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Redskins Griffin among NFL's most influential but should he be?

Redskins Griffin among NFL's most influential but should he be?

It’s the time of the year for rankings and we’ve seen how one analyst ranks Robert Griffin III among the 32 NFL starting quarterbacks (spoiler: it couldn’t be much worse). But because Griffin has been so good and so bad during his brief NFL career, he is among the most influential players in the NFL, according to the same website that ranked him poorly among the starting QB’s.

The list is the MMQB 100, compiled by Peter King and his staff. The introduction to the list doesn’t give a firm definition of “influential” but it does say that they are emphasizing influence on the field over off-field concerns. Therefore Tom Brady is No. 1 while commissioner Rodger Goodell is No. 2. The list is a mix of players, coaches, front office types, league executives, and others around the game.

Griffin checks in at No. 28 on the list, just ahead of NFL vice president Eric Grubman and just behind Saints QB Drew Brees. In explaining the ranking, Andy Benoit (yes, the same writer that did the QB ranking, says that it wouldn’t be a stretch to consider the Redskins offense to be “loaded”. He notes the upgrade on the offensive line with Brandon Scherff, quality at running back in Alfred Morris and intriguing rookie Matt Jones, and top-shelf pass catchers in DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon, and, if healthy, Jordan Reed. How productive they are will likely come down to the effectiveness of the guy pulling the trigger.

“The only real question is at quarterback,” writes Beniot. “Robert Griffin III is so badly lagging in his mechanics and understanding of defenses that the question isn’t how well Griffin will fare, but rather whether or not he’ll retain his starting job at all. If Griffin doesn’t keep the job this season, his once-promising career could be headed down the Tarvaris Jackson track, making coaches and GMs rethink the proposition of drafting a run-oriented quarterback.”

First, although it’s slightly off topic, let me address the Jackson comparison. Jackson never had a season remotely resembling Griffin’s 2012 season. In fact, Jackson’s career numbers in completion percentage, interception percentage, passer rating, and average net yards per attempt are worse than Griffin’s were last year, a performance that has everyone wondering about his future. So comparing Jackson to Griffin is not very credible.

Back to the topic at hand, Griffin could be highly influential in the team’s success but it’s possible that the less influential he is the better off the team will be. It seems that the team used a lot of resources this offseason to making the team less reliant on the quarterback to win games. With considerable free agent dollars going to attempt to upgrade the defense and the efforts to improve the running game, it seems that the Redskins would like to be able to win games when the quarterback play is uneven.

No doubt, if the defense gets better, the running game improves, and Griffin reverts to something close to 2012 form, the Redskins could have a good season. That’s why he is No. 28 on the list. But no matter where you rank Griffin, I don’t think that he should rank ahead of another member of the Redskins organization who is not on the list at all.

That would be new general manager Scot McCloughan, the man responsible for the personnel moves and a draft that possibly added some solid pieces for the future. The defense clearly will have his stamp on it, with three of the four secondary starters coming in under his watch as well at two thirds on the defensive line. If the Redskins do turn it around, McCloughan will be the man most responsible.

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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.