Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel has had trouble
getting a shot at a head-coaching job for the same reason his
boss, coach Bill Belichick, did when he was an assistant. When
Belichick was the defensive coordinator for the Giants' two title
teams, in 1986 and '90, the perception was that coach Bill
Parcells was designing the schemes. In fact, Belichick drew up
the game plan, added wrinkles and was only occasionally overruled
With the Patriots, who are second in the league in scoring
defense, Crennel and Belichick work in much the same way. On
Tuesdays the two talk for about 15 minutes about the game plan,
and then Crennel brainstorms with his staff to finalize strategy.
On the sideline the coordinator calls the defensive signals and
is seldom overruled by Belichick.
Because of injuries to key players in its base 3-4 defense, New
England has had to make adjustments on the fly. Nevertheless, the
Pats have improved from 31st in run defense last year to fourth
The Giants are likely to interview Crennel, and the Falcons and
possibly the Raiders could be interested in the 23-year NFL
assistant. "My track record is, I've been a part of a winner,"
says Crennel, 56. "I've been able to incorporate new players into
new roles. And I can get players to play for me."