WAS-CHI Grades: CB Bashaud Breeland posts shutdown day in coverage
Here are the highest-graded players and top takeaways from Washington’s 24-21 win over Chicago.
– Jordan Reed (+2.4) is a crucial player for Washington’s offense. The damage he can do in the intermediate passing game helps open up the downfield shots for Kirk Cousins. The Bears had no answer to Reed on Sunday, as he caught all nine targets for 120 yards and a touchdown. Cousins had an almost perfect passer rating when targeting his number one tight end. Although Reed’s blocking remains an issue (he again graded negatively in pass protection and as a run blocker), he more than makes up for his deficiencies with the ball in his hands. He’s moved up to fifth amongst tight ends in terms of receiving grade alone, holds the fifth-highest yards per route run at the position, and has scored seven touchdowns.
– Washington’s coaching staff elected to give the majority of reps to Matt Jones (+1.6) against Chicago. Although Alfred Morris (-0.7) got the start, he ended up with just half the snaps (22) compared to the rookie from Florida (45). The decision to go with Jones turned out to be a good one. He rushed for 62 yards on 18 carries, with 47 after contact and four broken tackles, culminating in a +2.1 grade. Morris, meanwhile, carried 11 times for 24 yards (19 after contact) with a pair of broken tackles and a touchdown (-0.6 grade). While Morris might be more dependable, Jones probably has the higher upside. He proved his potential on Sunday against the Bears.
– One of the biggest improvements to Washington’s defense this season has come in the secondary. Bashaud Breeland (+4.2) looks a different player than he was as a rookie. He was dominant against Chicago, allowing just one catch on four targets with a pass deflection. All four of Breeland’s targets came when matched up with Alshon Jeffery, our sixth-highest graded wide receiver. Not only did Breeland have a shutdown day in coverage, but he showed a willingness to get his hands dirty against the run. He finished with three stops and a +1.8 grade in run defense. Breeland is in some form, with a +12.1 grade over the past six weeks, and is moving up the overall rankings. He’s now seventh overall amongst corners.
LCB Bashaud Breeland (+4.2)
ROLB Preston Smith (+2.6)
RT Morgan Moses (+2.5)
TE Jordan Reed (+2.4)
RG Brandon Scherff (+2.2)
– Matt Slauson (+4.0) has bounced back from an injury-riddled 2014 and elevated his game to another level. He was excellent against Washington, recording his seventh game above +1.0 in the past eight. Slauson was perfect in pass protection on 36 dropbacks, and had the second-highest run blocking grade amongst Chicago’s offensive lineman on Sunday. After recording a -2.1 grade in the first five weeks, he’s amassed a +18.9 grade since. Despite being shunted to center for a few games, Slauson’s performance levels barely dropped. He has the best pass blocking efficiency amongst guards, having allowed just four hurries on 326 dropbacks. Guard might not be the most valuable position, but Slauson is undoubtedly one of the Bears’ best offensive players.
– Despite losing Pernell McPhee to injury prior to the game against Washington, Chicago proved their depth at outside linebacker. Willie Young took on an every-down role, and responded with an impressive +3.6 grade. He made four defensive stops in the run game (+2.4 grade) and recorded a sack, hit and three hurries (+0.9). On the other side Sam Acho (+0.6) performed his two-down role in a typically effective, if unspectacular, fashion. Finally, Lamarr Houston (+2.6) rounds out the talented group. He recorded a sack and four hurries on 26 rushes to go with four stops. Considering that the Bears were without their high-priced free agent acquisition, they generated some impressive production from the outside linebacker position.
– While the Bears have an outstanding group of edge linebackers, they have a serious deficiency on the interior. After a good start to the year, Shea McClellin (-4.3) has tailed off significantly over the past few weeks. He has a -11.2 grade over the past four weeks, including this dreadful performance against the Redskins. Against Washington, he missed three tackles and made just a single stop. In addition, he gave up all five targets for 32 yards and a touchdown. Partnering him, Christian Jones (-2.3) had his fair share of struggles. He failed to make any defensive stops and was sealed consistently at the second level. Rotating with him, Jonathan Anderson (-1.4) struggled in equal measure. He was exposed in coverage, in particular, where he gave up a 30-yard completion. Investment in outside linebackers this offseason was probably wise, but the Bears need to find a solution on the interior, as well.
LG Matt Slauson (+4.0)
TE Zach Miller (+3.6)
LOLB Willie Young (+3.6)
LOLB Lamarr Houston (+2.6)
WR Alshon Jeffery (+2.4)