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Romeo Crennel Press Conf. Transcript - 8/28/2003

Crennel: We wanted to emphasize fundamentals and try to build a good foundation... The kids have taken to it very well.



**Q: How has the defense progressed since the fourteenth of July to now?

RC:** I think we made good progress. We wanted to emphasize fundamentals and try to build a good foundation, and that's they way we approached it. The kids have taken to it very well. I think going into this game last night, there was good evidence of it: guys playing together, playing good fundamental, technique. I think we slipped up a little bit last night. Short week. Some distractions. Those kind of things and we didn't play, particularly in the first half, the way we are capable of playing.

**Q: Has Asante Samuel shown you a lot for being a fourth round pick?

RC:** He's done a nice job for us to this point. I think that all of our young kids have done a nice job. With young kids, they are that. They are young and they don't have the experience that some veterans do. We are still waiting to see what's going to happen. Hopefully they will continue to progress and they will continue to make plays and get better so that they can be an asset to the team.

**Q: Mike Vrabel has a different role this year. He's gotten a lot of pressure on quarterback? Do you see generally the pressure on quarterback being better this year and specifically Mike being more of a factor?

RC:** Well I hope Mike is more of a factor. As a linebacker in the 3-4, he has an opportunity to rush from time to time and he's taken advantage of those opportunities and been able to get the edge some. I think that that's a good thing. When you talk about his role being a little bit different, I think probably he is not behind the line as much as he was last year. You know that when you put linebackers behind the line most of the time they are in coverage, whereas up on the line he has a chance to rush. He's got good ability. He has some pass rush ability, so when we do rush him, he's able to get the edge. We feel good about him.

**Q: How big of a difference do you think Ted Washington will make in the regular season in this defense, versus the nose tackle by committee which you started with? And do you have concerns about his ability to stay healthy? Is there any reason to have more concerns about his ability to stay healthy than other players given his age and his size?

RC:** Not necessarily. We've got one or two players who have some experience and age on this team, and they've been able to stay pretty healthy. You take a Roman Phifer who is similar age. Roman last year played just about every defensive play for us and played some special teams. I think that Ted having played for 12, 13 years, he has a track record of being able to stay on the field. I know he was hurt a little bit last year and hopefully that does not manifest itself this year. We anticipate that he'll be able to play and stay on the field and be a good asset to the team.

**Q: If you could draw-up a specific guy, would he be the ideal guy for that position?

RC:** He's pretty decent. Yeah. You never know who the ideal guy is because over the years, I have had several different type players play the nose spot. The fact that he is durable, he's strong, he has some size, and it's hard to knock him off the ball helps in that position. But you always still have to go out and you have to play the game. One of the things about Ted is Ted has had some experience playing the position. He's done it when he was up at Buffalo, they were playing the same type system. Having that experience in that system is a valuable thing for us.

**Q: Jarvis Green was a converted end? Did you find that he was not really suited for nose tackle?

RC:** Not necessarily. I think in this business, you are always looking for personnel. It's always out there. If something comes available you think is good for your team, you take advantage of it. So when it was available that we were able to get Ted [Washington], because of his experience at that position, we feel that now we were able to take Jarvis and move Jarvis back to the end spot and let him get some reps out there. I think going into the season, Jarvis will be working at end and also some at nose still. Knock wood, hopefully Ted is able to play all the time, but in this business you never know, so you always have some one else ready to go if the guy who is starting, something happens.

**Q: How tough was it to say good bye to Otis Smith?

RC:** Otis…we had been with Otis a long time and Otis is a good person as well as being a good player for us. He's done a lot for us, a couple of different teams. I really haven't said goodbye to Otis. I know Otis is not on the team with us, but Otis is still a friend. We'll talk on the telephone from time to time. We both understand and realize that a part of this business is personnel changeover and turnover. Otis has had a good career. I think he'll tell you that himself, but at his particular time it was time for us to make a change; so we decided to do that.

**Q: Speaking of making a change, you had an opportunity to go out to San Francisco for the head coaching job. How long did it take for you to get past any disappointment you might have had for not getting that job and where are you at now in terms of it?

RC:** That experience was a great experience for me, so the fact that I didn't get the job was not necessarily disappointing because I looked at it as an asset. Just having that experience. And I will learn from that experience. If I have a chance to get another interview, hopefully I'll do a better job in the next one. That's the way I looked at it. Now, I didn't get that job so I better do a good job at the one I have. That's my philosophy.

**Q: What did they tell you? Why weren't you the guy?

RC:** They didn't give a particular reason about why I wasn't the guy. They just told me they were looking at several candidates and that I was going to be in the running. After the interview, Mr. [Terry] Donahue took some time to evaluate his candidates and he decided some other guys were more suited for the second interview, so he chose those guys and that's his purgative. That decision-making that he's got to do, he's got to do what he feels like is best for his team. So he did and I'm trying to get better here.

**Q: A lot of time when the head coach has an offensive background, when people in the media talk or write about his defense they give credit to the defensive coordinator. Around here a lot of times you don't get maybe as much credit as you deserve, certainly publicly, because of the fact that Bill [Belichick] is perceived as this great defensive coach with his own background. You are a human being, how tough is that? Everybody has an ego. How tough is that, to deal with the fact that around here you probably publicly will never get the credit that you deserve?

RC:** Well that's a two-way street, because sometimes when things go bad I might not want the credit. I understand the question. I think that we've been together a long time. I work with Bill and we've always had a team structure and really it didn't make any difference who got the credit as long as the team won. Fortunately over the years we've been able to win as a result of that. We all have egos like you say, but if we can win, it doesn't make any difference who gets the credit. Because if we win, everybody looks good. He looks good. I look good. The players look good. Winning is the bottom line. If we can win, whoever gets the credit, gets the credit.

**Q: Do you think you are to [Bill] Belichick what Belichick was to [Bill] Parcells? Is that a fair analogy?

RC:** I don't know that that's a fair analogy. I don't know that I've been in this position long enough to be able to say that yet. I think that if more water goes under this bridge and we can continue to win some games, then maybe it will come to that.

**Q: The rookie corners. Is it your experience that the good ones that make great progress, do they eventually hit some kind of wall?

RC:** Rookies in general hit a wall after about the tenth game because they aren't use to the extra games that we have to play. They've gone through training camp. Then they go through ten regular season games. Mentally they are ready to lay off and their seasons are over in college. But now they still have six more games to go, at least six more, hopefully more, that they have to be able to push through. I've found that if you are still winning, you are still in the playoff hunt at that time, it's easier for younger players to push through mentally. If you are not in the playoff hunt, your team is not doing as well, then that wall becomes a really strong wall. We as coaches have to try to push them through it then.

**Q: What do you do? Do you back off of it at all? Or do you push them a little more?

RC:** I think you have to continue to put the pressure on them because we are in a pressure situation. Every time they go out there on Sunday, it's pressure. You have to look at where your team is and whether you need to back off from the physical standpoint or not. But the mental stress is always there.

**Q: Both rookie corners, particularly [Asante] Samuel, seem to have a nose for the ball. Is that something that you can teach? Or is that something that is inherent?

RC:** It's a combination of both, because some players do have a nose for the ball. I think both of these young kids have that nose. Somewhere along the line it's been taught, along with their instincts for the ball, and hopefully we can continue to develop that instinct because sometimes the ball just comes to them. When I was with the Giants, George Martin was a defensive lineman, and the ball seemed to come to him. Fumble recoveries, interceptions or whatever. But if you can get that with a corner than you can feel pretty good about it.

**Q: In this incarnation in Dallas, Parcells isn't able or hasn't been able to hire some of the kind of top people he has had in the past. How do you think he'll do in Dallas?

RC:** Bill is Bill. I think Bill will put pressure on the players, put pressure on the coaches, and his track record says that he's going to get it done. Now how long that takes? I'm not sure. Only time will tell that, but he knows the game. He knows players. I anticipate that he'll have a good run down there.

**Q: Have you had a chance to talk to him at all, since he started down there? Are you still friendly?

RC:** We're still friendly, but not in an extended amount of time. Usually it's, 'Hi. How you doing? What's going on?' that kind of thing, and it's been awhile since I've spoken with him.

**Q: How are Rodney Harrison and Lawyer [Milloy] meshing together? At the start of camp, Rodney…both of them admitted that sometimes they were stepping on each other's toes a little bit.

RC:** I think they are growing within the system and becoming more comfortable with each other. To the point where they are beginning to feed off of each other a little bit. I think it's a good competition and it's good to have to experienced guys back there who are physical kinds of guys, like they are.

**Q: You have no qualms about…when Rodney came in here the question a lot of people had was coverage in the deep middle. You have no concerns about that?

RC:** I really have no concerns about it because who ever we put back there, we have to play with. If the deep middle is a major concern, then I will try to keep him out of the deep middle. But both of these guys have played football for a long time and both of them have had to cover the deep middle. I don't know how extensively they have had to cover the deep middle, but they have had to cover the middle and so they know what they have to do back there. As a safety, if you do have the deep middle, if you remember you have the deep middle and get deep, you have a chance. It's just when you are short in the deep middle that it becomes a problem

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