Sometimes, you have to take a step back and remember all of the critical faces that played vital roles in Bill Belichick’s dominant tenure with the New England Patriots. Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel will be recognized forever as one of the best defensive minds to ever grace the NFL.
Belichick and Crennel have been inexorably linked throughout NFL history, as they have coached alongside one another with the Giants, Jets, and Patriots. One of the best defensive line instructors the game has ever seen, Crennel’s reputation within the league is sterling.
Crennel, who spent the last three seasons as a coordinator, interim head coach, and senior assistant with the Houston Texans, officially called time on a career that started as a graduate assistant at Western Kentucky in 1970. Belichick is well aware of the unique perspective Crennel brought to the Patriots during his tenure.
Belichick said that Crennel made 50 decisions per day that ended up changing the trajectory of the Patriots. Assistant coaches never get the glitz and glamour of successful head coaches, but Belichick’s respect for Crennel and his ability to help build a winner was shining through here.
Romeo Crennel is a New England Patriots great.
After nearly a decade in college, Crennel got his NFL start as a special teams coach with the Giants in 1981. While he spent eight seasons alongside Belichick in New York and even moved to New England in 1990, Crennel rose to fame as Belichick’s defensive coordinator from 2001 to 2004. Crennel dominated here before becoming head coach of the Browns.
In New England’s three championship seasons, Crennel ranked sixth, first, and second in points allowed per game. That ability to turn poor players into quality starters and skilled players into Hall of Famers helped Crennel continue to cash checks as a head coach and top assistant for nearly two more decades.
Many will unfortunately remember Crennel as a bad head coach, as he went 32-63 with Cleveland, Kansas City, and Houston while only having one season in which he won more than six games. That shouldn’t subtract from one of the longest coaching careers in league history.
When the Patriots won three Super Bowls in four years, it was Crennel and the defense who were able to shut down some of the most feared units in the game. Belichick will bend over backward for coaches he likes, as the sagely Patriots leader knows that Crennel is worthy of being praised upon his retirement.