Chiefs offense a no-show the last 2 games


Chiefs offense a no-show the last 2 games

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Duck, Kansas City, a nasty quarterback controversy may be headed your way.

It's just what the embattled, touchdown-starved Chiefs do not need. But if coach Romeo Crennel returns Brady Quinn to the bench and puts Matt Cassel back under center, a quarterback controversy seems assured.

Crennel made it clear Tuesday that Quinn and Cassel are now in head-to-head competition.

``What I told them is I'm rotating the quarterbacks. They will get equal reps,'' Crennel said. ``Both of them will get work and then we'll evaluate it and then next week we'll get ready for game week and then we'll make a decision and go from there.''

Drawing from bitter experience during four stormy years as head coach in Cleveland, Crennel knows how destructive a QB controversy can be.

``It is distracting,'' Crennel said. ``Everybody's wondering who the guy's going to be, and all those kind of things. Then what happens, some guys on the team kind of favor one guy over another guy. Even though everybody's got a job to do and they will do their job. But it is a distraction.''

Cassel missed last week's game at Tampa Bay with a concussion he sustained the week before. That was fine with some fans; many have never warmed to the former New England backup who didn't help his case by throwing nine interceptions through the first five games.

But Cassel was back on the wind-swept practice field Tuesday, cleared for noncontract drills, and Crennel expects him to be OK by the time the Chiefs (1-5) come back from their bye week and play Oakland (1-4) on Oct. 28.

No matter who's under center, the offense will be looking for its first touchdown in eight quarters.

``They will give (Cassel) another test next week, on game week, to finalize, to make it official,'' Crennel said. ``But I imagine, during these couple of days here, if he does good and there's nothing different on his baseline test, that he'll be cleared for contact.''

Cassel was having no trouble moving around.

``I feel great, yeah,'' he said. ``I've passed all the tests and done all that.''

Quinn, in his first start in almost three seasons, did OK for the most part during last week's 38-10 loss to the Buccaneers, the Chiefs' fourth blowout defeat. He was 22 for 38 for 180 yards, sticking almost entirely to short and intermediate-range passes.

He had two interceptions, but at least one was hardly his fault as it bounced off the receiver's thigh, bounced off the defensive back's forearm and bounced off the back of the receiver's elbow before Ronde Barber snatched it out of the air, about an inch from the ground, and returned it for a touchdown.

``He processed the information nicely. He was able to read defenses, get us out of a play, get us into a play,'' Crennel said.

But how long will it take to chip away the rust? Is it like riding a bicycle, it comes right back?

``I think that depends on how good of a rider you were to start with,'' the coach said.

Getting Cassel in a trade with New England was one of the first major moves Scott Pioli made after being named general manager in Kansas City in 2009. Although he had a nice year in 2010, last year was a struggle and this year's bad start includes a league-high 19 turnovers.

When Cassel went down in the fourth quarter of a 9-6 loss to Baltimore two weeks ago, some cheering was heard from the Arrowhead Stadium crowd. It prompted sharp comments from tackle Eric Winston about the hometown crowd and national attention no one wanted.

``All I'll say is I live here year-round in Kansas City and I've had nothing but support from the people in Kansas City and the people that we've met,'' Cassel said Tuesday. ``The fact of the matter is Kansas City is a great place to play and we've got a passionate fan base. I'm sure they're frustrated. I'm frustrated as well. But we're working and doing everything in our power to get it corrected.''

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Las Vegas changes iconic welcome sign to include no capital letters

Twitter/City of Las Vegas

Las Vegas changes iconic welcome sign to include no capital letters

The Washington Capitals official #ALLCAPS hashtag started in 2017 during a Caps-Penguins game after the Pittsburgh Penguins' official Twitter account decided to tweet in all lowercase letters during the game. 

Now, as the Caps look to face the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup Final ahead of Game 1 Monday, Vegas has followed suit by changing their iconic "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign to include only lowercase letters, a jab at the Capitals #ALLCAPS.

Additionally, the City's official Twitter account has changed their handle to "the city of las vegas" without any capital letters and the hashtag #nocaps.

It will be interesting to see how the Capitals' official Twitter will respond...


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Stanley Cup Final 2018: X-factors that could swing the series

Stanley Cup Final 2018: X-factors that could swing the series

The Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights have met only twice in their history. Neither team was expected to get to this point so you can go ahead and throw away the stats, the matchups, the data and the history. A new story will be written in the Stanley Cup FInal.

Who will ultimately win the Cup? Here are four factors that could ultaimtely swing the series.

1. Goaltending

The Caps have faced elimination only twice in the playoffs and Braden Holtby did not allow a single goal in either game. He enters the Stanley Cup Final having not allowed a single goal in 159:27. Andrei Vasilevskiy began to take over the series with his performance in Game 3, Game 4 and Game 5, but Holtby outplayed him to finish off the series in Washington’s favor.

Marc-Andre Fleury, meanwhile, has been the best player in the playoffs. Not the best goalie, the best player.

Through 15 games, Fleury has a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. As good as Vegas has been this postseason, Fleury has stolen several games for the Golden Knights.

Both of these goalies are certainly capable of stealing away a series for their respective teams. Which one will outplay the other?

2. Time off

Rust is a real thing in hockey. Just any team when they come off a bye week. When the Caps and Golden Knights take the ice on Monday, May 28, it will be the first game for Vegas since May 20. That’s over a week off.

Yes, getting rest at this time of the year is important, but too much rest leads to rust and that should be a major concern for Vegas, especially for a team that was playing so well and has so much momentum.

In the Eastern Conference Final, the Caps stunned the Tampa Bay Lightning by winning both Game 1 and Game 2 in Tampa. Could they do it again with a rusty Vegas team? Will the long layoff cost the Golden Knights one or even two home games to start the series?

3. The McPhee factor

Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee was the Caps’ general manager for 17 years starting with the 1997-98 season. He was fired in 2014, but was ultimately responsible for building the core of the Washington team that is now headed to the Stanley Cup Final.

But that also means he knows those players very, very well.

Nicklas Backstrom, Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky, John Carlson, Christian Djoos, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana, Tom Wilson, Braden Holtby, Philipp Grubauer and of course, Alex Ovechkin were all drafted by McPhee. Jay Beagle was also signed by as an undrafted free agent.

A general manager does not sign or draft anyone without knowing a good deal about the kind of player they are. Does that give McPhee a bit of an edge when it comes to facing the Caps?

4. Speed

The Golden Knights are fast. When the expansion draft was all said and done it was clear McPhee had targeted two things specifically: defensemen and speed. The result is an exceptionally fast Golden Knights team that no one has been able to keep up with so far.

Vegas' speed mixed with the goaltending of Fleury has proven to be a lethal combination. Their mobility makes it hard to get the puck from them or even keep it in the offensive zone. Once they get it, it’s going down the ice very quickly and you better keep up with them or it's going to end up in the back of the net. Once they build a lead, it is very difficult for teams to dig their way out as evidenced by their 10-1 record this postseason when scoring first.

Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh were both fast teams as well and the Capitals were able to combat that with strong play in the neutral zone. The 1-3-1 trap has given opponents fits and generated a lot of odd-man breaks for the Caps. Will it be as effective against a speedy Vegas team?