After being passed over several times, Romeo Crennel finally landed an NFL head coaching job. Now, the architect of the New England Patriots' championship defense has a new project -- rebuild the last-place Cleveland Browns.
Crennel broke ground this offseason by completely overhauling the defensive line. The Browns had the NFL's worst run defense (144.6 yards per game) in 2004, so Crennel got rid of defensive linemen Courtney Brown, Gerard Warren, Michael Myers and Ebenezer Ekuban. He also brought the 3-4 defense from New England and shifted defensive end Kenard Lang to linebacker.
"We have faith that [the 3-4] is going to work because we've seen it work and [Crennel] made it work," Lang said this summer. "We just have to grasp it and run with it."
Orpheus Roye, Alvin McKinley and free agent acquisition Jason Fisk (San Diego) started a combined 17 games in 2004, and they are penciled in as starters on the defensive front.
Crennel's changes didn't stop with the defensive line, though. Gone from the NFL's fifth-best pass defense are safety Robert Griffith and cornerback Anthony Henry. Free agents safety Brian Russell (Minnesota) and cornerback Gary Baxter (Baltimore) take their places.
The Browns' offense, which ranked 28th overall last season, needed some upgrades, too. New starting quarterback Trent Dilfer replaces Jeff Garcia and Kelly Holcomb. Wide receiver Braylon Edwards, the third overall draft pick, has been impressive.