Chiefs' Crennel focused on finishing trying year


Chiefs' Crennel focused on finishing trying year

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The only person who seems to be at ease with the question about Romeo Crennel's future with the Chiefs is the man who is being asked to answer it.

He's a coach who has only managed to coax two wins out of a team predicted to compete for the AFC West title. He's a guy respected and beloved in the locker room but who appears lost on the sideline, and who has had just one winning season in five years as an NFL head coach.

But he's also a man who witnessed one of his own players commit suicide after committing murder, and then served as the face of a franchise in mourning. He's a man who shelved his own emotions to provide unwavering leadership when the team walked into Arrowhead Stadium one day later and beat Carolina for one of those two victories.

``We're in this business to win, because that's how it's kind of counted, by your win-loss record,'' Crennel said this week, when asked about his future in Kansas City.

``When you're not able to win,'' he said, ``you always wonder about yourself: What do I need to do more? What haven't I done? And those kinds of things.''

Nobody knows exactly how hot Crennel's seat is in Kansas City, though.

Not even Crennel himself.

For one thing, general manager Scott Pioli's job also appears on the line after a season marked by on-the-field misery and off-the-field atrocities. An unprecedented fan rebellion has been calling for his job for weeks, and it's possible that the man who elevated Crennel from interim head coach to the full-time job last season may not be around long, either.

Pioli hasn't spoken publicly since the Chiefs' bye midway through the season, when he said that Crennel had his support. Pioli was with Crennel when linebacker Jovan Belcher took his own life outside the team's practice facility, adding another layer of complexity to the decisions that will soon be facing Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt.

Then there's the fact that Crennel simply won't spend time pondering his fate.

He's been a coach for more than four decades, progressing through the college ranks to the NFL, where he helped to win five Super Bowls as an assistant. He understands as well as anybody how tenuous life is in professional sports, and that next season is never guaranteed.

``The future is the next game,'' Crennel said. ``So that's the one I'm concentrating on and seeing what I can do to try to win the game. If we win the game, we'll see what happens down the road. The only control I have is trying to win a game.''

It's certainly an important game for reasons beyond the fate of the Chiefs' coach.

Indianapolis visits Kansas City on Sunday with a chance to wrap up an improbable playoff berth, something that few dreamed possible when they lost their first 13 games last season.

If nothing else, the rapid way the Colts have turned around their franchise should be heartening for the Chiefs, who are headed for one of the worst finishes in team history.

The question becomes who will be in charge of orchestrating that turnaround.

``This is a business, so you can't worry about that,'' said linebacker Derrick Johnson, who is on his fourth coach in eight years in the league. ``When you're having a losing season, everybody's job is in jeopardy, players and coaches. That's just the way it is, the nature of the beast.''

Crennel certainly graded out highly among players and fans when he took over for the fired Todd Haley last season, and then guided the Chiefs to a victory over then-unbeaten Green Bay and a season-ending road win against the Broncos.

Afterward, players chanted his name in the locker room, and many of them openly campaigned for the former Cleveland Browns coach to get the job on a permanent basis.

``That's the most disappointing part of this year, one of them, is not getting the results the way we feel for Romeo,'' Johnson said. ``We love Romeo. We were screaming for him after the season to be our coach, and for our season to turn out the way it did, it's disappointing.''

Crennel has tried just about everything to engender change within the team.

He benched incumbent starter Matt Cassel for quarterback Brady Quinn. He fired himself as defensive coordinator and appointed Gary Gibbs to the same role. He's even had a hand in the inspirational signs that are posted outside the Chiefs' locker room.

Nothing has worked, though, and now his job is in jeopardy.

``When you try different things and you still don't win, it kind of wears on you a little bit,'' Crennel said. ``You know you're going to play on Sunday, so you have to put that best foot forward and try to get that win, because that's the best thing that will make you feel better about yourself and about what you're trying to get done.''


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Need to Know: Looking ahead—Key Redskins 2019 free agents

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Need to Know: Looking ahead—Key Redskins 2019 free agents

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, March 18, 39 days before the NFL draft.  

Looking at next year’s free agents

There is still work that the Redskins can do in free agency and they still have some of their own players they want to retain. But with a lot of the player movement already in the books, we can take a look forward some of the key Redskin who currently are set to be free agents when the 2019 league year opens.

Note: I’m not including Brandon Scherff here because the team has a fifth-year option on him that they surely will activate before the May 2 deadline.

QB Colt McCoy (Week 1 age 32)—Lots of questions here. Will the Redskins want to keep him around for another year as Alex Smith’s backup? Or will they want a younger and cheaper backup? Will McCoy want to move on rather than back up another QB who doesn’t miss many games?

OL Ty Nsekhe (32)—The Redskins gave him a second-round restricted free agent tender this year so it’s possible that he could be gone or on a long-term contract in Washington. If he is a free agent, his value and the difficulty of retaining him could depend on if he ends the season as a reserve tackle (easy) or as a starting guard (hard).

OLB Preston Smith (25)—As we saw with Trent Murphy (three years, $21 million with up to $30 million), pass rushers get paid. Smith also makes big plays. Since Smith came into the NFL, he is the only player with at least 20 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles. If the Redskins can’t reach a deal on an extension with him this year the franchise tag is a distinct possibility.

WR Jamison Crowder (25)—This year the supply of quality receivers both as free agents and in the draft sent contract prices skyrocketing. To guard against that happening next year, the Redskin should start talking to Crowder about an extension soon.

ILB Zach Vigil (27)—As I noted here, Vigil went from being cut in September to a very valuable reserve in November. Both Zach Brown and Mason Foster will still be under contract, but the Redskin still should make an effort to retain Vigil for special teams and as a capable backup.

Other Redskins who are slated to be UFA’s next year are DL Ziggy Hood and ILB Martrell Spaight.

It’s also worth noting that WR Maurice Harris and DE Anthony Lanier will both be restricted free agents next year. Both positions were pricey in free agency this year, so both could require at least second-round tenders, which likely will increase to about $3 million in 2019.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Regarding the reported visit of defensive lineman Jonathan Hankins with the Redskins:


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 29
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 131
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 175

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Game 72 Capitals at Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 72 Capitals at Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pa.

When: 5:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Flyers will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Flyers game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.


The Capitals (41-23-7) take on the Flyers (36-25-11) Sunday, March 18 at 5:00 p.m. ET in Philadelphia.


The Capitals-Flyers game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

4:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
4:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
5:00 p.m. — Capitals at Flyers
7:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
8:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
9:00 p.m. — Caps in 30


The Capitals-Flyers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.