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Need to Know: Plenty of variables in Redskins QB situation

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Need to Know: Plenty of variables in Redskins QB situation

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, September 230, four days before the Redskins host the Eagles.

Question of the day

There are a lot of variables in the quarterbacks situation, rendering any prediction on if a change would be made from a healthy Cousins to Griffin is at best a guess. But let’s see if we can plough through some of the factors that Jay Gruden would have to consider.

First, I’m not so sure it’s fair to say that Cousins is “playing poorly”. He is more in the middle of the pack in most statistical categories. Sure, he has throw four interceptions, more than Jay Gruden would like. But eight quarterbacks, a fourth of the starters in the league, have thrown four or more picks this year.

But for our purposes here where he stands in comparison to the rest of the league is not as important as where he stands on the team. Could Griffin protect the ball better? To isolate one game, Cousins has received a great deal of criticism for throwing those two interceptions against the Giants. But he was forced to throw 49 passes. Griffin has thrown 49 or more times in a game twice. He was picked off twice in one of them and once in the other.

The disappointing game in the Meadowlands was just one game. Let’s look at the Dolphins game, when things were going better than they were against New York. Cousins was intercepted twice in 31 pass attempts. Griffin has attempted between 30 and 32 passes five times in his career. He threw five interceptions in those games including a pair or two-interception games. So Griffin is capable of having a similarly disappointing outing if he throws a similar number of attempts.

Setting aside the turnovers and expanding the view to career numbers, Griffin is slightly more accurate than Cousins (career completion percentage 63.9 Griffin, 61.1 Cousins) and he has a somewhat higher average yards per attempt (Griffin 7.6, Cousins 7.3). But Griffin gets sacked far more often (Griffin 8.7% of dropbacks, Cousins 3.7%), negating any advantage that Griffin has when passing. When you factor in yards lost on sacks, the offense gains an average of 6.3 yards every time Griffin drops back to pass compared to 6.7 for Cousins.

So, at the moment, there really is no evidence that Griffin would necessarily produce better than Cousins if he was in at quarterback under the same circumstances. But, with a few more games like the one against the Giants, where Cousins not only had the interceptions but also missed open receivers (notably Jordan Reed twice in the end zone), Gruden could feel the need to make a QB switch.

But would the change be to Griffin? Let’s say the Redskins stumble to 1-5 under Cousins and are out of any realistic playoff contention. What would there be to gain by risking the $16 million option guarantee if Griffin was to get injured badly enough to be unable to pass a physical in March of next year?

I think that if the season is lost and a quarterback change is made, the player under center would be Colt McCoy. Not because he’s the second best quarterback on the team—he’s not, he’s third by a clear margin—but because the risk of using Griffin, given his high sack rate, is greater than the reward.

Have we necessarily seen the last of Griffin? No, there could be some scenarios where an injury while the Redskins are still in playoff contention could open the door for one more chance for RG3. And, as I noted at the top of the post here, there are a lot of variables in play and an organization that can be unpredictable in its action. So while logic says that the RG3 era is over in DC, the reality could be a different outcome.

Have a question you'd like me to answer? Hit me up on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN or at Facebook.com/RealRedskins.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Practice 11:45; Jay Gruden, Kirk Cousins news conferences and player availability after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until: Eagles @ Redskins 4; Redskins @ Falcons 11; Redskins @ Jets 18

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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.