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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Lamenting a lost opportunity

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Lamenting a lost opportunity

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, December 12, one day before the Washington Redskins play the Bears in Chicago.

Redskins Week 14 in review

Some thoughts on the news during the week that was:

Missed opportunity for the Redskins—There’s no other way to put it; they blew it against the Cowboys. It was predicable because it’s apparent that this team is not ready for prime time (literally and figuratively) but at the same time it was somewhat shocking to see them bumble to the loss in the fashion that they did.

The accelerated phaseout of Alfred Morris—The player who Jay Gruden insists is still his “No. 1 back” played eight snaps and got six carries in the most important game of the year. It’s apparent they are going to move on from Morris when his contract is up at the end of the year but what’s baffling is Gruden’s refusal to even say that Morris and Matt Jones are 1-A and 1-B. It’s costing him credibility

Should the Redskins abandon the run?—I was sort of kidding when I wrote this but they can’t go on gaining less than three yards per attempt. At some point you just have to say you’re going to throw the ball and spread out the field and do it. Maybe this Sunday in a rainy Soldier Field against a Bears rushing defense that allows 4.8 yards a carry isn’t the time to do it. But at some point, before the season is lost, Gruden has to consider it.

'Banged up' Redskins cancel practice, hold walkthrough—This drew some snickers on social media when I posted the article on Wednesday but, news flash, not everybody on Twitter and Facebook knows what they’re talking about. Practice was scheduled less than 36 hours after a very physical Monday night loss. With six players out and four more limited it would have been hard to conduct even a light practice. The walkthrough was the way to go.

Skins' Thompson has a torn labrum—The third-down back went into the Dallas game with a sprained shoulder and came out of it with an even more severe injury. While I’m interested to see if Matt Jones can make some plays filling in on third downs, Thompson has a burst that Jones doesn’t have.

'Keep ripping it out'—One are where the Redskins’ defense has improved is in the takeaway department. They have 20 on the season, one more than they did all of last year. Unfortunately the Redskins have been able to turn those takeaways into a mere 28 points. But the D is doing its job here.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: No availability; travel to Chicago

Days until: Redskins @ Bears 1; Bills @ Redskins 7; Redskins @ Eagles 14

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.