Sunday’s game a homecoming for Crennel

Romeo Crennel (left) lead the Cleveland Browns as head coach from 2005-08.

Troy Taormina/Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday’s Cleveland Browns-Houston Texans game brings a visit from an old friend. 

Former Browns head coach Romeo Crennel is the Texans defensive coordinator under first-year head coach Bill O’Brien.

"I think the world of Romeo," O’Brien said. "He’s done a great job here. He has a ton of experience. He’s got a unique ability to motivate the players and teach the players. It’s just been good to have him here. 

"He’s sat in this chair as a head coach, and he’s done a good job with our defense. We’re a defense that has been opportunistic. I think we have 21 takeaways, which is good. I think he’s done a good job, and he’s got a good staff. He’s got a really good staff of guys underneath him on defense that have all worked well together."

Crennel, 67, was out of football last season after two seasons as Kansas City Chiefs head coach. He was fired by the Chiefs following the 2012 season, less than a month after he and then-Chiefs general manager witnessed linebacker Jovan Belcher commit suicide in the parking lot of the team’s training facility. 

Crennel was the Browns coach from 2005-08. He had been Browns defensive coordinator in 2000 before winning three Super Bowls in four years as defensive coordinator in New England. He was Chiefs defensive coordinator in 2009-10 before becoming head coach. 

This marks his 32nd year of coaching in the NFL.

Browns-Texans

"I’m excited to see Romeo," Browns left tackle Joe Thomas said. "I have a lot of respect for him."

Thomas is the only player still on the Browns roster from Crennel’s time in Cleveland. Thomas was a first-round pick for the 2007 Browns team that went 10-6 but narrowly missed the playoffs. 

For the first time since that year, Thomas and the Browns are contending in November. 

"It’s great," Thomas said. "[The last few years] we were showing up for work, week in and week out, knowing essentially that the season is over and you’re just putting in time. The reason you play the sport is to get to the postseason and win Super Bowls and it’s nice to know that it’s still out there and we’re still working toward that goal."