Finding Out More About RAC
Patrick D. Starr
There has been plenty of publicity surrounding the hiring of new defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel to the Houston Texans. So we decided to go to his last stop of coaching with the Kansas City Chiefs where he started as the defensive coordinator of the Chiefs under Todd Haley, but took over the head coaching duties for one season.
We enlisted the help of Ryan Allessio, who has been a Chiefs fan as far back as he knows. He has had plenty of his work and analysis of the Chiefs and the NFL draft published on site across the internet. He calls himself a freelance Tweeter that talks football, the Notebook and beers.
Give me your impression of Romeo Crennel the coach.
Romeo is a hard headed old school football coach. The players love him because of his nurturing ways on and off the field. His scheme can be archaic yet when executed with the correct talent he was often in the top 10 scoring Ds.
When Crennel was the defensive coordinator under Todd Haley what did you like most about his scheme? What didn't you like?
I liked how he was able to develop players. He took a guy who I deemed late 1st rounder in Tyson Jackson and made him to a very good run stopping 2 gap 5 technique defensive end. Romeo was able to take the skill set of Tamba Hali and develop him in to one of the premier pass rushers in the game. He was able to bring the best out of players, buy in to a scheme and succeed with limited talent. The main thing I did not lik was that he rarely adapted his scheme to the players or to the 'times'. A 2 gap 3-4 D in a passing league is hard to be successful since you often times do not have a diverse pass rush. Rarely were the front 3 asked to truly rush the passer. You can put a lot of pressure on your secondary that way.
Did things change defensively for Crennel when he became the head coach?
Once he became head coach you could see the scheme change, incorporating more diverse blitzes and d line stunts.
Crennel in an interview said that the defensive line was the foundation of his defense, did you see this when he was there?
Romeo Crennel always stressing that the front three should be able to occuy 5-6 bodies - leaving space for the LBs to make plays. It is very importing not only in the passing game but the run game as well. It may not have always happened in KC but he always stressed the importance of a dominant front 3
How would you rate him as an evaluator of defensive talent?
He may not be the best evaluator of talent but he always stressed fundamentals and appreciates/rewards high effort guys.
Crennel was part of the staff that drafted Dontari Poe, did Crennel hold Poe back his rookie year?
I feel that Poe was held back his rookie year because they stressed and schemed Dontari to two gap. He is more of an upfield guy and has some pass rush ability. I will say that without that rookie year Dontari Poe may not be the player he is today. Poe needed to learn to use his body properly while anchoring, learn how to read and disengage, hand placement/usage - he was able to learn all that under the tutelage of Romeo.
Did Crennel's defense seem outdated at all when he was in Kansas City?
They seemed outdated but the overall lack of success of the team and or defense was not just because of Romeo. A lot of other issues like the total lack of accountability, transparency led to a deterioration of the players mindset and will to put in the work. You could ask many players and people close to those teams and give you a 100 reasons why they didnt succeed. It was not because of the actual coaching Romeo provided as DC.
What does a Crennel defense need to be successful?
A Romeo defense needs talent at all levels along with some stronger personalities to buy in and communicate to the team why they are their and what it takes to win. Mike Vrabel(your linebackers coach provided that while in KC as an OLB for 2 years). The Texans seem to have some personalities and natural alpha dogs that can be that bridge between the staff and overall success.
From the outside looking in, what do you think of Crennel getting another shot to be the defensive coordinator in Houston?
I want it to work for him. He is older, is his heart in it? A lot of those other issues I mentioned previously stem from that. Does he want to put in the work needed to get the Texans to be a top 5-8 D scoring wise. Bend do not break, is RAC broken as a coach? I think he does succeed mainly because of some of the talent they have along with potion coaches in place. Mercilus and Cushing will love coach Vrabel. Without someone like O'brien as HC and Vrabel on the staff I do not see a lot of success yet holistically, as a cog of the coaching staff, RAC should do very well for a year or two in Houston.