PATRIOTS REPORT: The Crennel Watch

<p>The Cleveland Browns have a job opening. The San Francisco 49ers have a job opening. The question is, where will Romeo Crennel, the New England Patriots defensive coordinator end up?</p> <p>Patriots Insider staff bring you the latest news on Crennel's interviews, what they're thinking in Cleveland and what some of the rumors are on the west coast.</p>

PATRIOTS REPORT: The Crennel Watch
News and Notes on the progress of Romeo Crennel's job hunt.
By Patriots Insider Staff

The Cleveland Browns may be taking a serious look at Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel as a potential candidate for their open head coaching position. The Browns lost their head coach Butch Davis when he abruptly resigned mid season, forcing them to complete their season with Interim coach Terry Robiskie.

Crennel who has spent time with the Browns in 2000 as the defensive coordinator on former Browns coach Chris Palmer's staff, is familiar with the area, the team and the long tradition of football in Cleveland. In a recent press conference, Crennel indicated his interest in the position.

While football excellence in Cleveland has been missing in recent years, make no mistake that Browns organization wants a winner on the lake. Owner Randy Lerner's late father, Al, originally purchased the expansion version of the team from the NFL for a cost of nearly $550 Million dollars. The new Browns debuted in 1999. The senior Lerner was a minority owner with Art Modell before Modell moved the team to Baltimore and renamed them the Ravens.

Crennel's job would be a sizable task. Not only would he have to deal with the current makeup of the team, he would have to find a way to temper fans expectations while he builds a winner. Browns fans have become impatient, and Crennel or any new coach, may not get a long leash to turn things around.

While the Browns have a relatively decent defense with a number of talented players (Courtney Brown, Kenard Lang, Anthony Henry), they have not been able to avoid the injury bug. Having 3 former first round picks on the defensive line, coupled with drafting players who have underachieved, the Browns defense has not lived up to expectations. What the defense does have going for it, is Browns current coordinator Dave Campo, a native New Englander and former head coach of his own (Dallas Cowboys).

On offense, Crennel may have to call his cohort on the offensive side of the ball (Charlie Weis) for advice. The Browns offense has been terrible recently, with QB Jeff Garcia calling the system "Predictable" and saying "everyone knows what we're going to do..".

The Brown offense has consistently finished in the bottom half of the league in each year they've been back since 1999. Aside from the high scoring shoot-out at Pittsburgh in the playoffs, the Offense has been unable to generate any consistent momentum.

Crennel had an interview with the Browns on Friday, and another with the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday. According to his agent, and local reports in the media, that interview went well, and Crennel may be the leading candidate for the job in Cleveland.

Craig Massei, SF Illustrated chimes on on how Crennel's 6-hour interview went with the Niners on Saturday. "Rave reviews for Romeo"

ESPN's Chris Mortensen is also reporting that Crennel is the leading candidate for the job in Cleveland: ESPN Wire Report. Citing league sources, Nick Cafardo and Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe are reporting;

A league source attending yesterday's Indianapolis-Denver game indicated Crennel "just blew away" the Cleveland front office during his interview Friday, and a six-hour interview with the 49ers late Friday and early Saturday also left officials from that team impressed.

"His stock skyrocketed with the Cleveland people," said the league official, who has knowledge of the interview. "At this point, I'd be very surprised if Romeo doesn't emerge as a head coach after his season is over."

The Browns may not be able to afford to wait that long for Crennel. With the recent hiring of former Raven's GM Phil Savage, also a Browns former employee, the Browns may or may not be willing to wait for Crennel to become available.

And according to sources who are closely following the Situation the Browns have more than one candidate in the ring. On a recent Ask The Insiders discussion, the very subject of Mortensen's report came up.

JB42776: ESPN news is reporting that Romeo is the favorite for the browns job. Is this true? If so when will he be offered and who are his potential assistants?

Lane Adkins and other Insiders give the rest of the story: ATI Highlights: Weekend Edition. (Note: premium content access required)

Suffice it to say, Lane and the other "insiders" are tracking all developments closely and provide a lot of coverage the local Media hasn't or cannot report.

The real challenge for whomever gets the job in Cleveland, is to bring some of the magic the Patriots seems to have captured back to the Midwest. Browns fans, some of the most passionate in all of NFL, are desperate for a winner, and Crennel as any candidate, will be heavily scrutinized should he get the job.

The question is... Does Romeo Crennel, 57 years young, 30+ years in the league have what it takes to put the kind of time in to a franchise that so desperately wants to win? Whether it's in San Francisco or Cleveland, Crennel's job will be to turn around former once proud franchises for fan bases tired of the rebuilding process.

The Browns brain trust will make a decision once they complete their interview process. For a list of possible Cleveland coaching candidates, check out BerniesInsiders report The Candidates. In other news, Alternates to Crennel have emerged and one who deserves additional consideration in their report is Russ Grimm, the Steelers assistant head coach. The latest Bernie's report has more this development. "Coachwatch: Grimm Saturday".

To follow Crennel's progress in San Francisco, be sure to follow SF Illustrated reports.

If all goes well, Crennel could be offered a job after the Patriots conclude their season, whether that's next week or after. In the meantime, he will be studying, and preparing for the Indianapolis Colts who the Patriots will face in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs.

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