October 22, 2014

Elyria
Mostly clear
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Crennel knows his job is at stake

Browns coach Romeo Crennel was back in his element Friday because his team was back on the field. The start of training camp tends to make everyone around the NFL feel young again, but there was an unmistakable spring in the
60-year-old’s step.
“He’s out there stretching with us, working out alongside the guys,’’ wide receiver Joshua Cribbs said. “It’s great to see. We love having him around.’’
Though Cleveland won’t play a game that counts until Sept. 9, there is already a buzz about this year’s team. It starts at the top, where Crennel appears refreshed and ready to see just how good his squad can be.
“We’re excited about it,” he said. “Coaches, players, everybody is excited. We’ve finally got an opportunity to go out on the field and play real football. We’re ready to start putting this team together.’’
For Crennel’s sake, the Browns had better come together quickly.
After two less-than-successful seasons in Cleveland, his third year here could be his last. Crennel’s tenuous job status was one of the league’s most popular topics during the spring, only getting pushed to the background when the Browns drafted glamour boy quarterback Brady Quinn.
Fittingly, considering Crennel’s star-crossed stay on the North Coast, Quinn is holding out of camp instead of helping to save his coach’s job.
“It’s like I tell the guys, ‘Control what you can control, and the other things, don’t worry about it,’” the man better known as RAC said. “That’s all you can do.’’
Being on the hot seat can’t be comfortable for Crennel, not after 27 years in the league and six trips to the Super Bowl as an assistant. He waited more than two decades to get his first head coaching job, only to have to rebuild the ruins of Butch Davis’ reign when he finally got one.
Now, though, it’s time for him to produce wins.
Every Browns player knows it, as does everyone who follows the team. Crennel’s uncertain future is hanging over the team’s Berea headquarters like a storm cloud.
“We want to win for our owner (Randy Lerner) and Coach Crennel. We got his back, too,’’ quarterback Charlie Frye said in an unsolicited show of support. “The one goal we all have this year is no excuses, just win.’’
Frankly, Crennel wouldn’t want it any other way.
He expects the best from himself, just as he does from his players. If you don’t perform, there is always someone else waiting to prove they can.
“This is a competition business,’’ Crennel said. “That’s a good thing because competition makes you better.’’
Shortly thereafter, he ended his opening day press conference by laughing and saying, “Hey, this is a good start.’’
If there is any justice in pro football, Crennel’s “good start’’ will lead to an even better finish.
Contact Brian Dulik at sports@ohio.net.