Romeo Crennel

Romeo Crennel
Houston Texans
Position: Defensive coordinator
Personal information
Date of birth: (1947-06-18) June 18, 1947
Place of birth: Lynchburg, Virginia
Career information
High school: Fort Knox (KY)
College: Western Kentucky
Career history
As coach:
Career highlights and awards
  • PFW Assistant Coach of the Year (2003)
Head coaching record
Regular season: 28–55 (.337)
Coaching stats at PFR

Romeo "Rac" Crennel (born June 18, 1947) is an American football coach who is the defensive coordinator for the Houston Texans of the National Football League (NFL). Though he has spent much of his career as a defensive assistant, he has also been the head coach of the Cleveland Browns and the Kansas City Chiefs. On January 20, 2014 he signed a 3-year deal to become the next defensive coordinator for the Houston Texans.

Playing career

Crennel played baseball and football at Fort Knox (Ky.) High School and Amherst County (Va.) High School before committing to college football at Western Kentucky. Although he was a four-year starter as a defensive lineman, he became an offensive lineman during his senior season at the request of the coaching staff. He was named the team's MVP after the switch but was not drafted and never played in the NFL. While the move did hinder his draft chances, it increased his knowledge of the game, by experiencing the trenches from both the offensive and defensive side of the football. Crennel earned a bachelor's degree in physical education from Western Kentucky University, and then a master's degree while serving as a graduate assistant for the school in 1970.

Coaching career


Western Kentucky University

After one season as a graduate assistant with Western Kentucky (1970), Crennel served as the defensive line coach for three seasons (1971–1974).

Texas Tech

After four seasons at WKU, he became an assistant for defensive coordinator Bill Parcells and head coach Steve Sloan at Texas Tech for three seasons (1975–1977).

Ole Miss and Georgia Tech

Crennel finished his collegiate career with two seasons as the defensive ends coach for Ole Miss (1978–1979) and one season as the defensive line coach for Georgia Tech (1980).

National Football League

Assistant coach

New York Giants

After spending two seasons as an assistant with the New York Giants, Crennel became the special teams coach for seven seasons (1983–1989) and the defensive line coach for three seasons (1990–1992). In 1983, he was reunited with Parcells as the head coach.

When Parcells stepped down as Giants head coach after Super Bowl XXV, Crennel stayed with the team under the two-year tenure of Ray Handley.

New England Patriots and New York Jets

Crennel left the Giants after the 1992 season and worked as the defensive line coach for the New England Patriots for four seasons (1993–1996) and for the New York Jets for three seasons (1997–1999) during the time that Parcells was the head coach in each franchise.

Cleveland Browns

Crennel was hired as the Cleveland Browns' defensive coordinator for the 2000 season.

Back to New England

After one season in Cleveland, he filled the same role with the Patriots for four seasons (2001–2004) under long-time friend Bill Belichick. The two had worked together on the Giants from 1981 to 1990 and had served on Parcells' staffs in New England and the Jets from 1996 to 1999. Crennel helped lead New England to three Super Bowl victories (2001, 2003, & 2004).

Kansas City Chiefs

On January 13, 2010, Crennel was hired as the Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator, reuniting him with offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and General Manager Scott Pioli from their days with the Patriots.[1]

Head coach

Before beginning the 2003 playoffs with the Patriots, Crennel interviewed for head coaching positions with six teams in under 36 hours. He was not offered any jobs, however, and was passed up by the New York Giants, the Buffalo Bills, the Arizona Cardinals, the Chicago Bears, and the Atlanta Falcons.[2]

Cleveland Browns

Crennel was hired to replace Butch Davis as head coach of the Cleveland Browns. He went 24–40 in his tenure with the Browns. His team went 6–10 and 4–12 in his first two seasons with the Browns, finishing last or tied for last in the AFC North and missing the playoffs each year. The Browns finished the 2007 season with a 10–6 record, just falling short of making the playoffs. Crennel's success in the 2007 season earned him a two-year contract extension in January 2008.[3]

On December 29, 2008, following a disappointing 4–12 season, Crennel was fired by the Browns.[4]

Kansas City Chiefs

Following Todd Haley's termination as the team's head coach after 13 games in the 2011 season, Crennel was named the team's interim head coach for the remaining three games of the season.[5] Crennel won his first game as the interim head coach of the Chiefs on December 18, 2011 against the then undefeated Green Bay Packers 19–14, which was significant as Crennel snapped the Packers' 19-game winning streak and ended their hopes for a perfect season.[6] Crennel finished his stint as interim head coach with a 2–1 record. However, in his tenure as a head coach for the Chiefs, Crennel would only win 2 more games finishing with a 4–15 overall record.

On January 9, 2012 Crennel was named the Chiefs' permanent head coach.[7] Three days later, Crennel announced his intent to remain as defensive coordinator during his tenure as head coach.[8]

On November 5, 2012, Crennel announced he would be stepping down as defensive coordinator and named linebackers coach Gary Gibbs to the vacant position, after a 1–7 start to the season.[9]

On December 1, 2012, Crennel attempted to prevent the suicide of player Jovan Belcher by talking to him and witnessed his death by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.[10][11] The following day, Crennel coached his team to a 27–21 victory over the Carolina Panthers, the Chiefs' first home victory since defeating the Packers the previous season, and the only other home win during his tenure.[12]

On December 31, 2012, it was announced that Crennel had been fired from the Chiefs.[13]

Houston Texans

On January 20, 2014, Crennel signed a deal with the NFL's Houston Texans as becoming their new defensive coordinator under their new head coach Bill O'Brien.[14]

Head coaching record

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
WonLostTiesWin %Finish Won Lost Win % Result
CLE2005 6100.3753rd in AFC North - - - -
CLE2006 4120.2504th in AFC North - - - -
CLE2007 1060.6252nd in AFC North - - - -
CLE2008 4120.2504th in AFC North - - - -
CLE Total24400.375 - - -
KC2011 210.6674th in AFC West - - - -
KC2012 2140.1254th in AFC West - - - -
KC Total4150.211 - - -
Total[15]28550.337 - - -

Coaching tree

NFL head coaches under whom Romeo Crennel has served:


Crennel had hip replacement surgery in early 2009 and decided to sit out the 2009 football season while recuperating. [16]

On the morning of December 1, 2012, he reportedly witnessed Chiefs player Jovan Belcher commit suicide at Arrowhead Stadium.[17][18]


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