HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – The Houston Texans relied on their defense during the 2016 season to help carry them through a 9-7 season. While the Houston offense was near the bottom of the league in most categories, the defense was at or near the top under Romeo Crennel.
There will be several changes to the defensive personnel on the field after the departures of AJ Bouye, Quintin Demps, and John Simon. However, the biggest change was the person leading the defensive meeting room when Mike Vrabel was promoted to defensive coordinator with Crennel becoming the new assistant head coach.
Crennel who coached Vrabel as a player with the New England Patriots and served as his leader on the defensive coaching staff the last two seasons praised Vrabel’s work ethic and preparedness as to reasons why he can succeed in his new role.
“I think that (Vrabel’s) ready,” Crennel said on Wednesday at NRG Stadium’s media availability. “He’s organized, he’s a hard worker, he’s smart. Only time will tell but I think he’ll do very well.”
Vrabel takes over a defense that led the league fewest yards allowed and did it without three-time defensive player of the year JJ Watt. While he knows the successes of the year prior, he knows there is still room to improve for 2017.
“We talk about trying to enhance the things that we do well and then continue, and then try to fix the things that we didn’t do well,” Vrabel said. “We didn’t do a very good job of getting turnovers last year so we’ve tried to make it a point to fix it and improve on it and make it better in the offseason. We’ll see where that goes.”
While Vrabel will be running the show defensively, Crennel will still be around to assist. However, Crennel will not be micromanaging his protege Vrabel and to that same end Vrabel will bestow that same trust on his defensive staff.
“(Crennel) allowed us to coach our positions and take care of our guys and make sure that they knew everything that they needed to know for practice in this spring offseason and more importantly, the games,” Vrabel said when asked about qualities he may have adopted from Crennel. “I have to remember to try to give those assistant coaches enough time to get their guys ready for the game and not sit there and overtake the meeting and keep them in there for too long.”
Crennel, who will now assist assistance Bill O’Brien in a variety of roles and watch the game from the press box to and view the “big picture” of games and while he will provide guidance at times to Vrabel when he sees a reason to chime in, but he made sure that his presence wouldn’t be a hinderance to Vrabel’s development.
“I told (Head Coach Bill O’Brien) that I don’t want (Vrabel) feeling like I am looking over his shoulder,” Crennel said. “I want him to be his own man, to run the defense the way he wants to run it.”
Crennel a former head coach in Cleveland and Kansas City, could provide guidance to O’Brien in clock management and challenge situations if O’Brien asks for that assistance. While no longer in charge of the defense, Crennel was given the opportunity to remain with Texans in a new role with a two-year contract and he’s pleased to remain at NRG Stadium.
“I like this team. That’s one of the reasons I took this role – because of this team and the players on this team. I think we have something special going and we want to be able to take it to the next level. I think we can do that. The next couple years here we’ll see if we can move forward in the playoffs,” Crennel sid.
Alex Del Barrio covers the Houston Texans for Sportsradio610.com and is the color commentator for the Houston Dynamo. He also hosts “ADB and Murph” with Matt Murphy which can be heard on Saturday afternoons 4-7 pm Follow Alex Del Barrio on Twitter: @alexdelbarrio