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Need to Know: Where do the Redskins' top two cornerbacks rank?

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Need to Know: Where do the Redskins' top two cornerbacks rank?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, July 12, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 184 days ago. It will be 62 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Franchise tag contract deadline 3; Preseason opener @ Falcons 30; Final roster cut 53

Where does the Norman-Breeland duo rank?

Last week on NFL.com, former Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor ranked the top cornerback tandems in the NFL going into the 2016 season. His top duo was the Broncos’ Aqib Talib and Chris Harris. It’s hard to argue with ranking the pair of cornerbacks on the defense that spearheaded the Broncos’ run to the Lombardi Trophy at the top.

Taylor goes through his top five in detail. He ranks Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu of the Cardinals second (Taylor admits he’s fudging a bit as Mathieu is a safety/slot corner), followed by the Bengals’ duo of Dre Kirkpatrick and Adam Jones, the Giants Donimique Roders-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins, and Kyle Fuller and Tracy Porter of the Bears.

He also mentioned the Chargers’ and Bills’ corner tandems as just having missed the list.

The issue with this ranking, besides the fact that it’s not complete, is that it looks at duos. With NFL teams lining up with three or more wide receivers on over half of the snaps it makes more sense to talk about corners in groups of three.

But that’s not the way this was done so let’s look at how the Redskins’ top two corners, Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland, stack up against Taylor’s top picks.

Norman, a first-team All-Pro in 2015, playing opposite a replacement-level cornerback likely would qualify the Redskins’ corners for a spot in the top half of the league. Breeland is still learning. According to Pro Football Focus, quarterbacks throwing at him had a 93.1 passer rating. That’s better than the league average rating of 88.4. You have to be careful putting too fine a point on PFF’s numbers like this but it’s still safe to say that he’s somewhere around average in that department. And Breeland had just two interceptions last year, the same number he had as a rookie.

Those of us who follow the Redskins closely see a player on the rise. I don’t think that Breeland is quite there yet and in the eyes of the rest of the league he still has a lot to prove.

Then again, the numbers don’t show that Jenkins, who was lured from the Rams to the Giants with a mega free agent contract, is all that much better than Breeland. Quarterbacks threw for a 93.8 passer rating against him and he has five interceptions in the last two years. If you want to give Jenkins a bit of an edge because he has been around for two years longer and has made more big plays (six career return TDs) that’s fine but it’s not like Jenkins is miles ahead of Breeland.

And you would have to say that Norman is a cut above Rodgers-Cromartie based on All-Pro honors and a markedly better pass rating against him (Norman 58.1, DRC 67.2). Somehow, DRC made the Pro Bowl last year despite the fact that the Giants had the worst-ranked pass defense in the NFL (yes, they even ranked lower than the Saints).

So without putting every CB duo in the NFL under the microscope I think it’s safe to say that if the Giants have a top five pair of cornerbacks the Redskins have a tandem somewhere in the top 10.

In July, a top-10 pair of corners plus $2.60 will get me my afternoon venti coffee at Starbucks. But with the addition of Norman and the continued development of Breeland they should be able to improve their pass defense, which ranked 26th in yards allowed.

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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.