Redskins

Chiefs waste record-setting rushing day in defeat

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Chiefs waste record-setting rushing day in defeat

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Jamaal Charles seemed to be happy with himself. Peyton Hillis had to feel vindicated, and embattled offensive coordinator Brian Daboll finally had a reason to smile.

Imagine how they would have felt if the Chiefs had actually won.

Even while playing out the string in a season lost long ago, Kansas City managed an offensive output that should go down in franchise history. Charles ran for 226 yards on Sunday, Hillis had 101 and the Chiefs piled up 352 yards on the ground against the Colts' backpedaling defense.

If not for a miserable effort by quarterback Brady Quinn, two turnovers in the red zone and a stuffed attempt at converting fourth down, the Chiefs might have won another game.

Instead, the Colts scored late in the fourth quarter for a 20-13 victory.

``We had a feeling we could run on them,'' Charles said. ``When Peyton did a good job running the first half, I thought, `Man, Peyton's getting off. I got to do some, too.' So I felt like I had to go out there and run the ball as well.''

The Chiefs certainly ran the ball well.

Their total was the third-best in franchise history, trailing only a couple of games in the 1960s, when teams generally ran the ball with more gusto than they do these days.

Not a bad day to put in the history books, except that it came with an asterisk: It's the most yards rushing in a losing effort in NFL history, eclipsing the 320 yards the 1944 edition of the Cleveland Rams ran for in a loss to Washington.

``We wanted to be able to run the ball and it turned out we were able to run it,'' Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said, who gave his players Monday off to celebrate the holidays.

We're disappointed,'' he added, ``as we have been many times this year.''

Thirteen times, to be exact. The Chiefs (2-13) and are tied with Jacksonville for the league's worst record heading into their season finale next Sunday against Denver. Kansas City also holds the tiebreaker for the No. 1 draft pick by virtue of their strength of schedule.

That's one positive to come out of a disastrous season.

Another one has been Charles.

After missing nearly all of last season with a torn left ACL, the former All-Pro running back has been better than ever. He's run for 1,456 yards, the seventh-best season in franchise history, and can break his own single-season-high set in 2010 with 12 yards against the Broncos.

His big game against the Colts, in which Charles surpassed 750 career carries, also qualifies him for the NFL record for yards per carry. Charles is averaging 5.82 yards on 770 attempts, which far surpasses the 5.22 yards that Jim Brown averaged in 2,359 attempts from 1957-65.

``Records are meant to be broken, and I always try to break records,'' Charles said. ``Breaking Jim Brown's record, it's one of the most special of all time to me because, listening from the past, he was one of the best running backs of all time.''

Charles has gone over 200 yards rushing twice this season, and three times in his career, which also sets a franchise record. He also has the three biggest games in Chiefs history, and his 84-yard touchdown run in the third quarter gave him three 80-plus runs this season.

``He's super-fast, he's tough. He's a scary sight for a defensive guy,'' Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said. ``He opens up a lot of things for the offense. He's a key player.''

Some of Charles' running room was no doubt thank to Hillis, the former Browns bruiser who has been a disappointment since signing as a free agent in the offseason.

He bullied his way for 101 yards on Sunday, his best game since Dec. 24, 2011.

The thunder-and-lightning combination gave the Chiefs their first duo of 100-yard rushers since Oct. 7, 1991, when Christian Okoye and Harvey Williams did it against Buffalo. It's a feat that has only been accomplished six times in the 53-year history of the Chiefs.

``You can't go back and say, `We should have run the ball more,''' Charles said. ``Losing by seven points, it didn't have nothing to do with us running the ball.''

It had to do with Quinn's inefficient game, poor execution in clutch situations and a defense that had played well all afternoon failing to get off the field late in the fourth quarter.

It also had to with Daboll's offense, which has been historically inept, failing to get into the end zone despite one of the most productive ground games in franchise history.

``We turned the ball over, got penalties at inopportune times and gave up an easy touchdown at the end of the game, as well as miss a field goal,'' Crennel said. ``So when those kinds of things happen, it's hard, and until we can rectify that, that's what we have to deal with.''

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Not everyone thinks the Redskins need to invest more at wide receiver

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Not everyone thinks the Redskins need to invest more at wide receiver

While the rumors about the Redskins potentially trading for Marvin Jones from over the weekend were total nonsense, a reason they resonated so much with fans is because many believe Washington needs major help at wide receiver.

But during a segment of Monday's Redskins 100 show, analyst Trevor Matich assessed the position group and actually thinks that, as a whole, the team should be relatively pleased with the talent it has outside.

"I like it better than I have in recent years, especially if Paul Richardson stays healthy," Matich said.

His "especially" qualifier is a common one, and that's because Richardson is the most established wideout currently on the roster — and he still has just 1,564 career receiving yards to his name. However, a healthy Richardson (which the 'Skins never really saw in his first year, considering he got injured early in training camp and was never the same) provides Jay Gruden the field stretcher he loves to have.

Richardson isn't the only player Matich is anxious to see, though.

"Terry McLaurin, their draft choice from Ohio State, is legitimately a 4.3 guy," he said. "He gets deep down the field and catches the ball in space."

One of the biggest issues for the 2018 Redskins was a lack of speed at every single spot. In Richardson and McLaurin, the Burgundy and Gold now have a pair of pass catchers who can fly past corners, do damage 30-plus yards down the sideline and open things up for other targets as well.

Overall, in reacting to the Jones storyline, Matich really doesn't see a huge need for the organization to make any additions to that collection of pieces. 

"I think that when you take a look at all the other guys, Trey Quinn in the slot, things like that, this receiving corps is fine," he said. "It's not desperate. They don't need to invest resources to bring extra people in."

Now, is "fine" and "not desperate" the level the front office and coaches want their receivers to be? Of course not. But Matich's stance is intriguing, because he's content with who'll be lining up there while plenty of others absolutely don't see it that way and feel a trade would be prudent.

If you're in that second group, recent history indicates this is the dead zone for NFL deals. So try not to waste your time refreshing Twitter over and over and over.

Perhaps Washington gets to Richmond and, after a few weeks of practices and a couple of exhibition contests, realizes their depth chart could use another name. Or maybe an injury happens and forces their hand. But according to Matich, as of now, the offense can function with the parts it has in place.

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Free Agency Bracket: Brett Connolly vs. Devante Smith-Pelly

Free Agency Bracket: Brett Connolly vs. Devante Smith-Pelly

It is almost time for NHL free agency to begin, and the Capitals certainly have needs to fill and a limited budget. Who would be the best fit? Who would be the best free agent target for Washington to pursue? That’s what NBC Sports Washington wants to find out!

Our experts got together and made a bracket of the 16 best free agent fits. The bracket is divided into four regions: Third line forward, fourth line forward, depth defenseman and Caps’ free agent. Now we want you to tell us who you want to see rocking the red next year!

Every weekday we will match two free agents up against one another and present a case for each player. Then you get to vote and decide who advances!

Check out today’s quarterfinal matchup:

Region: Capitals free agents

Brett Connolly vs. Devante Smith-Pelly
 
2018-19 stats

Brett Connolly (27 years old): 81 games played with the Capitals, 22 goals, 24 assists, 46 points, 13:20 TOI
 
Playoffs: 7 games played with the Capitals, 2 goals, 0 assists, 4 points, 13:50 TOI

Devante Smith-Pelly (27 years old): 54 games played with the Capitals, 4 goals, 4 assists, 8 points, 10:51 TOI

Playoffs: 3 games played with the Caps, no goals, no assists, no points, 9:47 TOI

 
Hockey-Graph contract projections

Brett Connolly: 3 years, $3,536,091 cap hit
 
Devante Smith-Pelly: 2 years, $1,149,369

The case for Brett Connolly

The Capitals have already re-signed one of their third-line free agents with Carl Hagelin’s new deal. Is there room left for Connolly? Connolly has made himself comfortable in Washington. He tied his career highs in goals twice (15) and then broke through with a career-best 22. And he is one of the league’s most productive players given his limited ice time. 
 
There are just too many big names in front of Connolly to get him much power-play time. Those 22 goals wouldn’t be easy to replace and GM Brian MacLellan said scoring depth is a concern this offseason. If he is again willing to sacrifice role for a bump in pay and some security then maybe Connolly returns to a place he re-ignited his career. The talent is certainly there as the No. 6 overall pick in the 2010 draft and Connolly is headed into his age-27 season so a three or four-year deal takes care of his prime years. 
 
But the argument ultimately rests on the salary cap, which at $81.5 million is problematic. It might be out of Washington’s hands anyway. Even if the Capitals want to keep him, other teams could use money AND ice time to entice Connolly. But can they strike gold again with another cheap third-line winger as they did with Connolly? That’s not easy to replicate. They could simply sign Connolly and take care of it, but the salary cap is tight.

The case for Smith-Pelly

There is no question that Smith-Pelly can be inconsistent, but he always seems to bring it in the playoffs. Before his seven-goal performance in the 2018 Cup run, Smith-Pelly was brilliant with the Anaheim Ducks scoring five goals in 12 games back in 2014.

With Carl Hagelin re-signed and players like Jakub Vrana, Christian Djoos and other depth pieces still on the horizon, affordability is pretty much the biggest asset for any free agent available to Washington and it won’t get much more affordable than Smith-Pelly.

Hockey-Graphs can be spot on with some of its projections and outright wrong for others and this case is definitely the latter. Smith-Pelly’s contract for the 2018-19 season was a one-year deal with a cap hit of $1 million. After scoring just eight points and getting demoted to the AHL, there is no way he walks into next season with a two-year deal and a raise. The cap hit is going to be low for Smith-Pelly and that makes him a very attractive choice for the Caps – if both sides can put last year’s awkwardness behind them. 

Who’s your pick? Vote here. 

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