Phil Savage keeps calling Romeo Crennel the “right man for the right time.” Few heads were nodding in the affirmative when the Browns’ general manager was saying that about the head coach in August.
Phil Savage keeps calling Romeo Crennel the “right man for the right time.”
Few heads were nodding in the affirmative when the Browns’ general manager was saying that about the head coach in August.
Now? If Crennel’s future was put to a fan vote, there’s little doubt he’d win re-election to at least a one-year term beyond 2007.
Crennel has never acted worried about impeachment.
At 60, having coached on Super Bowl teams at three other stops, he’s comfortable with who he is, even if his 10-22 record through two years with the Browns made thousands -- some within the organization -- uneasy.
In terms of enjoying his first shot at head coaching any team at any level, he seemed to enjoy the two building years as much as was possible.
He found a reason to smile every day then. Now, with the team on the verge of its sixth win in its last eight games, his disposition is all the sunnier.
If his team beats Houston Sunday -- and if Tennessee loses at Cincinnati -- the Browns will be ahead in the wild-card standings.
Crennel, who grew up living all over the place in a military family and who has lived the nomadic life of a coach, is sounding like a man who has found a home.
“I’m glad we have (Houston) here at our place in front of our fans,” he said Friday, in a particularly ebullient mood the day after Thanksgiving. “I know our fans are going to be excited.”
He was willing to come a few feet off the “same-as-any-other-game” jargon. He knows the town is juiced about the prospect of going to Arizona with a 7-4 record.
“It’s going to be crucial for us,” he said.
This was a crucial year for Crennel. Odds were he wouldn’t survive it. National publications saw the Browns in a 6-10 vein, or worse. Such a record would have been right on the firing line.
Beating the underdog Texans, though, makes the Browns one of the hottest teams this side of Foxborough.
Crennel’s prospects for survival have vaulted ahead of other AFC coaches, including:
- Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis. This will be his fifth year without a playoff win. His team is 3-7.
- Baltimore’s Brian Billick. His Ravens have one playoff win since the 2000 season. After losing to the Browns, Billick’s 2007 playoff chances are less than those of Kyle Boller beating Peyton Manning out of a Pro Bowl spot.
- The Jets’ Eric Mangini. Beating Pittsburgh only means his second season out of New England is less a disaster.
- San Diego’s Norv Turner. They want Marty Schottenheimer back. Heck, they’d rather have Crennel.
Crennel still has a lot to prove. He was supposed to be a defensive whiz, but that unit is ranked No. 32. On the other hand, Crennel’s long background as a special teams coach counts for something.
Joshua Cribbs and the return game have been more consistent than the team’s surprising offense, viewed as a Rob Chudzinski-Derek Anderson thing.
On the other hand, Crennel came into 2007 needing to prove he could handle himself in the AFC North, where he was winless last year. This year: 3-2.
He had been a big disappointment at Cleveland Browns Stadium, where he was 2-6 in ‘06. This year: 4-1.
He’s humble about the newfound home-field advantage.
“Like I tell the players all the time,” he said, “it’s not an advantage unless we make it an advantage.
“The energy the home crowd has flows over to the field. If we make plays, then it will be an advantage.
“It does feel good to be able to win at home in front of your fans. I think everybody feels good when that happens.”
Not everybody in Browns Nation feels great about Crennel, even now. But by the end of 2006, did anybody?
Holly to start
Starting cornerback Eric Wright had this to say about a television report he will be out four to six weeks: “I mean, that’s funny.”
Yet, while Wright seems optimistic he’ll be back soon, he didn’t practice Friday, and the Browns list him as “out” for the Houston game.
Young veteran Daven Holly will start in Wright's place against an offense with one of the league’s most talented wideouts, Andre Johnson.
While Wright wouldn’t disclose specifics about his injury, alternately called a sprain and a strain by Crennel, he waved off the notion it is serious.
Wright said his knee “got twisted” in the first quarter at Baltimore.
“When you watch the play, it looks bad,” he said. “Once I got up, I realized it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was when I was laying there.”
Starting nose tackle Ethan Kelley did not practice Friday and was listed as doubtful with a knee problem.
The defensive line is already thin because Ted Washington is on injured reserve, and Shaun Smith missed the Baltimore game. Smith got in some practice reps today and is listed as questionable.
- Guard Eric Steinbach, a Pro Bowl contender with his play at left guard, is feeling some of the vibe that was present in Cincinnati the year he helped the Bengals win the AFC North. “We can be 7-4, which would be a great start to this point,” Steinbach said before Friday’s practice. “We’re leaving a lot of plays out there we should be making. We haven’t played our best game. That’s encouraging.”
- CBS has assigned Gus Johnson and Steve Tasker to the Texans-Browns telecast.