Wizards

Chiefs have plenty of adversity, need more wins

Chiefs have plenty of adversity, need more wins

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Little has gone right for the Kansas City Chiefs this season.

There were blowout losses to start the season, injuries to key players and now the fan base has been cast into the mud by comments made by offensive tackle Eric Winston, alleging a small percentage of them cheered when quarterback Matt Cassel was hurt last week.

Sounds like a good time to hit the road.

The Chiefs visit Tampa Bay on Sunday in search of their second win of the season. They get a bye week after that before hosting Oakland, and then have two more games on the road.

That should give a team that's closed ranks behind Winston and backup quarterback Brady Quinn a chance to focus on itself, away from the suddenly volatile atmosphere of Arrowhead Stadium.

``If we win, you can say, `Yeah, it's a good thing,''' Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said, when asked whether going on the road amid such turmoil can be a positive thing for the team.

``If we lose, hey, it may not be the best thing,'' Crennel added quickly. ``This is a bottom-line business. When you win, things seem to be better. When you lose, they seem to be worse.''

Hard to believe things can get a whole lot worse.

The Chiefs are the runaway league leaders in turnovers through the first five weeks of the season. The defense is giving up more points than just about anybody, even after holding the Ravens to nine last week. The rush defense has been weak, the pass offense ineffective.

If not for a franchise-record, 18-point rally to beat New Orleans - another team in turmoil - in overtime, the Chiefs would be winless through the first five games of the season.

Then there's the trouble away from the field: Fans purchasing banners to fly over the stadium asking for the general manager to be fired, and Winston laying into those who cheered when Cassel was hurt, comments that quickly went viral and cast the organization in a negative light. Even team Chairman Clark Hunt rushed to the defense of the fans this week.

``I feel like we've stuck together pretty good,'' Winston said. ``I don't feel like this team has ever been fractured, even after we've gotten off to this rough start.''

Cassel was officially ruled out against Tampa Bay on Thursday, which means Quinn will make his first NFL start since the 2009 season, when he was still with the Cleveland Browns.

Perhaps having a new set of hands under center will give the team a much-needed lift.

Or perhaps getting out of town will do the trick.

``You could say there's desperation, but you have to handle it the right way,'' Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Johnson said. ``At 1-4, you need a win. You need a win, you need one win. You can say desperation, but you can't panic. We have to handle it the right way.''

Whoever coined the phrase, ``Adversity brings out the best in people,'' certainly could use the Chiefs this week to tell whether there's any truth to the statement.

``I think adversity, what it does is pull a unit together,'' said Crennel, who is 27-44 as an NFL head coach. ``It doesn't make any difference who's watching or who's looking. The fact that there is adversity that can kind of pull a team together.''

Crennel said much of the adversity has been of the Chiefs' own construction.

They've committed 19 turnovers through their first five games, more than any other team at the same point in the season since the 1997 Saints. They've also committed 23 penalties over the past three weeks, including eight for 60 yards in last Sunday's loss to Baltimore.

One of the penalties was a pass interference call against wide receiver Dexter McCluster that wiped out what would have been the go-ahead touchdown pass to Dwayne Bowe in the fourth quarter.

Now, the Chiefs are in danger of being out of the playoff race by the middle of October.

Adversity? The Chiefs have plenty of it.

What they need more of is wins.

``I think a team comes together through all sorts of adversity, regardless of what it is,'' Quinn said this week, shortly after practicing for the first time with the starters. ``We're just trying to come together, eliminate turnovers and penalties and try to win a football game.''

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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

The pre-draft workout process can be an exhausting journey for players, with so many flights, hotel rooms and NBA arenas that they can all blend in together. Michigan big man Moritz Wagner, though, may have felt a sense of comfort in Washington for his pre-draft workout for the Wizards on Wednesday.

It was just over a year ago that his Michigan Wolverines cut down the nets at Capital One Arena as champions of the Big Ten conference.

"It was good memories, man. Never gets old," he said while glancing around the stadium.

Wagner, 21, will be seeing a lot more of Capital One Arena once he joins the NBA ranks and it is conceivable he ends up in Washington. They hold the 15th pick in the first round and the 44th pick in the second round and Wagner could be within their reach.

Wagner had an impressive workout in Washington and could provide what the Wizards need. He is a big, mobile and can spread the floor. Wagner was terrific at stepping out to hit threes off pick-and-rolls at Michigan and that ability would work well with Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall.

Wagner measured in at just under 7-feet at this month's NBA Combine, fifth-tallest among those who attended. He averaged 14.6 points as a junior this past season and made 39.4 percent of his threes on 4.1 attempts per game.

With three years of college experience and an NBA-ready jumper, Wagner believes he can step right in and help the Wizards.

"I think what we did at Michigan, sharing the ball and playing as a team, very organized basketball, that can help big-time," he said. "It's basically pro basketball I was playing on a different level."

As Wagner will tell you, he is very confident in his abilities. He is comfortable in his own skin and that includes openly discussing his faults. He feels good about his ability to score at the next level. Defense is where he needs to prove himself.

Despite his size, Wagner wasn't much of a rim protector in college. He averaged just a half-block a game as a junior. The Wizards need rim protection badly and he likely would not provide that.

Wagner, though, believes he can bring more to the table defensively than the numbers would suggest.

"I think I've been an offensive guy all of my life, but the more that you mature as a player, you understand that both sides are important. Without defense, you aren't going to play at any level," he said.

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen, especially with the way the league is going. Switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Wagner is from Germany and looks up to Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, who is entering his 21st season and will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Nowitzki's game has always been built around shooting and, though he developed into a decent shot-blocker in his prime, was never an elite rim protector.

Wagner hopes to follow in his footsteps playing a similar style.

"He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball," Wagner said. "It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

Hear more from Wagner in his one-on-one interview with Chris Miller in our latest Wizards Tipoff podcast. His interview can also be found in the video above:

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Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

In what is perhaps the most unexpected Stanley Cup Final pairing in recent memory, the Washington Capitals and the Las Vegas Golden Knights are going to make history this year.

Either it is going to be the first expansion team to win a title in their first season, or it will be a team looking to end a 27-year title drought for one of the biggest cities in the United States.

But what it will not be is the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup.

Going even farther back than the Capitals last Stanley Cup appearance (1998), the Georgetown Hoyas and UNLV Rebels met in the 1991 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Sin City took the first, and up until now, the only postseason bout between these two cities. The Larry Johnson-led University of Las Vegas squad powered right past the Hoyas in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.

[D.C. sports and Second Rounds, I know right?]

Coming fresh off the NCAA title in 1990, UNLV waltzed right to the Final Four before meeting their demise against Duke. It also ended up being the last game for Dikembe Mutombo in a Georgetown uniform.

While in all likely-hood this will not be the final game/ series for Alex Ovechkin rocking the red, it may be his last and only chance for him to play this far into a postseason.

In the past two seasons, Vegas has gone from zero professional teams to having a Stanley Cup contender, a WNBA franchise, and lined up to take over the Oakland Raiders in 2020. 

Now time for the Golden Knights' Cinderella story to come up a little bit short. 

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