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Need to Know: Redskins starting QB job is Griffin's to lose

Need to Know: Redskins starting QB job is Griffin's to lose

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, March 26, 35 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Question of the day

A few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

I’m not answering a specific question today. Instead, I’m combining about half a dozen or so questions on the subject of the status of Robert Griffin III as the Redskins’ starting quarterback.

In a couple of sessions with reporters during the owners meetings in Arizona, Jay Gruden did supply some clarity to the situation, at least to the extent that it can be clarified in late March.

“He’s got the starting job right now,” Gruden said of Griffin Monday. “Hopefully he takes it and runs with it.” He reiterated that line of thinking on Wednesday.

So what does that mean? It seems like it boils down to the starting quarterback job is Griffin’s to lose.

He will get the first-team reps in OTAs and when training camp starts, according to Gruden. But it is not clear that he will get them when the regular season starts. That’s when him having the job “right now” comes into play as well has his need to “run with it”.

Gruden did not give any specifics about what the meant by “run with it”. But it’s safe to conclude that if he frequently is hesitant on pulling the trigger on passes during training camp like he was in 2014 or if he has a preseason game like he had in Baltimore last year he would be in jeopardy of being replaced by either Kirk Cousins or Colt McCoy.

This is different from what the situation has been for the three years that Griffin has been in the league. Going into each of those three seasons there was no question that Griffin would be behind center in Week 1, health permitting (or even when his health made it not such a good idea).

As Griffin takes the first-team snaps, McCoy and Cousins will share the others, Gruden said on Wednesday. Although it won’t be a quarterback competition in the traditional sense, with two QB’s splitting the first-team reps and the coach declaring a winner at some point, there still will be very much a competitive situation. If Griffin plays his way out of the job, whoever is deemed to be ahead between Cousins and McCoy will move into the starting quarterback job.

The ideal situation for the team would be for Griffin to get a firm hold on the job and start to get back to the level of effectiveness that he had when he earned rookie of the year honors in 2012. If not, and if Cousins and McCoy don’t turn out to be the answer, the Redskins could be starting from scratch at the quarterback position in 2016. And that is not where any team wants to be in a league where quality quarterbacks are scarce wants to be.

Timeline

—It’s been 88 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 171 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 25; 2015 NFL Draft 35; Redskins training camp starts 126

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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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.