Warpaint Illustrated: Talk about the season you had last year in guiding the Browns to 10-6
Romeo Crennel: After that first game, where we didn't play that well, there were a lot of doubts, but the kids hung in there and kept fighting. We were able to win the second game and put points on the board and I think that gave everybody confidence. They saw that we had enough talent and ability to be competitive in our division and in the NFL. As a result of that the players started working harder. In this business you have to have some confidence and believe that you're good and can do some good things. We were able to do that and that helped us turn it around.
WPI: How did your two first-round picks, Joe Thomas and Brady Quinn, progress throughout the year?
Crennel: They both had nice first years, particularly Joe Thomas. You take him first and he showed in training camp he had the ability and also he showed the mental fortitude to play his position, that left tackle spot where you have the best rushers in the NFL coming off the edge. Week in and week out he was able to hold his own. I think he's going to be a good player for a long time in this league.
Brady Quinn, we felt fortunate to get him when we did, we ended up giving up our number one to get him. He has the talent and ability to be a good player for the Browns. With Anderson coming on the way he came, Brady didn't get as much opportunity, so the way it's situated right now he's going to have to bide his time, but he's a good leader and will be a good quarterback. We have a good problem.
WPI: What did Derek Anderson do to earn the job last year?
Crennel: Really it was what he did in 2006. He went into the Kansas City game, and we won that one, so that showed us he had the ability. He was able to play a few more games that year and was able to throw the ball against Pittsburgh on a short week. We dropped some balls and didn't help him, but we saw the ability there.
We went into OTAs and training camp and tried to give him an opportunity and make it a competition, and it was close, but I decided to go with Frye in the first game. That didn't quite work and we ended up trading Frye, but once Derek was told he was the starter, he decided to take the bull by the horns. And then, boom, he's just run with it ever since.
WPI: What was it like turning around the franchise?
Crennel: It's always tough when you're trying to build something. In today's society everybody wants it done yesterday, but if you're going to build a quality product it takes some time to put it together. I think that's what we are trying to get done in Cleveland, a quality product, and I think we're well on the way to turning it around. Some of the progress we accomplished in the first couple of years, that didn't show up in the won-loss column, they began to show this year in the won-loss column. We've got a good foundation in place, so as a result of it we'll be able to be competitive for a long time.
WPI: There's a lot that goes into the NFL draft and the combine, but how important is it to see players here in practice at the Senior Bowl?
Crennel: It's really important here at the Senior Bowl because they have pads on and they hit at practice. You see how a guy works, how he competes, because everyone is watching. If a guy can do it in this venue, chances are he can do it in an NFL game or training camp. We're looking at the guys who compete and have some explosion and ability. When they catch your eye, you jot their name down, and you know you have to do more work on them, but that's a start.
WPI: How do you evaluate the guys that might get the deer in the headlights look out here among all the NFL scouts and coaches?
Crennel: You feel like because they're here, they have enough ability that they can play for somebody in the NFL. What you're doing is trying to find that little something that tells you this guy can fit, whether it's the way he separates from blocks, his second effort on a block, how he goes after the ball. Does he look it in? All of those little things like that. If you can see one gleam from a guy, then you do more homework on him and that will let you know whether he can fit in your program or not.
WPI: How prepared for the NFL are modern players compared to your era of college football?
Crennel: The philosophy of the college game has changed a little bit in the fact that colleges are dropping back and throwing the ball more. Many of them are in the shotgun and throwing the ball, so that kind of plays into the NFL system a little bit right there. Offenses are spreading the field and trying to isolate guys, and that's what we do in the NFL, we try to isolate guys and get matchups.
As a result of that, when guys get to this level they are more prepared than they used to be because college used to be two-back, running game, play-action passing game, mobile quarterbacks. Mobile quarterbacks are still important, but the dropback game and being able to read defenses, read coverages and find those matchups that helps guys as they get ready to take the next step.
WPI: What do you think of the Patriots and your old head coach, Bill Belichick?
Crennel: The Patriots season in itself, going undefeated in the regular season and still being undefeated as they go into the Super Bowl, that is hard to do. That's really hard to do, so you've got to take your hat off to that team. The leadership that Bill provides, the veterans they have on the team, he's put a very good team together.
When I say team, I think it is a team. You take a Randy Moss, who is used to getting the ball, he makes one catch in a game but Kevin Faulk makes the other catches and they all pull for each other. As a coach, that's what you want. You want your team to be a team, so I think they've done a really good job of making those guys a team and it's shown up now that they are undefeated and playing in the Super Bowl.
I believe it's going to be a really good game. Who's gonna win? I don't know, because on any given Sunday, you know how that goes, but I think it's going to be a good game. The Giants have a lot of confidence going into the game because of the way they played them in the last game of the regular season. The Giants are now undefeated on the road or something like that so I think it's going to be a really good football game that everyone will enjoy watching.
The Giants were able to play with the Patriots in that last game of the regular season, so that showed them if we can play with an undefeated team, one of the best in the NFL, we deserve to be where we are. That's their mindset going into the Super Bowl
One on One: Romeo Crennel
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