Head coach Bill O'Brien knew he wanted Romeo Crennel to remain on his coaching staff. Crennel, whose contract was set to expire, helped develop the Texans top-ranking defense last season that finished No. 1 in the NFL for the first time in franchise history.
"He had been a former head coach, had great success as a defensive coordinator in a similar system in pro football that I was familiar with," O'Brien said Jan. 12. "I knew that having a guy like him on our staff with all of the different experiences that he's had in football both on and off the field – forget about the X's and O's – just all the other things he's had to deal with, I knew that he'd be a valuable member of the staff."
After three seasons as the Texans defensive coordinator, Crennel will still oversee the defense but also serve in his new role, as assistant head coach. With no new offensive coordinator named after the exit of George Godsey, O'Brien will lead the offense moving forward and lean on Crennel's 35 years of NFL coaching experience, plus five Super Bowl championships.
"We have a good relationship," O'Brien said. "He loves football, I love football, we talk about a lot of different things as it relates to things that he's had to deal with in his career, even when he was a head coach. You can bounce things off of him - he's had a great amount of experience."
The two never worked together in New England, but O'Brien brought Crennel aboard in 2014 to help him accomplish what he was trying to build in Houston. In 2016, the Texans defense allowed just 301.3 total net yards per game, the fewest first downs (17.0), and the second second-fewest net passing yards per game (201.6), despite losing J.J. Watt and Kevin Johnson to season-ending injuries.
As the injuries mounted, the defense got even better. Crennel vowed to improve the team's ability to stop the run heading into the Week 8 bye, and did. From Weeks 8-17, Houston led the NFL in rushing defense too, allowing a league-low average of just 71.9 net rushing yards per game and just three rushing touchdowns.
To see the updated 2017 Houston Texans assistant coaching staff, click here.
Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel gets the Throwback Thursday treatment. Check out pics of him as an assistant with the Giants and Patriots, as well as head coach of the Browns and Chiefs.