Redskins

Chiefs CEO Hunt takes on bigger role in franchise

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Chiefs CEO Hunt takes on bigger role in franchise

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Clark Hunt is regarded as an intensely private man, someone who prefers to operate behind the scenes and away from the spotlight that comes with owning an NFL franchise.

In some ways, that's about to change.

Hunt fired coach Romeo Crennel on Monday as part of a shakeup of the entire structure of a franchise that his father, the late Lamar Hunt, founded 53 years ago. The younger Hunt said he plans to hire the next coach and that the individual will report to him, rather than through the general manager - a change in the way the team has operated since its inception.

In fact, Hunt has refused to say whether GM Scott Pioli will be retained.

``You know, historically, I've interacted with the general manager on everything that relates to the football team,'' Hunt told The Associated Press on Monday. ``I've had conversations with the head coach, but they're few and far between, in terms of really strategic stuff.''

Hunt said he anticipates having more discussions with the coach ``in terms of him telling me, `Hey, here's what we need to be successful.''

The list is long, but first comes finding a new coach for his team.

Hunt was expected to meet with Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and special teams coach Keith Armstrong this week, and there are surely more interviews in the near future.

All the usual names are expected to be on the wish list - former NFL coaches Jon Gruden, Andy Reid and Bill Cowher, college coaches such as Penn State's Bill O'Brien and Oregon's Chip Kelly, and top NFL assistants, including the Colts' Bruce Arians and the Broncos' Mike McCoy.

Hunt said he wouldn't target a coach who was necessarily ``offense or defense,'' but he did have a specific list of attributes that he seeks in Crennel's replacement.

``If I had to boil it down to a few things, I'd say a proven leader,'' Hunt said. ``Somebody who has demonstrated the ability to build a successful program, or been part of building a success program. Somebody of high integrity, somebody who is a successful teacher and communicator, who has a high football IQ but at the same time likes to roll up their sleeves and work hard - and somebody who likes to hold the team and themselves accountable.''

Identifying the qualities that make up the ideal coach is the easy part.

Identifying the coach who has them is more difficult.

Pioli was tasked with previous coaching hires after he replaced former general manager Carl Peterson in 2009. The former New England Patriots executive quickly fired Herm Edwards and hired Todd Haley, but their relationship was strained and Haley was dismissed last December.

Crennel was made interim coach and Pioli gave him the job permanently in January, only for the Chiefs to finish 2-14 this season, matching the worst record in franchise history.

So rather than allow Pioli to make his third coaching hire in five seasons, Hunt has decided to step in and assume greater responsibility for a franchise once considered among the NFL's most stable.

``It's hard for me to say I'm going to spend more time, because I already spend a whole lot of time. It's just not visible time spent standing on the football field, you know, watching practice or whatever,'' Hunt said. ``I spend a lot of time on it. It will be a different responsibility having the head coach report directly to me, though.''

Hunt recalled the era of Peterson and coach Marty Schottenheimer in the 1990s, when the Chiefs were playoff regulars. They were strong-willed personalities, but they managed to work well enough together that they helped the Chiefs to their most recent playoff wins in 1993.

``The GM and coach won't always have the same perspective,'' Hunt said. ``But they found a way to get to common ground and make decisions, and that will really be my role, finding the right path for the Chiefs and helping the guys make decisions together.''

Who those guys will be is the question of the hour, and only Hunt knows the answer.

He hasn't given a timetable for hiring a coach, though it's expected that he will act quickly. Hunt would prefer the new coach to be in place before making a decision on the future of Pioli, and he said that decision would need to come by the first part of February.

Hunt said he's already fielded several inquiries for the head coaching job, and indicated that he has retained multiple people in an advisory role to assist in the search.

``I'm not going to go into the dynamics of the search process,'' he said, ``but I will say I have the appropriate resources available to help me in that process. We're very well organized. We want to be thorough but we want to be efficient as well.''

Hunt understands the magnitude of the decision he is facing.

Only a handful of franchises have more history or a richer tradition than the Chiefs, and even though the team has floundered in recent years, there are also opportunities.

The Chiefs hold the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft for the first time. They had five players voted to the Pro Bowl, and two more chosen as alternates. They have plenty of salary cap space to make a splash in free agency, allowing them to start filling in the holes.

``Overall, the job is still attractive,'' Hunt said. ``Clearly we need to get better at the quarterback position. That's no secret. But the franchise remains very well respected around the league. In talking to people, including those who I've spoken to (Monday), there's a keen interest in at least seeing what the opportunity is here.''

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Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense

Need to Know: Post-minicamp Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, June 19, 37 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Redskins 53-man roster projection—Defense 

It may still be early to project the roster, but things are coming into focus after the round of practices in helmets and shorts. Here is my look at who I think will make it on defense; the offense was posted yesterday.

Defensive line (7)
Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, Anthony Lanier, Stacy McGee, Tim Settle, Ziggy Hood

I don’t think that McGee’s groin injury will be an issue, but it seemed that Jay Gruden was very tight-lipped about the whole thing, so we will have to wait until training camp starts. This is one more than they normally carry here and Hood’s presence on the roster could be in danger if injuries force the team to carry more players at another position. 

Outside linebacker (4)
Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Ryan Anderson, Pernell McPhee

Anderson is certain to make the roster, but he was mostly invisible during the offseason practices that were open to the media. The spotlight will be on last year’s second-round pick in training camp. After a zero-sack rookie season, Anderson will be under pressure to produce this season. 

Inside linebacker (5)
Zach Brown, Mason Foster, Zach Vigil, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Shaun Dion Hamilton

The player I have on the wrong side of the bubble here is Martrell Spaight. If he does work his way on, the spot most in jeopardy is Vigil’s. Harvey-Clemons got a lot of reps with the first team in OTAs and the team thinks he can help in nickel situations and perhaps more. And Gruden called Hamilton a potential future starter. So the two younger players seem safe, leaving Vigil vulnerable.

Cornerback (6)
Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, Orlando Scandrick, Josh Holsey, Greg Stroman

As is the case with the running backs that I looked at yesterday, this group seems to be pretty well set. It’s not that it’s an exceptionally strong group, but there isn’t a lot of real competition. Behind these six are three undrafted free agents and while Danny Johnson, Kenny Ladler, and Ranthony Texada all have had flashes in the offseason practices they are extreme long shots to make the roster at this point. 

Safety (4)
D.J. Swearinger, Montae Nicholson, Deshazor Everett, Troy Apke

If there are concerns about Nicholson’s health—to be clear, as of now there are none—Fish Smithson could make it as a fifth safety. 

Specialists (3)
K Dustin Hopkins, P Tress Way, LS Nick Sundberg

It looks like the Redskins will have the same trio of specialists for the fourth straight year. I will look it up at some point but for now, I’ll say that it’s been a while since they had such stability here. 


Defensive players: 26
Rookies (5): 
Payne, Settle, Hamilton, Stroman, Apke
New to the Redskins in 2018 (7): Rookies plus McPhee, Scandrick
Not on 2017 Week 1 roster (13): Rookies plus new players plus Vigil (released in the final cut, re-signed later in the season). 

On the 53-man roster:

24 offense, 26 defense, 3 specialists
Rookies: 8
New to the Redskins in 2017: 12
Not on 2017 Week 1 roster: 16

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 37
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 51
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 74

The Redskins last played a game 168 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 82 days. 

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5 things you should know about new Nationals pitcher Kelvin Herrera

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USA TODAY Sports

5 things you should know about new Nationals pitcher Kelvin Herrera

The Nationals traded for Royals' pitcher Kelvin Herrera this evening. 

Not only did the Nationals trade for Kelvin Herrera, but they did so without losing Juan Soto, Victor Robles, or Andrew Stevenson. The first two were never in any real danger of being traded for a relief pitcher who will be a free agent at year's end, but the Nats escaped only giving up their 10th and 11th ranked prospects:

On the surface, this deal looks exceptional for the Nationals. Herrera is another back-of-the-bullpen type that only further deepens the Nats' options in that department. Here are a handful of things you should know about the Nationals' newest pitcher:

1. Herrera's strikeout "issue" is complicated 

Herrera, like many other closers over the last half-decade, has made his name in strikeouts. He topped out at a 30.4 percent strikeout rate in 2016, and has a 23.4 percent clip for his career. His K% this season sits at 23.2 percent, which is both higher than last season and lower than his career average. 

People will look at his dramatic K/9 drop as a red flag, but "per/9" stats are flawed and not generally a worthwhile stat to build an argument around. A pitcher who gets knocked around for five runs in an inning -- but gets three strikeouts -- can have the same K/9 of a different (much more efficient) pitcher who strikes out the side in order. 

2. Herrera has basically stopped walking batters 

His career BB% sits at 7.1 percent. His highest clip is nine percent (2014, 2015) and his lowest was a shade over four percent (2016). 

This season, he's walking batters at a two percent  rate. In 27 games this season, he's walked two batters. Two! 

3. The jury seems to still be out on how good of a year he's had so far

Analytics are frustrating. On one hand, they can serve wonderfully as tools to help peel back the curtains and tell a deeper story - or dispel lazy narratives. On the other hand, they can be contradictory, confusing, and at times downright misleading. 

Take, for instance, Herrera's baseline pitching stats. His ERA sits at 1.05, while his FIP sits at 2.62. On their own, both numbers are impressive. On their own, both numbers are All-Star level stats. 

When you stack them against each other, however, the picture turns negative. While ERA is the more common stat, it's widely accepted that FIP more accurately represents a pitcher's true value (ERA's calculation makes the same per/9 mistakes that were mentioned above). 

More often than not, when a pitcher's ERA is lower than his FIP, that indicates said pitcher has benefited from luck. 

Throw in a 3.51 xFIP (which is the same as FIP, but park-adjusted) and we suddenly have a real mess on our hands. Is he the pitcher with the great ERA, the pitcher with the Very Good FIP, or the pitcher with the medicore xFIP? 

4. He was a fastball pitcher, and then he wasn't, and now he is again

Take a look at Herrera's pitch usage over his career in Kansas City:

In only three years, he's gone from throwing a sinker 31 percent of the time to completely giving up on the pitch. That's pretty wild. 

Since 2014, he's gone to the slider more and more in every year. 

His current fastball usage would be the highest of his career. He only appeared in two games during the 2011 season, so those numbers aren't reliable. Going away from the sinker probably helps explain why his Ground Ball rate has dropped 10 percentage points, too. 

5. The Nats finally have the bullpen they've been dreaming about for years

Doolittle, Herrera, Kintzler, and Madson is about as deep and talented as any bullpen in baseball.

Justin Miller, Sammy Solis, and Wander Suero all have flashed serious potential at points throughout the year. Austin Voth is waiting for roster expansion in September. 

The Nats have been trying to build this type of bullpen for the better part of the last decade. Health obviously remains an important factor, but Rizzo's got the deepest pen of his time in D.C. 

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