Ndamukong Suh(notes) is blowing up everything he sees on that Lions' defensive line. Williams is here because he's the league's most penalized defensive lineman -- he's got six encroachment calls. And we're putting Haynesworth on here just for the sake of the game's integrity.

Outside Linebacker: Zach Diles, Houston Texans/Scott Shanle(notes), New Orleans Saints

Diles is the Texans' Swiss army knife; he's replaced Brian Cushing(notes) and DeMeco Ryans(notes) in various packages over the last year, but he really stands out as an appealing target for enemy quarterbacks. He's got a 23 percent Stop Rate against the pass and has been involved in 39 pass plays, with no picks and no passes defensed. Moving between weakside and strongside this season after losing battery mate Scott Fujita(notes) to the Browns, Shanle has racked up the worst Stop Rate against the pass (19 percent) of any outside linebacker. Pass plays in his general direction have averaged 9.6 yards -- we're no math professors, but when you're almost giving up a first down per play, that's not good.

Inside Linebacker: A.J. Hawk(notes), Green Bay Packers/Paul Posluszny(notes), Buffalo Bills

Hawk was relegated out of the Packers' base defense early in the year due to his weakness against the pass; his agent made noises about a trade in September, but there were no takers. The Packers certainly have expected more of a guy they took with the fifth overall pick in 2006. Like many Bills defenders in 2010, Poz has been better in previous seasons -- a Stop Rate of 49 percent doesn't cut it. If you want to know the real value of Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, look at the Bills defense he left behind.

Cornerback: William Gay(notes), Pittsburgh Steelers/C.C. Brown(notes), Detroit Lions/Mike Jenkins(notes), Dallas Cowboys/Glover Quin(notes), Houston Texans

Gay has been a thorn in the side of Steeler Nation for a while, but he made his presence known on a national scale when he was beaten on all three of Rob Gronkowski's(notes) touchdowns last Sunday. Cornerbacks are supposed to be able to keep up with tight ends, dude. Brown is the player who was unhappy about his inclusion on Pearlman's list, and he won't like this any better, but when your nickname among football observers is "Can't Cover" ... well, things go the way they go. Jenkins leads the league with five pass-interference penalties, and Quin has played as you'd expect from the pointman of the NFL's worst pass defense.

Safety: LaRon Landry(notes) (and his coaching staff), Washington Redskins/Jairus Byrd(notes), Buffalo Bills/Eugene Wilson(notes), Houston Texans

With their current per-game average of 415.3 yards allowed, the Redskins are currently on pace to field the fifth-worst defense in NFL history from that perspective. Landry's been an on-and-off player since he came into the league in 2007, but his performance against the Eagles last Monday night sealed the deal. He was frequently abused at the spy position by Michael Vick(notes), and he had no chance against Philly's deep receivers. Still, that's another issue we have with the Redskins' coaching staff; Landry is a natural strong safety put in bad positions. Byrd, who picked off nine passes last year, has no interceptions and just one pass defensed (11 last year) in 2010 despite being involved in 23 pass plays, a fairly high total for a safety. Wilson is the free safety on the NFL's worst pass defense, and his Stop Rate of 19 percent against the pass (league average would be about 50 percent) fingers him as a root cause.

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