Texans look for 1st win of season after O'Brien's firing
HOUSTON (AP) - The Bill O’Brien era is over in Houston, and now it is up to Romeo Crennel to help the Texans turn this terrible season around.
O'Brien was sacked as coach and general manager on Monday after the Texans fell 4-0 for the first time since 2008 with a loss to the Vikings last weekend. Team owner Cal McNair then made Crennel the team's interim coach for the remainder of the season.
Crennel has been an assistant to O’Brien since 2014 and has coached both the Browns and Chiefs over a 50-year NFL and college career. He doesn't promise a miraculous change on Sunday when the Texans host the Jaguars (1-3), but he has some expectations for his team.
"I hope our attitude and energy are different and then I hope our performance is different," he said.
Aside from improving their mindset, Crennel believes the biggest problem for the Texans this season has been the inconsistency of what he's focusing on this week.
"There are times when we do what we're supposed to do and we look good," said Crennel. “Then when we try to make a piece we're trying to do too much and that opens seams. Then we look bad. "
"My goal is to make us look good more consistently," he said. "Then I think that gives us a chance to be in the game and win."
Star Defensive End J.J. Watt did not want to deal with reports that he had an oral argument with O'Brien at the office two weeks ago. But he said he thought a team with Deshaun Watson at quarterback needed a change after starting 4-0.
"I appreciate and respect what we had," said Watt. "We won four championship titles with Bill in six years ... but this year we're obviously 4-0 and it didn't work." If you've got the talent we have, especially in the quarterback position in this league, you can't be 0-4. "
Then he raved about the “positive air” Crennel brings to work every day.
"You can't help but smile when you have a conversation with RAC," said Watt. "I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do and what he brings to our team. It should be fun."
At 73, Crennel will be the oldest coach in NFL history when the Texans step on the field on Sunday and pass Hall of Famer George Halas, who was 72 in his last game with Bears in 1967. Crennel chuckled when he found out about it. He really didn't think much about his place in history, with everything else on his plate this week.
"I'm just a football coach and I like to train. That's why I still train," he said. "So I'm just going to try to improve this team and win a football game."
Jaguar manager Doug Marrone is not expecting any major changes among the Texans under Crennel as Houston offensive coordinator Tim Kelly and defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver remain. But he believes the winless Texans will have a chip on their shoulders after O'Brien's release.
"People start to look and say, 'Hey, we have to improve our game," he said. "Usually you get the best performance from a team."
The jaguars are without Nickel Cornerback D.J. Hayden (hamstring) causing some shuffling in defensive high school and leaving the unit with even less experience.
Third year pro Tre Herndon is expected to fill Hayden's role in handing over Downs, bringing rookie Chris Claybrooks or newcomer Sidney Jones to the field versus rookie CJ Henderson.
Jacksonville would be even younger in secondary school if Andrew Wingard started his fourth straight game for the sophomore year. But Jarrod Wilson (thigh) was activated from the injured reserve and was able to return against the Texans.
Stop the run
If the Texans are to win on Sunday they have to find a way to stop the run. They start the week with the worst run defense in the NFL, allowing 181.8 yards per game.
Improvement was a focus for Crennel this week.
"I have to put them on the tape if they get it right, we'll get a stop or the guy will win 1 yard instead of 15," he said. "I have evidence on tape that if things are done right, we can stop the run."
But what has not happened so far is what upset Watt, a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. According to Watt, Crennel's coaching style is to encourage players to focus on the little things and he hopes this will help them stop the run for good on Sunday.
"It doesn't have to be elaborate and beautiful," he said. “He just wants it to be done right. We do that. It's a bit of a simplification. Just to do your job and get it right and do it well. "
Sad sack jags
Perhaps Houston will help Jacksonville resolve its Pass Rush issues. The Jaguars have four sacks in as many games, rank 29th in the league for sacks per pass attempt, and struggled to reach Cincinnati newcomer Joe Burrow last week.
Jacksonville has sacked Watson 12 times in their last four games.
AP Pro Football Writer Mark Long contributed to this report.
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