Romeo Crennel believes Texans have 'ability' to get back into playoff hunt

Romeo Crennel will become the oldest person to serve as a head coach in NFL history Sunday when his Texans face the Jaguars.

Age is but a number, some say, and Crennel, 73, believes the same about the Texans' current place in the standings.

"I think (we) have the ability and we can start winning," Crennel said of his team, via the Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson. "Outlooks can change. Only time will tell."

Houston is in desperate need of such a change after fighting through an unenviable opening slate that included games against Kansas City, Baltimore and Pittsburgh, and coming out of it 0-4. Former head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien was fired following the Texans' fourth loss, in which the team showed its glaring issues -- most notably when it comes to the running game.

Houston is dead last in the NFL in rushing yards and also in run defense, a nightmarish formula for a concoction no one wants to drink. But Crennel, owner of a prolific history as a defensive coach and coordinator, sees evidence of his team's turnaround not being far away. They're capable of stopping the run, he believes, but just need to make their occasional stops more frequent.

"The thing I have to do is show them on the tape when they do it correctly and we get a stop," he explained Wednesday. "I have evidence of that on tape that when done correctly we can stop the run. I think that gives me encouragement because I see they can do it."

The Texans are in need of said encouragement after a start that would leave most anyone frustrated and disappointed. No longer is Houston a franchise that overachieved thanks to its defense, despite its situation under center. These Texans have their franchise man and simply aren't playing quality football.

"It's worn on them (players' emotions)," Crennel said. "The expectations (are) we're a playoff team and want to play playoff-caliber football and we haven't been doing that and that's why we're 0-4."

The 0-4 start cost their former coach and GM his job, a termination that can be justified by pointing to the fashion in which Houston -- a Divisional Round participant last season -- has carried itself on the field. In a season in which the Texans were expected to contend with the conference's best, they've looked nothing of the sort.

The selection of Crennel as Houston's interim head coach is interesting, though, because this isn't his first stint as a team's interim head man. Crennel stepped in to replace Todd Haley in Kansas City in 2011, leading the Chiefs to a 2-1 mark in their final three games and proving enough to ownership to get the full-time job the following season.

But as a legitimate head coach -- something he'll be more of this go-around with 12 games left -- he doesn't have a great record. Ten of his 28 career wins came in a single season, 2007, when he was in Cleveland. The season in which he served as Kansas City's legitimate head coach saw the Chiefs finish 2-14 (which led to the hiring of Andy Reid, and the rest is history).

The dozen remaining games leave plenty of time to attempt to salvage this season. Houston will need a shift in approach, which hopefully is spurred by the new-but-familiar face manning the Texans' sideline.

"I hope our attitude and energy is different," Crennel said. "I hope our performance is different. You're not going to come in and put in a new offense or defense overnight."

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