AFC South: Gerald McRah

Football Outsiders newest gold nuggets come in an evaluation of Stop Rates:
"Stop Rate is defined as the percentage of a players Plays that were Stops. Plays are any time a player shows up in the play-by-play on defense: tackles, assists, forced fumbles, etc. Stops are plays that stop the offense short of what FO considers a successful play: 45 percent of yards on first down, 60 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third or fourth down.

"Obviously, Stop Rate isn't a perfect stat. It measures the plays that a player makes, not the plays he misses or the plays he doesn't even get a chance to miss because he is being properly blocked away from the ballcarrier. Still, it gives you a good idea of where players were making their plays and thus why certain defenses were good or bad at certain parts of the game in 2010."

Let's break out the AFC South.

Linebackers

Among linebackers, Tennessee’s Will Witherspoon ranked 10th with a 79 percent rate and Indianapolis’ Kavell Conner was 12th at 77 percent.

On the other end of the scale: Houston’s Zach Diles was second-worst at 46 percent, Tennessee’s Gerald McRath was at 50 percent and Indianapolis’ Pat Angerer was 12th at 55 percent.

I’m surprised that Witherspoon was so effective and I think that production bodes well for his immediate future. I knew McRath would be bad -- he was nowhere near the playmaker the Titans advertised.

I thought Conner and Angerer made nice contributions for the Colts as rookies, and I would not have predicted either would be on the far end of the scale here.

Diles isn’t going to be on the field in Houston’s new defense very often.

Defensive linemen

Houston’s Antonio Smith tied for eighth at 87 percent.

Three guys from the AFC South rated among the worst: Indianapolis’ Dan Muir is second-worst at 54 percent, Houston’s Amobi Okoye fifth-worst at 64 percent and Indianapolis’ Robert Mathis eighth-worst at 66 percent.

Muir could be replaced by third-rounder Drake Nevis. Mathis, once regarded as exclusively a pass rusher, has improved as a run stopper, but this is a disappointing number. Okoye’s status in a 3-4 remains to be seen and many are speculating he won’t be on the final roster.

Defensive backs

No players from the AFC South made the top 12 or bottom 12 in the category.

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AFC SOUTH SCOREBOARD