CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – A familiar face returns to Cleveland Sunday: former Browns head coach Romeo Crennel.
Crennel, who coached the Browns for four seasons from 2006-2009, has taken over as the Texans interim head coach after Bill O’Brien was fired as head coach and GM earlier this year.
Houston comes to town looking for its third win in five games under Crennel Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium where the Browns hope to have running back Nick Chubb and right guard Wyatt Teller back on the field.
“He is a strong runner. He is great going in conjunction with Hunt,” Crennel said Wednesday morning. “That is a great one-two punch that you guys have there. Now with him back, it is doubly difficult to try to figure out how they are going to try to attack us because offensively, you have a good offensive line and they are doing a lot of things well.
“We know we have our hands full, but we have to try to load up on the run as best we can, and knowing that if you load up on the run, that opens some things up on the back end. We have a lot of things that we have to work out.”
Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was activated from the reserve COVID-19 list and practiced Wednesday afternoon after being placed on it as a precaution over the weekend.
Mayfield has completed 61.4% of his passes for 1,514 yards with 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season but is coming off a disappointing offensive showing against the Las Vegas Raiders that saw him throw for just 122 yards and the Browns offense held to just 223 yards and six points.
It was the third time this year the Browns were limited to less than 10 points.
“I think Baker has done a good job of understanding the offensive system that is in place there,” Crennel said. “He is operating it very well. He fits into it. He can make the throws. Plus, he has a running game. He is protected in the passing game. I think that they do a good job of balance with the run-pass balance. The play-action passes are difficult. It is kind of like the whole package that he has available to him and that he is able to use, and as a result of it, they are 5-3. Some good things are happening.”
Two of the best pass rushers in the game will go at it in J.J. Watt of the Texans and Myles Garrett of the Browns.
Watt has four sacks this season, Garett nine.
“I think Myles will have more juice as a result of it because of what J.J. has been able to accomplish in his career,” Crennel said. “I like Myles a lot from what I see. He has good length, he has good quickness off the ball, he has flexibility and he doggedly pursues the quarterback. Generally, that means sacks.”
At 73, Crennel is getting another chance to run his own team.
One of the highlights of his coaching career was leading the Browns to 10 wins in 2007, the most the franchise has recorded in a single year since returning to the NFL.
“That was a great season,” Crennel said. “The thing that I remember about that record is we did not make the playoffs, and that was the most disappointing thing. You win 10 games, and generally, you are supposed to make the playoffs when you win 10. We won 10, and we lost the tiebreaker situation.”
Six Browns made the Pro Bowl that year including quarterback Derek Anderson and receiver Braylon Edwards. Joe Thomas, Josh Cribbs, Kellen Winslow Jr. and Ryan Pontbriand joined the dynamic duo in Hawaii.
“That is part of great teams, the quarterback-wide receiver chemistry that they develop, and they know that they can depend on each other,” Crennel said of Anderson and Edwards’ relationship that year. “Derek kind of knew when Braylon was going to make his break or how he was going to run the route and that allowed them to connect. That was a big part of us being able to win 10 that year.”