A few days ago I posted the NFL Double Valid All-Pro Offense. Now, here’s the defense. A double valid is a player whose first and last names are valid plays in the popular board game Scrabble.*
Defensive Ends: Chandler Jones, Patriots; Derrick Morgan, Titans
A chandler is “one that makes or sells candles”, so if you have a chandler jones, you have a very strange addiction, possibly to wax. If you have Chandler Jones, then you’re the New England Patriots and you have a defensive end with excellent pass rushing skills. Jones is the best player on the Patriots d-line, because he’s the only true starter who doesn’t have an injured body part listed next to his name of the team roster.
A derrick is “a machine for hoisting and moving heavy objects”, and a morgan is “a unit of distance between genes”, so derrick morgan doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Derrick Morgan, on the hand, makes sense if you’re a fan of the Tennessee Titans; he was second on the team with six sacks. It should be noted, however, that the Titans defensive line was well below average.
Defensive Tackles: Pat Sims, Raiders; Alan Branch, Bills
The Raiders were terrible on defense this season. You don’t need any advanced metrics to recognize this; all you need is to remember that Nick Foles tied the single-game passing touchdown record against them by throwing seven scores, and Peyton Manning padded his single-season passing touchdown record against them by throwing four scores — in the first half. But, somewhat surprisingly, the Raiders d-line was halfway decent, and a big part of that was Pat Sims’ presence on the inside. At least I assume that was a big part of it; I never actually watched Pat Sims play. The Raiders were pretty low on my list of must-see teams this year. They were just below the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats and the Ottawa Rough Riders.
I remember Alan Branch from his Seahawks days (way back in 2012), but now he’s with the Bills, and presumable thriving, because the Bills had a terrific defense this year. Once everybody caught on to how good the Cardinals D was, the Buffalo Bills officially became the sneakily awesome defense of 2013. If they get any sort of passing game going next season, 2014 could be good to Bills fans … which is a weird thing to type. Oh, by the way, an alan is a “large hunting dog”, so it’s a pretty fitting name for a defensive tackle.
Linebackers: Junior Galette, Saints; Nick Roach, Raiders; Chad Greenway, Vikings
Junior Galette is my pick for MVP of this team, in more ways than one. He’s got the best name (if you’re wondering, a galette is “a flat round cake”), and he’s the best player. His development as a sack master is a big reason the Saints went from the worst defense in the league in 2012 to a top-10 unit in 2013.
Roach is a great last name, but Nick is a bit on the blah side as a first name. Roach held down the middle linebacker position for the aforementioned Raiders defense.
Chad Greenway is no Junior Galette, neither in the name department nor on the field, but he’s still a solid double valid. The compound word last name is nice.
Cornerbacks: Brent Grimes, Dolphins; Champ Bailey, Broncos
A brent is a brant, and a brant is “a wild goose”, so when Dolphins GM (at least for now) Jeff Ireland was trying to sign Brent Grimes in the off-season, you could say it was a wild goose chase. He caught the figurative brent (and literal Brent) for $5.5 million, and it was probably his best signing of the year; Grimes turned in a solid 2013. Although, when it comes to double valid Grimeses, I prefer this guy.
With a name like Champ Bailey, you basically have a permanent spot on this team. Champ, of course, is a winning first name, and a bailey, is “an outer castle wall”, which is an excellent metaphor for a shutdown defensive back. Once upon a time, Champ Bailey was the champ bailey of the NFL. He’s lost a step since his prime, but not enough to knock him off this team. In fact, I take back what I said about Junior Galette; Champ Bailey is the best name on the team.
Safeties: Ed Reed, Texans/Jets; Major Wright, Bears
Speaking of losing a step: Ed Reed. Not what he once was, by any means, but he can still contribute to a good defense, and he’s always going to be a nice, simplistic double valid.
The Bears defense officially became something other than the Bears defense this season (the barely defense?), but that was mainly due to their utter inability to stop the run. The pass D wasn’t catastrophic, merely a little below-average. So Major Wright (a.k.a. “Big Craftsman”) rounds out this team as the strong safety.
Punter: Drew Butler, Free Agent
That’s right. There was not a single double valid punter in the NFL this season. Such a shame. Drew Butler punted for the Steelers last season, and he was on the team again this year, before being cut in the preseason in favor of the terrifically named (but double invalid) Zoltan Mesko, who in turn was released mid-season in favor of Mat McBriar. Don’t worry though, Zoltan quickly got a job with the Bengals, and Butler, although not on an actual NFL team, is your 2013 double valid punter of the year. So, something positive he can add to his resume for next season.
That’s it. Enjoy the playoffs.
*Or, if you prefer, Words With Friends. Same word list, basically.