CLEVELAND - Willie McGinest always believed Romeo Crennel would turn the Cleveland Browns into winners.
For a long time, though, it seemed like the veteran linebacker was about the only one who did.
'There was a lot of prejudgment about Romeo,' said McGinest, who played for Crennel in New England. 'And it was really unfair. It takes time. It takes players, and it takes a coach to do that.'
Crennel did it.
The 60-year-old former defensive assistant, whose future in Cleveland was shaky after two forgettable seasons, signed a two-year contract extension Tuesday with the Browns, who won 10 games in Crennel's third season and finally appear repaired.
Crennel had two years remaining on the five-year deal he signed in February 2005. The extension, believed to be worth about $4 million per season, takes Crennel through the 2011 season.
The Browns were one of the NFL's surprise teams in 2007. One season after going 4-12, they went 10-6, won a franchise-record seven home games and only missed the AFC playoffs because of a tiebreaker.
'From where we came from last year and where we are now is impressive,' McGinest said. 'But it's only a small indication of what's to come. Romeo has always been a winning coach from a winning organization, and that's what he's doing here.'
Crennel's extension was not a surprise. General manager Phil Savage was pleased with Crennel's performance and immediately following the season said the club would reward the coach's efforts.
Savage and agent Joe Linta have been in on-going talks the past two weeks, but neither side felt any urgency to finalize the deal.
However, recent two-year extensions given to offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker - he replaced Todd Grantham, fired on Jan. 11 - sped up the Browns' timetable to get something completed with Crennel.