Wizards

Chiefs waiting to hit bottom during 7-game skid

201211181534560707060-p2.jpeg

Chiefs waiting to hit bottom during 7-game skid

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel laid out for his team Monday exactly what it will take to end their seven-game losing streak, then questioned whether the solution is even possible.

``We know we have to fight. We have to do everything in our power to be the best we can be, to be perfect,'' he said during a break in meetings. ``That's what I told them, we have to be perfect because that's the only way we have a chance.''

Later, Crennel admitted, ``Nobody is ever perfect, you know.''

That doesn't bode well for a team trying to reach mediocrity, much less perfection.

The Chiefs' 28-6 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday dropped them to 1-9 on the season, their lone victory requiring a franchise-record 18-point comeback at New Orleans.

They've been ravaged by injuries, lead the league in turnovers, can't settle on a quarterback and are now dealing with a full-fledged fan rebellion, which has resulted in people dressed in black occupying the seats at Arrowhead Stadium, and fliers calling for the general manager's job.

The Twitter account for a fan group known as ``Save Our Chiefs'' recently surpassed 80,000 followers, about 17,000 more than the announced crowd on Sunday and probably twice as many as actually found their way inside the stadium during another disheartening loss.

``We love Kansas City. We're not upset at our fans,'' linebacker Andy Studebaker said. ``They have a right to be upset. In the NFL, you have to create a home-field advantage. It doesn't just show up for you. It's a two-way street with us and the fans.''

Things certainly won't get any easier for Kansas City with Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos visiting Sunday. After that comes a home date with Carolina that could help determine who has the overall No. 1 pick in the NFL draft next year.

Jacksonville is the only other team sitting at 1-9, while Carolina and Cleveland are 2-8. The Chiefs visit the Browns on Dec. 9.

``We understand the fan frustration,'' cornerback Brandon Flowers said. ``This is the team they love, and they love watching, and they ain't winning. Who wouldn't be upset?''

Crennel said he hasn't decided who will start at quarterback against the Broncos after lifting starter Matt Cassel for Brady Quinn at halftime of Sunday's loss to Cincinnati.

Cassel was the starter early in the season before sustaining a concussion against Baltimore, and then lost his job when he was cleared to return. Quinn was knocked out with his own concussion in his second start, and wasn't cleared to play until late last week.

That's why Cassel got the starting nod and Quinn was brought on in relief.

Things aren't much more settled on the injury front, where wide receivers Jon Baldwin and Dwayne Bowe are both dealing with head and neck injuries. It's uncertain either will be available this week, though Crennel sounded optimistic they will be cleared to play.

The offensive line also remains in flux.

Right guard Jon Asamoah is being fitted for a cast after having surgery on his thumb, and he could be back after missing a game. Left tackle Branden Albert has been dealing with back spasms, and center Ryan Lilja has an ankle injury that kept him out of Sunday's game.

``It's tough,'' right tackle Eric Winston said. ``My rookie year (with Houston), we were 6-10, and that was tough. To be honest with you, I don't know if we were even good enough to win that many games. But that was a different team. It was a young team, a ton of rookies playing, a new regime kind of thing. I've never been around something like this, to tell you the truth.''

The Chiefs have only led twice in a game this season, and they've been outscored 185-84 during their seven-game slide. They converted just one third down against Cincinnati, two fewer than the Bengals converted on fourth down, and were fortunate to only lose one of their three fumbles.

Things have been so bad this season that Crennel fired himself as defensive coordinator.

Now, he's wondering whether there are any other strings he can pull to engender change in a franchise floundering hopelessly out of control, or whether the best he can hope for is to be competitive enough down the stretch that he still has a job come January.

``It's all about the mentality that the players have, because when you lose, nobody is happy about losing,'' Crennel said. ``Everybody is frustrated about losing, you know? Players, coaches, fans, owners, everybody. What we want and what we need is to try to win a game to make us feel better, give us a little confidence, and then if you win one, maybe we can win another.''

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

How the Wizards have taken Raptors big man Serge Ibaka out of the series on offense

How the Wizards have taken Raptors big man Serge Ibaka out of the series on offense

The Wizards-Raptors first round playoff series has evolved to feature the emergence of several players who started off slowly including Bradley Beal, Marcin Gortat and Kelly Oubre, Jr. The opposite has happened for Toronto big man Serge Ibaka.

After Ibaka lit up the Wizards for 23 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks in Game 1, there has been a disappearance. His scoring has gone missing and it's a big reason why the Wizards have won two straight games and earned a 2-2 series split.

Head coach Scott Brooks knows Ibaka well from their days in Oklahoma City. He helped develop Ibaka and has since watched from afar as his game has changed to include a consistent outside game.

Brooks has on several occasions referred to Ibaka as one of the best three-point shooting big men in the league. The numbers back that up. Last season, he shot 39.1 percent from three on 4.0 attempts per game, excellent for a 6-foot-10 power forward.

This season that number dipped to 36 percent, but he hit 41 percent of his threes in his final 16 games of the regular season. That carried over into the playoffs when he went 3-for-4 in Game 1 as part of an 8-for-11 shooting night overall.

The Wizards made a point to take away those outside shots following their series-opening defeat. The way they are doing that is by crowding him when he gets the ball, even if it means him getting past the initial defender.

"You want to make sure you meet him on the catch. You want to take away his shot," Brooks said. "When he gets open shots, they are money. He's going to knock them down... We did a good job of meeting him on his catch and making him put the ball on the floor with his left hand. You can live with the results."

After his 23-point outburst in Game 1, Ibaka has scored just 20 points total in the last three games. He has gone 2-for-6 from three.

The Wizards are taking away his shot attempts in general. He took 11 shots in each of the first two games of this series, but just four in Game 3 and five in Game 4. In Game 3 he had three points and three turnovers and on Sunday he had seven points and four turnovers.

Here are two examples of the Wizards' defense on Ibaka. On this first play, Markieff Morris meets Ibaka as soon as he catches the ball and the result is a turnover:

On this next play, Morris follows Ibaka all the way to the rim and even though he goes up on a pump fake, Morris recovers to alter Ibaka's shot and force a miss:

The Wizards, however, did get away with one against Ibaka. He was left wide open for a three in the final minute, but the shot rimmed out:

As the first two plays demonstrate, Morris deserves a lot of credit for the Wizards' success against Ibaka. He has the size and mobility to keep up with him and is willing to use contact to his advantage.

"Just playing the tendencies," Morris said. "We're making them do things they are uncomfortable with and are getting better results."

Ibaka was fourth on the Raptors this season in points per game and third in shot attempts. He is their third option behind All-Star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. If the Wizards can continue to lock up Ibaka, it will be difficult for the Raptors to beat them.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

OUBRE IS HELPING THE WIZARDS WIN IN MANY WAYS

WALL WAS DUNKING ALL OVER RAPTORS BIG MEN

MUST-SEE MOMENTS FROM GAME 4 WIN

Quick Links

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Death Row D.C. and the Wizards are back

usatsi_10801687.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Death Row D.C. and the Wizards are back

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes and Chris Miller were joined by Julie Donaldson to break down the Wizards' wins in Games 3 and 4.

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Marcin Gortat are back and the Wizards are a different team because of it. Plus, how regaining their Death Row D.C. mentality has changed this series.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!