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Need to Know: Will RG3 benefit from an improved Redskins O-line?

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Need to Know: Will RG3 benefit from an improved Redskins O-line?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, June 30, 30 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.

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’ll also take your Need to Know questions via email. Hit me up rich.tandler+csn@gmail.com with “NTK” in the subject line. Just keep them relatively brief, please. 

https://twitter.com/Smoke1300/status/614105719839817728

Let’s look at this from a couple of angles here. First, will the line be better? Certainly, it will be different with Spencer Long moving in at right guard in place of the departed Chris Chester, top draft pick Brandon Scherff moving in at right guard with Tom Compton being pushed aside and Bill Callahan taking over the coaching duties.

But will different necessarily be better? Chester was cut for a number of reasons, his age (32) and salary cap number ($4.8 million) chief among them. He wasn’t cut because he’s a horrible player. Pro Football Focus rated him 15th among front-line starting right guards last year. That’s not great but it is not awful either; it's the definition of replacement level or average. Long was given every opportunity to push Chester aside last year and he couldn’t do it. The hope is that Long will be better over time and he’ll certainly be cheaper. But there is no guarantee that Long will be better in 2015 than Chester was in 2014.

Scherff is likely to be an upgrade over Compton, who was in the lower part of PFF’s ranking, right off the bat. But Jay Gruden certainly doesn’t expect him to be perfect when it comes to pass blocking. The No. 5 overall draft pick is “going to get beat a couple times by some top-level pass rushers,” Gruden said during minicamp. It seems as though Griffin can expect some pressure from the right side.

Callahan has an excellent reputation as an offensive line coach. But so did the man he replaced, Chris Foerster. It may be that Callahan can get more out of the unit but it’s not like he’s replacing some sort of a hack.

And there are potential issues with the holdovers. Trent Williams played on one leg for a good chunk of last season and missed a game and a half, Kory Lichtensteiger has to adjust to executing power blocks at 296 lb. and Shawn Lauvao was second on the team with 20 QB hurries given up.

I’m intentionally focusing on the negative here to make the point that it’s not a given that the Redskins will field a better O-line this year. But if things fall into place, they could be a pretty good line, especially as the season goes on and Scherff and Long get more snaps under their belts. If they do develop into the unit many fans hope they can be, can Griffin take advantage of it?

That remains to be seen. It won’t help much if he holds on to the ball too long like he did at times last year. Last year he dropped back to pass 247 times and was sacked 33 times (13.4 percent). Playing behind the same line Kirk Cousins had 212 dropbacks and was sacked eight times (3.8 percent). All of Griffin’s issues were not traceable to a shaky offensive line.

If the line is indeed better then that should help Griffin. But even if it does materialize, improved protection will not be a cure for all that ails his game.

Timeline

—It’s been 184 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 75 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 30; Preseason opener @ Browns 44; final cuts 67

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.