STL-WAS Grades: Donald shines despite rough loss

The top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Rams-Redskins game.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

(AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

STL-WAS Grades: Donald shines despite rough loss


Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Rams-Redskins game:

St. Louis Rams

— DT Aaron Donald (+7.9) continued his dominant level of play despite the loss, racking up a sack and two additional hurries as well as four solo stops. Donald’s +7.9 overall grade was the highest by far among either team. Donald’s pass rushing productivity on the season stands at 12.1, the highest among all defensive tackles. His pass rush grade (+9.9) and run defense grade (+8.7) are both the highest at his position, as well.

— After a positive game last week, QB Nick Foles (-6.3) fell back down to earth with a very below-average game. He held the ball too long multiple times, and missed wide open receivers even more. He made one great throw on his lone touchdown to WR Kenny Britt (-1.3), but finished the day with a -6.3 passing grade. He really struggled when he was under pressure (38% of his dropbacks), going a mere 2-for-11 for 12 yards.

— CB Trumaine Johnson (+2.5) had another strong game at corner, finishing with a +1.7 pass coverage grade. Johnson mostly worked against WRs Pierre Garcon (0.0) and Ryan Grant (+0.2), limiting them to just one catch by Garcon for 3 yards. The only other pass he saw (thrown to Grant), he broke up himself. Johnson’s +4.9 overall grade through two games is third among all corners in the league.

Top Performers:

DT Aaron Donald (+7.9)
DE Chris Long (+3.3)
DT Michael Brockers (+3.2)
DT Nick Fairley (+2.9)
CB Trumaine Johnson (+2.5)

Washington Redskins

— QB Kirk Cousins (+0.9) did what he needed to do to win this game, but not much more than that. He finished with a +0.4 passing grade, throwing plenty of short throws and letting receivers do the rest. Of his 27 attempts, only five of them were thrown beyond 10 yards downfield, of which he completed two for 56 yards. Of his 203 yards, only 91 of them were in the air, the rest being gained after the catch. That percentage (44.8% YIA) was the sixth-lowest among QBs across the league this week.

— A great day for DE Jason Hatcher (+3.7) rushing the passer that doesn’t show up in the sack column due to the Rams’ strategy of quick passes. Hatcher had five QB hurries and finished with a +4.9 pass rush grade, which was the highest among either team. He struggled elsewhere however, finishing the game with no tackles and a -1.3 run defense grade.

— The Redskins did well to win the game considering the very poor play of C Kory Lichtensteiger (-10.0). He was constantly beaten when pass blocking, surrendering a sack, a QB hit and an additional hurry en route to a -4.3 pass block grade. His run blocking was arguably worse (-5.8). If you take away RB Alfred Morris’ (-2.4) 35-yard run (a zone play where Lichtensteiger received double team help), the Redskins ran the ball on either side of Lichtensteiger 10 times and gained 11 yards. The Redskins averaged 6.33 yards per carry (27 rushes for 171 yards) everywhere else in the game.

Top Performers:

DT Jason Hatcher (+3.7)
TE Jordan Reed (+2.3)
ILB Keenan Robinson (+1.9)
TE Derek Carrier (+1.9)
OLB Ryan Kerrigan (+1.5)

| Analyst

Bryson has been an analyst at Pro Football Focus since 2014, and has also been a contributor to 120 Sports.

  • Aldo

    I’ll assume you missed the block Lichtenstiger made in space to spring Jones on his 1st TD, he made a ton of ground and sealed the LB to give the edge to the RB.

    Given the big ratings handed out to their DL, I’m guessing it was the inability of the LBs to fill their gaps that caused the defense to be gashed in the run game?

    • sikologik

      I had the same thought. Somewhere above here, it was stated that the Redskins had no trouble at all moving the ball in the ground game, but I would disagree with that. Sure, they gained plenty of yards on the ground, but the situation pretty much throughout the game was that they were either stopped for virtually no gain or they ripped off an 8-10 yard run (excluding of course the two long runs on the first TD drive). That suggests to me that the DL played pretty well, but the linebackers sucked… in run defense, anyway.

      • Kyle

        It was a combo of big plays and solid yardage gain. Almost every run was a positive gain. Guys like Brockers, Quinn and Donald seemed to have a minimal impact. And Donald certainly didn’t have a +7.3 (?) impact

        • Colin

          You need to watch the tape again. Donald was in the backfield almost every play. Watch the Redskins first rushing touchdown. He was a few inches from stopping that play for -4 but he bounced outside and McLeod misplayed the run which led to the big TD. Donald abused the interior line all day though. It makes sense that his grade was so high.

  • Salty Dog

    One thing this may highlight is the effect that the number of snaps has on the grades. Pretty sure the PFF grades are a sum total – i.e. that Aaron Donald got a total of +7.9 points through the game. But the Rams D played 66 snaps versus 46 for the ‘Skins since the ‘Skins were able to control time of possession. If you look at it on a points per play (PPP) basis, Donald would be at 0.12 PPP whereas Jason Hatcher’s +3.7 would be 0.08 PPP – much closer on a per-snap basis than would be indicated by the raw number. Clearly all players aren’t going to be on the field for every play, so you’d need to use the actual number of plays Donald/Hatcher were on the field for, but that would account for the difference in snap totals. If you don’t account for that, then you’re skewing the stats a bit. We all know the Rams have a talented D-line, so the more plays they’re out there, the more points they’re going to rack up.

  • Salty Dog

    Another thing I’d love to see is some sort of aggregate grade for the offense and defense on each side and a comparison between that and the actual offensive/defensive production. It would basically be a grade for the scheme and playcalling.

    This game is a perfect example of why that would be useful. The Rams clearly have a great defensive line, but the ‘Skins were able to negate most of its impact. They know Lichtensteiger isn’t their best O-lineman, so they ran wide far more than they did between the tackles. They knew the Rams would be able to get pass rush pressure, so they went with a run-heavy approach and asked Cousins only to throw short passes on time. If you look at the aggregate grade of the offense, it’s not going to be particularly high because no one played spectacularly, yet the results were good – probably better than would be suggested by the raw grades.

    Sometimes that’s going to be attributed to luck – for example, a play where the QB throws what should be an easy pick six that bounces off the DB’s hands into the WR’s hands for a TD – but more often than not it’s going to be attributed to a smart game plan. That was the case here. The ‘Skins played to their strengths, minimized the impact of their weaknesses, and as a result were able to effectively dominate the game. That could be translated fairly easily into a stat, e.g. total yards per point. Washington had 373 total yards. If they had an aggregate of +20 PFF ratings points on offense, you’d have 18.65 yds/point. The higher that number, the more effective the gameplan was. That would serve as a metric by which to evaluate the coach and OC, just as the existing PFF grades serve to evaluate the performance of each individual player.

  • David Carpenter

    Redskins flat outplayed the Rams who looked flat throughout the game. I agree it would be nice to see aggregate grades for offense and defense in addition to individual performances. Despite all the high grades on the Ram defense the Redskins gained 180 yards rushing on them and were consistently able to move the ball on long sustained drives for scores. I would really like to know the individual as well as aggregate grades for Ram offensive line. they never got any push in the run game

    • Salty Dog

      I’m shocked how little the Rams tried to run their RBs. 13 runs versus 33 passes, and of those 13 runs, 4 were by Tavon Austin and 1 was Foles. That means 8 runs from RBs for 26 yards, as opposed to 37 runs by RBs for the ‘Skins for 182 yards. You’re not even going to be able to get any sort of run grade for the Rams OL with only 8 true running plays. I don’t count the “runs” by Austin as true running plays since it’s more of a gadget sweep look to try and take advantage of his speed on the edge.

    • NJO1978

      If you subscribe you would know all of that and then some.

  • Kyle

    I’m a huge PFF fan and subscriber, but it is absolutely baffling how the line, one that shut down the Rams pass rush all but entirely and rushed for almost 200 yards was graded so poorly. Schereff was exceptional, Moses got good push and the line as a whole was dominant blocking for Matt Jones, who nobody could tackle.

    Yet, the skins offense got a negative grade and the Rams defense was well in the positive, with Donald, who didn’t seem to have much impact, being graded VERY highly.

    • Colin

      You realize a D line could dominate but if the linebackers have no gap integrity you get tons of big runs right? Trust me, I’m a Rams fan and I was happy with the D line’s penetration but the LBs and safety’s did a horrendous job all game long. Notice you don’t see any good grades for Laurinaitis or Ogletree. I’m sure they didn’t fare as well since they were the cause of lots of those big runs.

      • Frank

        Yup, Rams D line was in the backfield and penetrating consistently on runs, rams LBs just failed to contain and fill the gaps. I’d say if anyone was dominant in run blocking it was probably the Redskins TEs. They just gobbled up our LBs and all the RBs had to do was get around our big guys.

  • mrudon

    Shocking that the Redskins won by 2TDs. According to the individual player grades the Rams severely out played the Redskins. Considering the Rams didn’t turn the ball over that would seem to be impossible. Maybe the Rams didn’t play as well as you think or the Redskins didn’t play as poorly as you think.