Despite Loss, Crennel has Buy-In

A disappointing loss doesn't change the message that Romeo Crennel has been sending all year. The Cleveland Browns locker room is full of players echoing Crennel's belief that the team has to focus on each individual opponent.

Romeo Crennel's team has bought into many of his philosophies, illustrated by the fact Braylon Edwards has been transformed from a "me first" player to a player that is team oriented.

Not the least of those philosophies is Crennel's "one game at a time" mantra. If ever that was re-enforced, it was re-enforced after the Browns played sloppily in a 27-21 loss to the Cardinals.

"Now maybe people will stop talking about the playoffs for a while," defensive captain Andra Davis said.

The Browns will be in the Meadowlands Sunday to face the Jets, and though Davis does not want to talk about it, the game is key to the Browns' chances of regaining control of their playoff situation. They and the Titans are 7-5, tied for the last wild card spot.

The Jets are one of the bigger surprises on the negative side in the NFL this season, although they have won two of their last three. Crennel is bound and determined to make sure his team does not start thinking too far ahead with this and three other games to play.

"We haven't accomplished anything yet," said veteran linebacker Willie McGinest, who with Crennel as his defensive coordinator won three Super Bowl rings in New England, "We still have games to win to get to where we want to be. There's still a lot of football left."

All Crennel has to do is remind his team of two games, one involving his own team and one involving the Jets. The Browns played in Oakland after beating the Bengals 51-45 and, using Crennel's analysis, played as though they could just roll their helmets onto the field and win. They didn't get going until they were behind 16-0, and though they once led 17-16, they could not maintain the lead and lost 26-24. They trailed Arizona 14-0 and rallied to within 21-18 before losing. Crennel wants a fast start against the Jets.

Crennel will have his team wary of the Jets because they beat the Steelers last month, something the Browns have been unable to do in six games under Crennel, and last week they crushed Miami 40-13.

The Jets' defense ranks higher than the Browns' does, both in yardage and points allowed, so the Browns will not go into the game counting on a shootout.

As the season has progressed, the Browns have come to rely less on Derek Anderson's arm and more on Jamal Lewis' legs. That could be the case again in the Meadowlands, particularly if it is a cold, blustery day.

"This is the time of year when it's cold and defenses wear down and don't want to tackle," Lewis said. "November and December is my time of year to run the football."

Lewis rushed for 92 yards against the Ravens Nov. 18 and 134 against the Texans a week later. He rushed for 62 yards against the Cardinals.

Playing back to back road games as the Browns must do going from Glendale to New Jersey and not being overwhelmed by it fits with Crennel's philosophy of concentrating on one game at a time. They lost their first two road games of the season and then won two of their next three before losing in Arizona.


--NT Ethan Kelly sat out his second straight game with a knee injury. Shaun Smith replaced him in the starting lineup.

--DE Orpheus Roye sat out with a knee injury. The Browns had only four healthy defensive linemen -- Simon Fraser, Shaun Smith, Robaire Smith a Louis Leonard.

--CB Eric Wright missed his second straight game with a knee injury. He practiced at the end of last week, creating hope he might play against the Jets.

--Braylon Edwards caught seven passes for 149 yards, increasing his season's yardage total to 1,043.

--KR Josh Cribbs was held to 31 yards on three kick returns -- his lowest production of the season.


The OBR Top Stories