When Bill O’Brien came calling three years ago after being named Texans head coach, Romeo Crennel wasn’t doing a whole lot.
“I was sitting at home with my feet propped up, getting on my wife’s nerves waiting for someone to call,” Crennel told reporters at NRG Stadium Thursday afternoon.
Crennel started coaching in the NFL in 1981. He’s been employed every season since, except for two. He sat out 2009 after having his hip replaced, and 2013 when the phone didn’t ring, following a 2-14 season in 2012 as Kansas City Chiefs head coach, which cost him his job, but that changed when the Texans hired O’Brien.
“Obviously, there was some mutual connections,” O’Brien said Thursday. “He had heard about me, obviously, I had called plays against him, so it was just something where I picked up the phone and try to make a connection, and then we met, and I talked to him about how I saw things here, and how we’d try to do things here, and he accepted the job.”
Under Crennel, the Texans defense finished in the middle of the pack, third last season and despite injuries up and down the lineup, the unit leads the NFL allowing 306.5 yards per game.
“He’s able to use a lot of guys in different areas in different versatile ways, so it allows people to be put into positions to make plays,” Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus said.
The head coach concurs.
“He does a great job,” O’Brien said. “He’s been doing it a long time, got a lot of experience, great poise. Handles the room really well, both the player room and his coaching staff. He’s got a really strong staff underneath him. He’s done an excellent job, and I think the players really respect him.”
When asked for a couple of things that make him one of the greatest defensive coordinators in league history, Crennel took the humble road.
“I’m just a hard worker,” he said. “I try to do the best I can, try to get my guys to play hard, try to give them a good plan, and when all those things come together we win, and like I tell them I say when you do good, I do good, when you guys do bad, I do bad, and so I kind of ride along with them.”
Crennel will be 70 by the time camp rolls around, but as he completes his 34th season in the NFL, he says retirement is far from his mind.
“I used to work for the guy named Parcells, and he says as soon as you think about retirement you might as well be retired. I don’t think about it, I go week-to-week.”