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Chiefs fire Crennel, restructure organization

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Chiefs fire Crennel, restructure organization

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Kansas City Chiefs are doing more than looking for a new coach after firing Romeo Crennel on Monday. They're changing the entire structure of the organization.

Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said in an interview with The Associated Press that he will hire the next head coach and that person will report directly to him. That's a departure from the previous 53 years in Kansas City, where the head coach had always reported to the general manager.

``The reason for it is I think it gives us the best chance of hiring the most outstanding coach,'' said Hunt, who had already begun working the phones to find Crennel's replacement.

Hunt relieved the 65-year-old Crennel of his duties after a 38-3 loss to Denver on Sunday that finished off a 2-14 season, tied for the worst in franchise history. But he has not made a decision on the future of GM Scott Pioli, whose job has hung in the balance for weeks.

``I don't have a timeline laid out on that,'' Hunt said. ``Obviously the beginning of February, there are a lot of important events related to the upcoming draft, the combine and so forth, and we want to be solidified in that regard before that.''

The Chiefs will have the No. 1 pick for the first time since joining the NFL.

The Chiefs' only victories this season were against New Orleans and Carolina, the latter coming one day after linebacker Jovan Belcher shot his girlfriend to death and then drove to the team's practice facility and turned the gun on himself as Crennel and Pioli looked on.

Crennel seemed to know the end was coming Sunday night when he was asked to defend his job and said, ``If your criteria is wins and losses, there's not much defense.''

``The NFL is a performance-based league, and we weren't able to win,'' Crennel said in a statement Monday. ``As for my future, I'm planning to take some time to reflect on this season, evaluate everything, and make a decision based on what's right for myself and my family.''

The only other time the Chiefs finished 2-14 was 2008, the year before Pioli was hired. They were 2-12 in 1977, the only other time they've failed to win at least three games.

``It's a tough day, but I can't say I didn't see it coming,'' said right tackle Eric Winston, among several players cleaning out their lockers Monday.

With five players voted to the Pro Bowl last week, there are certainly pieces in place for the Chiefs to make rapid improvement. But four of them were inherited by Pioli's regime, and that haul of Pro Bowl players may have been Crennel's biggest indictment.

``You always want to be able to give a head coach as long as you can to build a program. I just felt we really were not headed in the right direction,'' Hunt said. ``The Pro Bowl balloting tells us a little about what coaches and players around the league think about the roster, that there's some very talented players. But at the same time, we all know there are holes.''

The biggest hole is at quarterback, where the Chiefs benched Matt Cassel and his $63 million contract in favor of Brady Quinn, who struggled all year and is now a free agent.

The Chiefs' inept offense managed 18 touchdowns in 16 games, finished minus-24 in turnover margin and lost nine times by two touchdowns or more. Along the way, they broke an 83-year-old NFL record by not holding a lead in regulation until their ninth game.

``It has been by far the hardest year I've ever had as a professional,'' Hunt said. ``I was miserable throughout the season, just in terms of what I was seeing. It was so hard on me because I want the team to succeed, not only for everyone in this building but most importantly for our fans. It just killed me that we weren't competitive. I hated it.''

Crennel, whose career record as a head coach is 28-55, was hired in 2010 as defensive coordinator. Respected by his players, he was appointed interim coach last December when Pioli fired Todd Haley with three games left in the season.

Crennel immediately brought a sense of stability to a floundering franchise, defeating the previously unbeaten Green Bay Packers and winning at Denver in the season finale.

With the support of the players, Pioli made Crennel the permanent coach a few weeks later, giving him another opportunity as a head coach after four failed seasons in Cleveland.

This season was a disappointment from the start, too. The Chiefs were blown out by the Falcons in their opener, trounced by the Bills and later lost eight consecutive games.

Empty seats began to multiply at Arrowhead Stadium, once one of the NFL's most intimidating venues. An organized fan rebellion paid for banners to be towed behind airplanes asking for Pioli to be fired, and the majority of fans dressed in black for a home game against Cincinnati.

Nothing Crennel did seemed to work, either.

He fired himself as the defensive coordinator and turned those duties over to linebackers coach Gary Gibbs. He shuffled his quarterbacks, changed inspirational posters outside the locker room and even tinkered with the way practice was run.

But injuries were numerous, turnovers plentiful and penalties crippling as blown assignments became the hallmark of a team that was rarely competitive in games.

Then came the morning of Dec. 1, when tragedy struck.

Belcher, a part-time starter, shot the mother of his 3-month-old daughter, Kasandra Perkins, multiple times at a home not far from Arrowhead Stadium. The linebacker then sped to the team's practice facility and was confronted by Pioli, who tried to talk him out of more violence.

After thanking Pioli and Crennel for his chance in the NFL, Belcher shot himself in the head.

The Chiefs played the following day against Carolina, and Crennel was praised for the way he stoically led a team in turmoil. Kansas City put together its best performance in a 27-21 victory.

It wound up being their last win. The Chiefs were blown out by Cleveland, shut out by Oakland and beaten by the Colts before an embarrassing finale against the Broncos.

That was enough to finish Crennel, and enough to put Pioli's future in jeopardy.

``I kept looking for the team to improve, to show signs that we were turning the corner,'' Hunt said, ``and we just never got there.''

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Capitals' victory celebration halted as a win suddenly turns into a loss

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Capitals' victory celebration halted as a win suddenly turns into a loss

WASHINGTON — The Capitals bounced up and down in celebration. They yelled. They screamed. They lost. 

Call it the win that wasn’t. Washington stole two points from the Arizona Coyotes on Monday night at Capital One Arena when T.J. Oshie scored in overtime. The up-and-down first two periods, all those big saves from Coyotes goalie Antti Raanta, a 3-0 deficit, all erased as the crowd roared and the players exalted. 

But old baseball writers have a term for what happened next: “Or so it seemed.” 

It’s the perfect phrase to describe a story that’s been written and now has to be deleted: You’re on deadline. One team is about to close out a win. Just waiting to hit send on the story. Then someone walks and then there’s a bloop hit and, oh my god did the third baseman just throw the ball into left field? Suddenly what seemed certain no longer is. Time to rewrite. 

That’s where the Capitals were when Oshie’s apparent game-winner was overturned on replay. Teammate Lars Eller had actually slipped and entered the offensive zone too soon. The play was deemed offside. 

“A bit of a buzzkill there,” Capitals forward Tom Wilson said. 

Somewhere, a guy sprinted from his seat after Oshie’s goal and was halfway to the Metro before they announced the goal didn’t count. Hopefully he finds out what happened. If not, then he’s going to be confused when the ticker says it was a 4-3 shootout loss. 

“Like coming back from the dead,” said Arizona coach Rick Tocchet.

Dmitry Orlov knocked Coyotes winger Clayton Keller off the puck a little over two minutes into 3-on-3 overtime. Orlov found Oshie streaking toward the middle of the ice, he gave it to Eller, who lost his balance, but pulled up inside the blueline when the linesman ruled he was onside and passed to Oshie.

 Arizona defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, one of the NHL’s best skaters, had no chance after an Oshie head fake. Neither did Raanta. Oshie went down to one knee in the slot and ripped the shot home. The crowd exploded. The Capitals poured off the bench to celebrate. The Coyotes skated off the ice. Washington had won. 

Or so it seemed. The Coyotes coaching staff started looking at the play on the tablets kept on the bench. Players started pointing up at the scoreboard, which was replaying the goal. Then the officials made their way over to the scorers’ box and referee Jake Brenk held out his hand. Linesman Darren Gibbs put the headset on to talk with the video review officials in Toronto. The Capitals figured their work might not be done.  

After a review that took almost four minutes, officials in Toronto decided Eller really was offsides. Halt the celebration. The game wasn’t over yet. It would be only after Arizona won in the shootout. The Capitals would settle for one hard-earned point, instead of two and that was probably a just result.    

“That was unfortunate, because it was a great move and it's a goal. But T.J. is pretty on top of things,” Capitals coach Todd Reirden said. “He had a strong feeling it was gonna be offside."

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Brandon Scherff could very well ask for a contract that tops the one Brandon Brooks just signed

Brandon Scherff could very well ask for a contract that tops the one Brandon Brooks just signed

On Monday, one Brandon in the NFL signed a deal that another Brandon in the NFL absolutely noticed.

The first Brandon is Brandon Brooks, a guard whom the Eagles gave a four-year contract extension worth just more than $56 million that'll kick in starting in 2021. His current agreement with Philadelphia runs until 2020 and carries remaining base salaries of $8 million and $7.5 million.

The second Brandon is Brandon Scherff, also a guard and one who's scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in a few months. If Scherff truly gets a chance to negotiate with the Redskins or on the open market, he'll likely look for something very close to or even exceeding the numbers Brooks got from Philly.

Brooks' extension has a $14.05 million annual value, which slots just ahead of the Cowboys' Zach Martin when it comes to the highest-paid guards in the sport. Scherff absolutely deserves to ink something that puts him right next to those players, if not ahead of Brooks and all others at the position.

One thing that works in No. 75's favor is his age. Scherff is about to turn 28 years old. Brooks, meanwhile, is already 30. Washington's lineman should have plenty of productive campaigns in his future, wherever that future is. 

Another interesting similarity between Brooks and Scherff is their durability. Both have have returned from a significant injury they suffered in 2018 — Scherff tore his pectoral, while Brooks tore his Achilles — that look like outliers in otherwise reliable careers.  

Scherff is certainly in the same realm when it comes to talent and production as Brooks, too. They've each earned two Pro Bowl nods, and while Brooks may be thought of as the best guard in the league, Scherff isn't far behind.

Plus, as anyone who's followed NFL contracts this decade knows, it often doesn't really matter if the next elite guy to sign is truly better, it just matters that he's elite and he's next to sign.

Those are all factors Scherff could point to when it's time for him to cash in. When will that time come, though?

The Burgundy and Gold, who reportedly offered Scherff an extension worth $13 million a year this past September that didn't really do much for the 2015 first-rounder, could franchise tag him if they want. That move, of course, would be profitable for Scherff but limit his ability to negotiate. 

Now, whether the Redskins go that route or give him something more stable, it's hard to imagine them letting him get away. Trent Williams will very likely never suit up for Washington again, and having to roll out an offensive line in 2020 without Williams and Scherff would be a very unfortunate situation.

Scherff, however, will likely make the organization pay up to ensure that doesn't happen. He said in October he hopes to be a Redskin until he retires, but it doesn't appear he'll do that on a discount. With the way he's played and how his peers are being compensated, he shouldn't have to, either.

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