WAS-CHI grades: Washington's 5 picks lead to victory
Washington Redskins 41, Chicago Bears 21
Here are the top-graded players and biggest storylines from Washington’s 41-21 win over the Chicago Bears in Week 16:
Quarterback grade: Matt Barkley, 37.6
Barkley’s stunning streak crashes to an end
One poor performance does not invalidate the promise Matt Barkley has shown in the last month, but this was not a Christmas Eve to remember after four strong games in a row. Barkley needed Washington’s defensive backs to drop as many passes as his receivers did against the Titans at the start of his starting streak but they were not in a charitable mood. Barkley racked up five interceptions and ran the whole range of reasons for those interceptions: passes forced into triple coverage, poorly placed passes into single coverage, a pass breakup that bounced to Bashaud Breeland. There were still positives in here, with some well-placed throws at the intermediate level in particular, but the wheels fell off for Barkley down the field especially.
Top offensive grades:
WR Cameron Meredith, 83.0
C Cody Whitehair, 82.1
WR Alshon Jeffery, 79.3
HB Jordan Howard, 75.0
LG Josh Sitton, 70.9
Bears outgunned but more glimpses of hope for the future
Since dropping 12 passes in Matt Barkley’s first start against Tennessee, the Bears receivers have only dropped seven passes in four games, and Cameron Meredith came up with a big game in defeat Saturday. Alshon Jeffery picked up some big gains against Josh Norman as well (only one 14-yard catch came against anyone other than Norman). Jordan Howard impressed on the ground again, breaking seven tackles, taking advantage of more solid blocking from Cody Whitehair to gain more than 6.0 yards per carry through the A-gaps. For as impressive as these isolated performances were though the litany of turnovers were too much for the Bears to keep pace with and they were comfortably seen off with Washington’s final touchdown re-applying the emphatic margin of victory this game deserved.
Top defensive grades:
LB Jerrell Freeman, 84.3
CB Johnthan Banks, 76.9
S Harold Jones-Quartey, 72.5
DE Akiem Hicks, 71.6
S Adrian Amos, 70.2
Fleeting resistance on defense as Washington roll to victory
LB Jerrell Freeman added four stops to his season total and despite missing the previous four games still comfortably leads the Bears’ defense in stops with 51 on the season. Around him the Bears’ defense struggled to contain, or even stay close to, DeSean Jackson. The defense couldn’t generate any meaningful pressure on Kirk Cousins and on the ground missed gap fits and consistent yards after contact by Rob Kelley were the hallmarks of a lacklustre defensive performance by Chicago.
Quarterback grade: Kirk Cousins, 85.5
Cousins delivers by air and ground
This was a strong showing from Kirk Cousins and but for some misfires down the field it could have been an even bigger day with the Bears showing little willingness to get particularly close to DeSean Jackson. Cousins added a couple of touchdowns on the ground to his screen pass touchdown to Chris Thompson as the Bears struggled to get any pressure on Cousins to disrupt Washington’s rhythm. The Bears’ secondary was in a giving mood and Cousins hit all the passes he needed to at every level that even with the couple of missed throws down the field he was able to ease Washington to victory.
Top offensive grades:
LT Trent Williams, 85.8
WR Pierre Garcon, 81.7
RT Morgan Moses, 80.8
LG Shaun Lauvao, 78.5
C Spencer Long, 73.6
Washington offense rebounds in style
After a disappointing home defeat to the Panthers the Redskins’ offense put forth a strong group showing in this one. Through the air the likes of Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson exploited some ropey coverage by the Chicago secondary. On the ground, Rob Kelley ran the ball hard behind an offensive that created movement all game with Mack Brown putting an exclamation point on the performance with a 61-yard garbage-time touchdown to ease Washington to victory and keep their playoff hopes alive going into Week 17.
Top defensive grades:
CB Josh Norman, 83.9
OLB Preston Smith, 79.9
S Will Blackmon, 79.8
DE Chris Baker, 78.8
S Donte Whitner, 77.7
Norman and the defense get some presents early
Not all the interceptions Matt Barkley threw came with a bow on them but he certainly tried his best to throw the ball into the leverage of the Washington defenders rather than his receivers’. Josh Norman snagged a pair of picks and dominated Cameron Meredith on a route to setup Bashaud Breeland’s second of the game. Breeland’s first was the most impressive, rolling back on a post route that was already double covered to add triple coverage and pick off a baffling underthrown deep ball by Barkley to start the game right. The pass rush didn’t quite engage and get after Matt Barkley in the way the score should have set them up to do but when they did the secondary made the most of the pressure with three of Barkley’s five picks coming on 10 pass attempts under pressure.
PFF Game-Ball Winner: Washington CB Josh Norman, 83.9
PFF’s player grading process includes multiple reviews, which may change the grade initially published in order to increase its accuracy. Learn more about how we grade and access grades for every player through each week of the NFL season by subscribing to Player Grades.