The Houston Texans have been making a multitude of appearances around the lead up to Super Bowl weekend amid an interesting week concerning the team's early off-season news. The Texans made some changes on the defensive side of the football, primarily the promotions of Romeo Crennel and Mike Vrabel to their new positions, but also the team also the promotion of new linebacker coach Tim Kelly.
“Both of them did a great job. They deserve to be promoted and it is a promotion for both of them,” team owner Bob McNair said of Crennel and Vrabel.
McNair continued on Crennel, “Well, Romeo did a wonderful job this year. If anyone had asked us at the beginning of the year if J.J. (Watt) is not there, what kind of defense do you think you would have? I would have said I think we’re going to have a good defense, but it’s not going to be great.”
At his Gatorade GX event in Houston, J.J. Watt offered his glowing assessment of Crennel. “I mean, as a player, you couldn’t ask for really a better situation. Romeo Crennel is one of the best guys I’ve ever been around."
As for new linebackers coach Tim Kelly, Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus was just as excited for Kelly to take over the linebackers.
“I am pretty excited about that, keeping some of the same guys for sure because we have already built that chemistry,” Mercilus said of Kelly’s promotion.
The biggest change is Vrabel taking over the defense. The unit will be given the task to continue to build on the top defense in the NFL from 2016 heading into his first season as a coordinator.
Vrabel’s move to defensive coordinator was met with enthusiasm from Mercilus. “He is a great coach and understands the game whole lot and deserves the promotion no doubt.”
“Honestly, he helped me grow as a player from a mental aspect. I already had the physical traits and athletic ability and all that and didn’t know how to put it together yet,” Mercilus stated. “I was always thinking too much, it was always between the ears. So for him to come in and coach me up helped me a lot.
Watt echoed the same sentiment of Vrabel taking over the defense.
“I think he’s very, very qualified for the job. I mean he’s extremely smart. He’s one of the smartest football minds I’ve been around. He’s an extremely hard worker. Obviously, had a lot of success both as a player and as a coach.”
McNair likes the fact that Vrabel and Crennel have the ability to develop young talent. Keeping them both in the organization was a priority for the owner heading into the 2017 season.
“We progressed during the season and stopped the opponent’s run game. Early on, we were having a little difficulty with it, but I mean that’s just good coaching. That’s what you want,” McNair said of the defense in 2016. “This league you have to work with young players. You can’t keep a bunch of valuable veterans around because they’re too expensive. So, you have to bring these young guys along.”
Watt appreciates the fact the Texans found a way to keep both Crennel and Vrabel on the coaching staff and likes the current set up of the defensive staff.
“So, really fortunate to be able to still have him (Crennel) around and to have a guy like Mike Vrabel be your defensive coordinator. So, we’re in a really good spot.”
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