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Need to Know: Luck's extension was no surprise to Redskins, Cousins

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Need to Know: Luck's extension was no surprise to Redskins, Cousins

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, July 1, 27 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 173 days ago. It will be 73 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 14; Preseason opener @ Falcons 41; Final roster cut 64

Quick hits

—One thing that needs to be taken into account when talking about the Andrew Luck contract extension and its effect on Kirk Cousins’ negotiations is that the deal did not come out of the blue. Jim Irsay has been talking about it publically for a couple of months and the $25 million per year figure has been speculated by many. Redskins cap guru Eric Schaffer certainly has had figures close to the actual amounts in Luck’s deal plugged into his evaluation of the QB market. Ditto for Mike McCartney, Cousins’ agent. Luck’s contract is still a game changer but the change took place long ago.

—Last year the Redskins defense was 12th in the NFL in stopping opponents on third down, allowing the opposition to convert 37.7 percent of the time. As anyone who watched them consistently last year might guess, their room for improvement comes in their rushing defense. When opponents passed the ball the Redskins allowed a first down 31.4 percent of the time, significantly better than the league average of 36.2 percent. But when opponents ran the ball on third down they were successful 51.2 percent of the time, a tick over the league average of 50.6 percent.

—For the sake of comparison the 2014 Redskins, who were 24th in opponents’ third-down percentage, were better against the run than against the pass. They beat the league average against the run with 43.2 percent conversions compared to 48.8 percent for the league. But they were 31st against the pass, allowing first downs on 43.8 percent of third down pass plays compared to the league average of 37.8 percent. Since teams pass on third down almost four times more often than they run the ability to stop the pass on third down is much more important to overall third down success.

—Joe Barry and company deserve some credit for the improvement in third down conversions between 2014 and last year. That and improvement in takeaways (19 in 2014, 27 last year) were big reasons why the Redskins were able to rank 17th in points allowed while standing at 28th in yards allowed. That is a good statistical picture of a bend but don’t break defense.

Thursday on Twitter

If the Redskins could get Cousins to accept this they should send a plane for him and get him to sign it immediately.

In case you missed it 

 

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

For years, the Redskins struggle with their home field as the fall turns to winter. It's been happening so long it's become an expected passing of the seasons, like the transition from Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Christmas lights dotting people's front yards. 

Well, on Thanksgiving night, the turf at FedEx Field again showed how bad it can be. On a second half interception returned for a New York Giants touchdown, replay showed that Kirk Cousins' foot got stuck on the dirt, and it played a role in his sailing a ball to the sideline. The bad turf was not the only reason for the interception, but it was definitely a reason. 

Beyond the pick, the field was just ugly. Twitter blew up making fun of the Redskins home grass, and the national broadcast showed just how unsightly the long brown patch between the hash marks looked. 

On Friday, the normally diplomatic Cousins opened up about the grass.

"It probably doesn't look like a professional NFL field should," the quarterback said on 106.7 the Fan (full audio here). "If you think the field is rough now on Thanksgiving, we've got two more home games in mid-to-late December. That's probably going to be a bigger challenge."

Asked about the field's impact on the interception on Thursday night, Cousins ignored it. But plenty of other players have suggested the field is a known problem in the second half, and something they just must deal with. 

"I don't know why it is that way or what causes it," Cousins said. "I've kind of learned to accept it and understand it's part of the deal. Playing here on the field has never been that great in the second half of the season for whatever the reason."

[h/t @BenStandig for the Cousins quotes]

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When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

At halftime of the Redskins’ Thanksgiving night game against the Giants, Samaje Perine had three yards rushing and his team had three points. Washington had racked up all of 113 yards.

Coincidence? Not entirely. Although the Redskins are primarily a passing team they need to run the ball to pass effectively.

“We had to get the running game going,” said Jay Gruden after the game.

In the second half, Perine and the offense did get it going. Perine ran for 97 yards and Redskins put up 210 yards and 17 points. It’s safe to say that it wasn’t a coincidence.

The Redskins didn’t make any halftime adjustments to get the ground game in gear.

“We just had to stay the course,” said Perine. “We knew they were going to come out fired up, they just came off a big win. We just had to stay the course and then things started going our way.”

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS OF THE WIN

Perine was more steady than spectacular. His longest run was 16 yards. He came out of the locker room and ran for six and 10 yards on his first two carries. Later in the third quarter the Redskins were backed up at their own 10. Perine ran four straight plays for 39 yards and the Redskins were near midfield.

Although they didn’t score on that drive they did change field position. That was part of the Redskins’ strategy playing with an injury-depleted offense.

“If you had to punt in a game like this and play field position, it’s not the end of the world because our defense was playing so good,” said Gruden.

Not only did the running game flip the field, it flipped the time of possession. In the first half, the Giants had the ball for 17:40 compared to 12:20 for the Redskins.

“We had to get on the field and control some of the clock,” said tackle Morgan Moses. “We had to give our defense a rest. Samaje put his foot in the ground and got extra yards when needed and we were able to move the chains.”

Moses wasn’t the only one enjoying seeing Perine pile up some yards.

“As a defensive player, you want to see that,” said safety D.J. Swearinger. “We say, keep running it. Keep running him. Let him keep getting those carries, put a dent in the defense. It was a good sight to see.”

RELATED: FIVE KEY MOMENTS IN RESKINS VS GIANTS

Swearinger got to watch a lot of Perine. The Redskins piled up 22:17 in possession in the second half, while Swearinger and his defensive mates had to defend for just 7:43.

Last night was the second time in four days that Perine has rushed for 100 yards or more; he had 117 in New Orleans on Sunday. No Redskin has rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games since Alfred Morris did it in November of 2013.

He will have a chance to extend that streak to three on Thursday against the Cowboys, who are ranked 17th in rushing defense. That would put him in some elite company in Redskins history, including Larry Brown (twice) and Stephen Davis.  A steak of three straight 100-yard games was last done by Morris in 2012.

It may be a little early to look forward, but the Redskins record is five straight 100-yard games, held by Clinton Portis (twice) and Ladell Betts.  

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.