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Need to Know: Should the Redskins have run more on third and short?

Need to Know: Should the Redskins have run more on third and short?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, May 29, 18 days before the Redskins hold their minicamp.

(I'm out on vacation this week. I'll be bringing back some of the more popular and talked about posts from the past. Enjoy the "best of" posts and if you're in Corolla, NC give me a shout!)

Question of the day

Today’s question is from right here in the comments section here on Real Redskins.
In the DAL game i know I saw it because rg3 threw a pick on 3rd & 1 or 4th & 1. But how many times on 3rd & 4 or less did we pass? If u can’t run the ball and get a yard like against DAL you aren’t supposed to win. With all of the qbs struggling and a hb that had 1600 yards a couple seasons back and is healthy why not run? Our 3rd down convo rate was horrible i have to believe someone is going to pull Grudens to the side and say run the ball right?
OK, let’s look at the numbers first. In 2014, on third or fourth with three or four yards to go NFL teams ran the ball 14 percent of the time. The Redskins reflected the league average here, running 14 percent of the time.

Looking at one or two yards to go, we see the Redskins running less often than the league as a whole. The NFL ran 57 percent of the time on third and short while Washington ran just 47 percent in those situations.

They were not very successful when they ran the ball. They ran 20 times on third and one or two and converted 12 times, a conversion rate of 60 percent. The league as a whole converts 68 percent of the time.

But, then again, they weren’t that good passing the ball with a yard or two to go. They converted 11 of 23 times, 48 percent. The league was successful passing on third and short 57 percent of the time.

So, perhaps they should have run the ball more on third and short give that they were more successful doing that. But the thing that strikes me here is that we constantly heard from Jay Gruden, Sean McVay, and others was that the Redskins poor third-down conversion rate was due to them always being in third and long. But they couldn’t get it done in the situations where they did find themselves in third and short, so it really didn’t make that much difference.

Timeline

—It’s been 152 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 107 days until they play another one

Days until: Redskins minicamp starts 18; Redskins training camp starts 62; Thursday night Redskins @ Giants 118

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.