CLE-WAS grades: Rushing game pushes Redskins past Browns

Highest-graded players and top takeaways from the Redskins' Week 4 win over the Browns.

| 3 weeks ago
Redskins RB Matt Jones

(Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

CLE-WAS grades: Rushing game pushes Redskins past Browns

Washington Redskins 31, Cleveland Browns 20

Here are the biggest takeaways and highest-graded players from the Washington Redskins’ 31-20 victory over the Cleveland Browns.

Washington Redskins

Quarterback grade: Kirk Cousins, 57.8

Cousins does just enough in win

Washington didn’t ask a lot from its signal caller in the win against Cleveland. As a result, Kirk Cousins didn’t have a remarkable performance. His first touchdown pass was a very nice laser to TE Jordan Reed, but that was the best throw he made all day, and he also had an ugly interception when he misread the coverage and did not see Browns cornerback Jamar Taylor, who picked him off. It tells a lot about Cousins’ limited role that only five of his 26 aimed passes went 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, and he only completed two of these attempts.

Kirk Cousins under pressure versus Browns

Redskins QB Kirk Cousins

Top offensive grades:

RB Matt Jones, 83.8

RT Morgan Moses, 77.3

LT Trent Williams, 76.3

RB Chris Thompson, 70.7

TE Jordan Reed, 69.8

Washington’s ground game earns win

With the passing game taking a backseat, it was Washington’s running attack that won the game for the Redskins. Washington’s success on the ground was due to the combination Matt Jones’ elusiveness and good blocking from the offensive line. The line was able to open holes for the RBs, who averaged more than 2 yards before contact. In addition, Jones was able to force four missed tackles on 22 carries and averaged nearly 4 yards after contact.

Top defensive grades:

LB Mason Foster, 79.8

LB Will Compton, 79.6

DE Chris Baker, 79.1

DE Ziggy Hood, 72.4

OLB Trent Murphy, 72.1

Redskins’ defense able to generate pressure

Washington had 10 different players record at least one QB pressure against the Browns, as they were able to put Cleveland quarterback Cody Kessler under pressure on 35.7 percent of his dropbacks. Edge defender Trent Murphy led the defense with four total pressures, as he recorded a sack, a quarterback hit, and two quarterback hurries. As for the back seven, while CB Josh Norman struggled against WR Terrelle Pryor in the first half (allowing 42 yards and a touchdown), he was able to make up for it as he recorded a crucial interception by breaking on a pass.

Cleveland Browns

Quarterback grade: Cody Kessler, 46.6

Kessler does not provide downfield threat

Although Kessler connected on 77.8 percent of his aimed passes, this figure is deceiving, as the average depth of his targets was just 5.3 yards against Washington. It seemed like the Browns’ risk-averse game plan was designed so Kessler couldn’t lose the game for them, but he couldn’t win it with his arm, either. For most of the afternoon, the former USC quarterback took good care of the ball and was accurate on 26 of his 29 passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. However, he attempted only seven passes that travelled more than 10 yards in the air, and forced one such throw to Pryor that was picked off by Norman in the second half.

Cody Kessler passing under pressure versus Redskins

Cody Kessler under pressure

Top offensive grades:

RB Isaiah Crowell, 84.1

LG Joel Bitonio, 80.3

LT Joe Thomas, 79.0

RT Austin Pasztor, 75.9

RG John Greco, 68.6

Crowell shines as other Cleveland runners struggle

Cleveland’s running game had mixed success, as fullback Malcolm Johnson lost the football on his first carry of the season, and Duke Johnson also had a fumble. However, on the other hand, starter Isaiah Crowell had a terrific day. Cleveland’s No. 1 runner forced eight missed tackles on just 16 carries, and he also averaged exactly 6 yards after contact. Interestingly, while Cleveland’s runners averaged just 2.6 yards outside the tackles, they were able to gain 8.2 yards on average between the tackles.

Top defensive grades:

CB Jamar Taylor, 81.5

DE Stephen Paea, 78.2

NT Danny Shelton, 76.8

NT Jamie Meder, 75.5

DE Xavier Cooper, 74.3

Browns’ inability to defend against the run leads to loss

While Cleveland defenders recorded 19 defensive stops—which represent tackles that constitute an offensive failure—they missed nine tackles, as seven different Browns defender missed at least one tackling attempt. Also, Cleveland had several key contributors who earned a run-defense grade below 50.0 in this game, including linebackers Demario Davis and Chris Kirksey.

PFF Game-Ball Winner: Redskins RB Matt Jones

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.

  • Jason Martin

    How do Foster and Compton grade so highly for the Redskins? In the next section you guys make a big deal about how Crowell was able to find so much room running right up the middle. Washington’s ILB play was putrid yesterday.