Nationals

Chiefs prepare for mirthless home finale vs Colts

Chiefs prepare for mirthless home finale vs Colts

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The electronic ribbon board that encircles one of the decks at Arrowhead Stadium still boasts before games that the home of the Kansas City Chiefs is the loudest in the NFL.

The 40-year-old building is configured in such a way that sound tends to reverberate inside the bowl, creating a deafening home-field advantage. Veterans who played there years ago often said they couldn't hear themselves talking amid the din.

``It's the No. 1 outside stadium I've ever been in'' in terms of noise, said Colts interim coach Bruce Arians, who coached running backs for the Chiefs from 1989-92.

``The only place that was even close, when I was in Kansas City, we went to Buffalo and Jim Kelly and those guys, we played them on Monday night in Kansas City,'' he said. ``Then we went there for the playoffs and they were rocking our buses. We could hardly get in the parking lot.''

All that ruckus in Kansas City seems to be a thing of the past, washed away by an on-field product that has been dull, inept and unsuccessful.

These days, you could probably hear a baby rattle in the upper deck.

``You're supposed to have a home-field advantage with the Chiefs. It's been that way for years,'' said linebacker Derrick Johnson, who's been around long enough to remember some of them.

The Chiefs were 7-1 at home when he broke into the league as a rookie. It was their final year under Dick Vermeil, and they went 10-6 overall, but failed to qualify for the playoffs.

The Chiefs were 6-2 at home the following year, when they went 9-7 under Herm Edwards and were beaten by the Colts in the postseason. And even two years ago under Todd Haley, the Chiefs managed to go 10-6 and qualify for the playoffs because they went 7-1 at home.

That 2010 season is quickly becoming the aberration. Kansas City was 2-6 at home in 2007 and 1-7 each of the next two years. They were 3-5 last season and are 1-6 with one game left in 2012, making them a combined 12-27 over the past five seasons.

That's a .308 winning percentage. In a place where they've won better than 57 percent of their games.

``You want to go out without a bad taste in our mouth at home,'' Johnson said, shaking his head. ``We've only won one game at home. You want to play better at home.''

Instead, the Chiefs have only that one victory at home this season. If they go 1-7 at Arrowhead again, well, the last time they managed only one victory before 2008 was 1977.

Empty seats have been multiplying with every loss the past two seasons, too. While the Chiefs' average home attendance remains 69,304 - good for 13th in the NFL - it also represents just 90.3 percent of capacity, better only than six teams in the league.

Pure attendance figures aren't necessarily representative of the number of fans walking into the stadium, either. There have been thousands of no-shows throughout the year, and the official count is also buoyed by opposing fans - and even curious Chiefs fans - who have shown up in droves to see the Oakland Raiders, or Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.

The Chiefs' game against Oakland drew a season-best 74,730, while their game against the Broncos drew 74,244. But against the Carolina Panthers, who lack the same gravitas of two bitter AFC West rivals, just 62,860 people showed up on a mild December afternoon.

Ask around the league these days, and Arrowhead Stadium hardly merits honorable mention among the loudest venues. The Superdome and other indoor stadiums generally top the list, and CenturyLink Field in Seattle was designed to ramp up the volume.

``We need to play better at home. We haven't consistently done that,'' said Johnson, when asked what it would take to restore the verve to the home of the Chiefs.

Throw out last week's game against Oakland, when the Chiefs' offense was so inept it skewed just about every statistic, and Kansas City has been more productive on the road.

Arguably its best game came when it rallied from 18 down to beat the Saints 27-24 in New Orleans. The Chiefs also took the Pittsburgh Steelers to overtime on the road before losing.

Chiefs quarterback Brady Quinn is stumped by the lack of success, but he does know that winning the home finale against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday would help assuage some of the angst.

``I think it would be a sweet taste in everyone's mouth,'' Quinn said, ``if we could leave there for the last time this season with a win.''

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3 Up, 3 Down: Allow Juan Soto to distract you from Bryce Harper

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USA TODAY

3 Up, 3 Down: Allow Juan Soto to distract you from Bryce Harper

Nationals fans are teetering on the edge. 

On one hand, the Nats are 3.5 games out of first place after a 10-week span full of injuries and underperformance. The team just acquired All-Star closer Kelvin Herrera, and their 19-year-old left fielder looks like an All-Star already. 

On the other hand, doom is imminent. The Monstars stole Bryce Harper's abilities at some point over the last three weeks, Steven Strasburg can't stay healthy, and the offense is pushing everyone's patience to the limit. 

So who's overperforming? Who's underperforming? Who's out there just trying their very best? LET'S LIST. 

Three Up

1. Juan Soto

Our large young son Juan continues to impress. He's now hitting .325/.411/.602 with a 1.013 OPS in 95 plate appearances over 25 games. That means we're mercifully starting to leave the 'fluky start' narrative behind. He's been the best hitter on the Nationals by a wide margain since he got called up - although that's perhaps more of an indicitment on the rest of the lineup than it is on Soto. Still, in less than a month he's probably earned the starting left field spot for the rest of the summer. Not bad. 

2. Justin Miller

Miller is 31, on his third team in four years, and owns a career ERA north of 4.50. Despite all of this, Miller's been the best reliever in baseball since coming up for the Nats. Of relief pitchers with at least 10 innings pitched (we hear your sample size comment and are not going to acknolwdge it), no one has a better FIP than Miller (0.64). He's striking out over half of the batters he sees and has yet to walk a single person this year. All the elite relief pitchers are already at 30-40 innings pitched, so Miller has a while to go before these stats mean a whole lot. If he stays even 75 percent as good as he's started, the Nats' bullpen looks scary. 

3. Michael A. Taylor

Have yourself a week or two, Michael A.! The centerfielder is slashing .500/.556/.583 over the last 14 days, the first of many "Maybe He Put It Together?!" runs we'll see from him this year. He also has six stolen bases during that span, more than anyone else on the team. His plate discipline has been better over the last two weeks, with a BB% a shade over 11 percent - only behind Juan Soto for highest on the team. Juan Soto, man. 

Three Down

1. Bryce Harper

A couple things here. We'll start with the admission that Bryce Harper is obviously not having a superb year. We've already briefly touched on why looking at only his batting average is a lazy way of judging his season, and we stand by that. With that said - Harper's had a bad season. The last month has been particularly painful. There's no way of dressing up a .189/.278/.400 slashline over the last 30 days. Still, his contact has been as great as his luck terrible - there's a positive regression coming, we promise. 

2. Pedro Severino 

And you think Harper's been slumping?? Over the same 30 days, Severino has hit .098/.179/.115 with a .294 OPS. He's essentially daring the Nats to put together a trade package for JT Realmuto at this point. He has six hits over his last 68 plate appearances and five of them are singles. 

3. Shawn Kelley

Kelley owns a 6.09 FIP and a 4.32 ERA over the last month (10 games, 8.1 innings pitched). He's walking close to nine percent of the hitters he's faced during that time. He has a 12.5 HR/FB over the last month. With the trade for Kelvin Herrera and the sudden emergence of Justin Miller, Kelley's role going forward isn't quite as clear anymore. 

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Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jerome Robinson

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jerome Robinson

The Washington Wizards hold the 15th and 44th overall picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects projected to be picked around where the Wizards will select...

2018 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Jerome Robinson

School: Boston College
Position: Shooting guard
Age: 21
Height: 6-5
Weight: 188
Wingspan: 6-7
Max vertical: N/A

2017/18 stats: 20.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.3 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.1 bpg, 48.5 FG%, 40.9 3PT% (2.3 3PT/5.7 3PA), 83.0 FT%
Player comparison: Danny Green
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 29th, NBADraft.net 16th, Bleacher Report 19th, Sports Illustrated 17th

5 things to know:

*A three-year player at BC, Robinson developed into a big-time scorer before making the leap to the NBA. He averaged 18.7 points as a sophomore and then 20.7 points as a junior while improving his shooting percentages across the board. He went from 42.3 percent from the field as a sophomore to 48.5 in 2017-18.

*Robinson turned himself into an excellent three-point shooter. After shooting just 33.3 percent as a sophomore, he got that up to 40.9 percent as a junior and on 5.7 attempts per game. That trajectory bodes well for Robinson's chances at the next level.

*He has a quick release on his jumper, giving him the ability to be effective on catch-and-shoot plays off screens. Robinson could develop into a reliable scorer who doesn't need the ball in his hands as a primary focus of the offense. He also showed the ability to throw down some powerful dunks and finish with creativity at the rim. He didn't record a vertical leap at the NBA Combine, but playing above and around the rim didn't appear to be a problem in college.

*Though it didn't show in his last season at Boston College, Robinson was adept at forcing turnovers in his first two years. He averaged 1.6 steals per game across his freshman and sophomore seasons and 16 times in his career had three steals or more in a game.

*Questions for Robinson would include his versatility and speed. Some draft evaluators wonder if he will be able to get separation off the dribble at the NBA level. Also, he put up decent rebounding and assists numbers in college but didn't exactly stand out in either category.

Fit with Wizards: Robinson would give the Wizards depth at the shooting guard position and they need that. He could help Bradley Beal pare down his minutes and offer a scoring punch off the Wizards' bench. The Wizards could use a reliable shooter to help space the floor for Kelly Oubre, Jr. and others in the second unit.

The problems with Robinson's fit would be his lack of positional versatility and what appears to be a relatively low ceiling. He's not the freak athlete that some of his counterparts are at shooting guard. If the Wizards are choosing between Robinson and guys like Zhaire Smith and Lonnie Walker IV, they could view the latter two as more enticing because of their potential. Robinson would represent a safer pick while others could pay off big-time and have a greater impact on the franchise in the long-term.

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More draft prospect profiles:

Kevin Knox, PF, Kentucky

Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech

Landry Shamet, PG/SG, Wichita State

Gary Trent, Jr., SG, Duke

Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami

Anfernee Simons, PG/SG, IMG Academy

Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton

Chandler Hutchison, SG/SF, Boise State

Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland

Mitchell Robinson, C, Western Kentucky

Troy Brown, SG/SF, Oregon

Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova

Moritz Wagner, PF/C, Michigan

Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio State

For more on the NBA Draft, check out our latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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