With the Pro Bowl in the books, it is time to look at the worst performers at each position from this season. After 20 weeks of recognizing the best and brightest, the NFL has to offer, it is time to celebrate the disastrous performances from throughout the season. From historically poor to active negligence, let’s look at the worst 11 offensive players and worst 11 defensive players from the 2021 season.
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Quarterback: Davis Mills, Houston Texans (Week 4)
The signal-caller of the NFL’s worst team in 2021 was a close race between Mills and Week 17 Mike Glennon. Mills posted a QBR of 0.6 against the Buffalo Bills, good for 8,110th out of 8,114 qualifying starts. Glennon did not qualify for the QBR leaderboard, but his QBR of 0.0 is notable. Glennon also set a PFF record for worst grade by a quarterback. Either way, Mills qualified for the QBR leaderboard after completing 11 of 21 passes for 87 yards and four interceptions.
Running Back: AJ Dillon, Green Bay Packers (Week 7)
Divisional Round Cam Akers is a strong honorable mention, but at least he had 22 carries that were not fumbles. Dillon, on the other hand, had more fumbles than successful carries. On just three rushes, Dillon posted six yards and a pair of fumbles. His 30.0 PFF rushing grade was the lowest by any running back or fullback in 2021. He earned a 7.8 fumbling grade. Ironically, those were his only two fumbles on the season.
Wide Receiver: Sammy Watkins, Baltimore Ravens (Week 10)
Watkins did lose a fumble, but the pure apathy he showed against the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football is more than enough reason to include him here. It is hard to question a player’s effort during the game, but Watkins went brain-neutral for 60 minutes. On the opening drive, Watkins did not even attempt to catch a deep ball from Lamar Jackson, opting to watch it sail to the ground in catchable range. When Watkins did catch the football, he fumbled.
Wide Receiver: Robby Anderson & D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers (Week 6)
Maybe four hands are better than two. Both Anderson and Moore recorded three drops in the same game. It is hard enough to win when Sam Darnold is at the helm, but Anderson and Moore did their best to make it even harder. Anderson did score a touchdown, and Moore had 73 yards, but the two managed to catch just eight of 23 total targets with six ending as drops.
Wide Receiver: Jakeem Grant, Miami Dolphins (Week 2)
Grant may have only played five offensive snaps in Week 2, but he made the most of them. On his only target, Grant managed to record -5 yards after the catch and a fumble. His 32.0 receiving grade was the worst by any receiver in 2021, and he ended the day with a sub-30.0 PFF grade. Every person on the planet earned more yards after the catch than Grant did.
Tight End: Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills (Week 11)
To Knox’s credit, he did catch six passes for 80 yards as the Bills got massacred by the Indianapolis Colts. However, he was the only tight end of the season to drop three passes in a game. He mellowed out the day with a solid blocking performance, but whiffing on three targets in one game is inexcusable. He had six drops across 19 games in 2021.
Left Tackle: Dan Moore Jr., Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 8)
To Moore’s credit, he only allowed four pressures on 40 pass-blocking reps. However, Ben Roethlisberger saved Moore on most snaps. Myles Garrett pretended that the Steelers were playing with 10 players, scorching Moore on every rep. Garrett posted an otherworldly win rate of 48.1% on his pass-rushes, and he victimized Moore for four pressures on 26 snaps. Sometimes, pressure does not tell the full story. Moore ended with a 0.0 pass-blocking grade.
Left Guard: Wes Martin & Matt Skura, New York Giants (Week 6)
In Week 6, 171 offensive linemen played a snap. The two lowest-graded linemen played for the same team in the same position. Skura allowed three pressures en route to a 19.5 pass-blocking grade. His 28.6 overall PFF grade was pitiful. Martin followed by playing 26 snaps, earning a 23.5 overall grade bolstered by a 0.0 pass-blocking grade. He allowed a trio of pressures.
Center: Tyler Biadasz, Dallas Cowboys (Week 1)
Biadasz was so poor during the opening game of the 2021 NFL season that no center has matched his ineptitude. He allowed seven pressures, a figure that has yet to be matched at his position. He earned an ugly 27.9 pass-blocking grade across 69 pass-blocking snaps. As a run blocker, Biadasz was also subpar. On 14 run-blocking snaps, he earned a 55.7 PFF grade.
Right Guard: Jackson Carman, Cincinnati Bengals (Conference Championship)
Carman speed-ran trying to kill Joe Burrow. On just 20 pass-blocking snaps, Carman allowed six pressures. The six pressures allowed led all linemen during the week despite Carman ranking 21st in pass-blocking snaps played. He earned a comically low 0.1 pass-blocking grade. Carman did have a solid day as a run blocker, earning a 64.1 grade. In the end, Carman did not succeed at ruining the Bengals’ season.
Right Tackle: Storm Norton, Los Angeles Chargers (Week 18)
Considering the moment, Norton may have had the worst performance by any player in the NFL this season. He allowed a ridiculous 11 pressures in a win-or-go-home Week 18 matchup with the Las Vegas Raiders. He does have the saving grace of playing 72 pass-blocking snaps, but his 11 pressures allowed was the most by a tackle all season. Only Cody Ford’s 12 pressures allowed as a right guard in Week 3 topped Norton.
Interior Defensive Line: A’Shawn Robinson, Los Angeles Rams (Week 18)
Robinson had a strange game to end the regular season. On one hand, he notched two pressures including a sack and a forced fumble. On the other hand, he missed four tackles, the most by an interior player in the NFL all season. He may not have had the single-worst game played as an interior player, but his four missed tackles helped blow a 17-0 lead.
Interior Defensive Line: Renell Wren, Cincinnati Bengals (Week 18)
Sticking with the Week 18 theme, Wren had the highest volume of bad snaps among interior defenders. He played 41 snaps, and he posted a ghastly 27.1 PFF grade. He notched zero pressures and just one assisted tackle. In run defense, Wren was particularly poor. He earned a 26.4 run-defense grade in one of the worst efforts of the season by a player at any position.
Edge Defender: Dante Fowler Jr., Atlanta Falcons (Week 17)
Missed tackles might not be the fairest way to determine the worst game by a player, but it is consistent with stats such as fumbles and drops for the offense. Even after 20 weeks of play, just one edge defender missed four tackles in one week: Fowler. He posted an egregious 22.9 tackling grade in Week 17. He did rack up four pressures, but Fowler ended with sub-50.0 grades overall, in run defense, and as a pass rusher.
Edge Defender: Randy Gregory, Dallas Cowboys (Wild Card)
On 41 snaps, Gregory earned a 25.8 overall grade. This is despite Gregory posting four pressures, two quarterback hits, and a defensive stop. Gregory was such a disaster of a run defender (25.3 grade), that the rest of his performance tanked. He was flagged three times throughout the game. The rest of the edges were penalized just eight times during the whole weekend.
Linebacker: Alex Singleton, Philadelphia Eagles (Week 2)
Singleton missed five tackles en route to one of the worst games of the season. He posted a 34.0 overall grade with a 34.4 tackling grade. Singleton did have 12 total tackles (according to PFF), but his missed tackles were nothing short of pitiful. Additionally, Singleton allowed seven catches on nine targets, conceding 79 yards while in coverage. He had a 35.1 coverage grade.
Linebacker: Derrick Barnes, Detroit Lions (Week 18)
Barnes was tagged for 152 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the final game of the Lions’ season. Barnes was only targeted six times, but all six of those targets turned into catches. He posted a putrid 28.0 coverage grade en route to a 27.4 overall defensive grade. Barnes was torched after the catch, allowing 116 yards in those situations.
Cornerback: Bashaud Breeland, Minnesota Vikings (Week 1)
Breeland hit the trio of awful defensive stats to qualify for the last. He missed five tackles, tied for the most by any player in the NFL this season. He also allowed 100 yards in coverage and a pair of touchdowns. When targeted, Breeland conceded a 145.8 passer rating. Somehow, Breeland’s 26.0 overall grade hides some of his flaws. He posted a 25.3 coverage grade and a 24.3 tackling grade.
Cornerback: Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins (Week 5)
Just two NFL players allowed three touchdowns in a game all season. Ronnie Harrison did so for the Browns, but his spot was snatched by hilariously awful safety performances. Howard was the other. Howard was killed for 123 yards plus the three touchdowns, allowing a 149.3 passer rating. Howard earned a disgusting 29.9 coverage grade and an overall grade of just 30.9.
Safety: Daniel Sorensen, Kansas City Chiefs (Week 1)
Sorensen missed five tackles in the Chiefs’ Week 1 victory over the Cleveland Browns. His total tied the most missed tackles by an NFL player at any position. While Sorensen did record one quarterback hit, the rest of his performance was shoddy. He posted an ugly 24.2 tackling grade to go along with a run-defense grade of 33.8. His coverage grade of 51.8 was similarly poor.
Safety: Xavier Woods, Minnesota Vikings (Week 11)
Woods did break up a pass, but that is where the positives end. Woods was eviscerated for 152 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterbacks had a perfect 158.3 when targeting Woods. Woods missed a pair of tackles, and he had a coverage grade and a tackling grade in the 30s. His overall grade of 28.5 was his worst of the season and one of the worst by any safety in the 2021 NFL season.
Defensive Back: Marlon Humphrey, Baltimore Ravens (Week 7)
Humphrey did intercept one of Burrow’s passes, and he forced a fumble on a Ja’Marr Chase catch. Other than those two highlights, Humphrey had one of the worst cornerback games in a decade. He was obliterated to the tune of 227 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Humphrey earned a 26.2 tackling grade, missing a tackle that led to an 82-yard touchdown. Humphrey earned a reasonable grade, but his on-field production was nightmare fuel.
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