BEREA,OH - Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski introduced his newest addition to his coaching staff today when he welcomed Ray Horton as the teams new Defensive Coordinator.
"I'm absolutely excited to be here" were the first words out of Horton's mouth. Horton spent last season in Arizona as the Cardinals Defensive Coordinator.
Horton guided a defensive unit that led the NFL in passer rating allowed (71.2) and interception percentage (4.4%). His defense also ranked second in the NFL in interceptions (22) and third-down efficiency (32.9%), third in red zone defense (44.4%) and fourth in takeaways (33). The defense also ranked fifth in passing defense (200.8 ypg), first downs allowed (288) and points allowed per drive (1.42).
Prior to his time in Arizona, Horton spent seven seasons (2004-10) as the defensive backs/assistant defensive backs coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers. During his tenure in Pittsburgh, he helped the Steelers defense rank in the top 10 in the NFL in total defense each season, including leading the NFL on three occasions (2004, '07-08). Horton was pivotal in the development of Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, as he was selected to six consecutive Pro Bowls (2005-10), named a first-team All-Pro three times (2005, 2008, 2010) and was voted as the 2010 AP Defensive Player of the Year.
The Browns interviewed Horton for the teams head coaching position before hiring Chudzinski, Horton said he was not bitter about not getting hired by the teams he interviewed with but instead called it " A great opportunity to get in front of owners and GM's and go thru the process"
Chudzinski said he doesn't feel Horton will be in Cleveland for the short term after coming close to landing a head coaching gig, instead he said " You want to hire the best people for the right position and if they are doing a good job then they will have opportunities to advance up the latter"
The biggest concern is how will the Browns look on defense next season. Horton runs a 3-4 defense which the Browns ran under former head coach Eric Mangini. Last year the team ran a 4-3 defense but Horton does not feel it will be a big transition or a step back stating. " Just give me big men that can run and little men that can hit, if you give me those two things will be a good defense"
Horton mentioned several players on the Browns current roster and feels the team has the talent in place to make a smooth transition to a new defense next season. Horton brings an attacking style defense that will have multiple looks, "We are going to be a defense that gives offenses problems" Horton said when asked about his 'Hybrid" style of defense. Chudzinski said Horton's defense was a "Nightmare" to try and scheme against because you never knew what was coming. Horton said " We are going to be a team that looks at the offense and trys to take away what they do best".
Horton began his coaching career in Washington, where he served as assistant defensive backs/defensive assistant for three seasons (1994-96). He then made two stops as defensive backs coach with the Cincinnati Bengals (1997-2001) and Detroit Lions (2002-03), before landing in Pittsburgh.
A second-round selection (53 rd overall) by Cincinnati in the 1983 NFL Draft, Horton appeared in 147 games with 99 starts with the Bengals (1983-88) and Dallas Cowboys (1989-92). Over the course of his career, he notched 19 interceptions, 11 fumble recoveries, five forced fumbles and scored five defensive touchdowns. He also made two Super Bowl appearances, playing in Super Bowl XXIII with Cincinnati and winning Super Bowl XXVII with Dallas.
A three-year letterman (1980-82) as a defensive back at the University of Washington, Horton earned All-Pac 10 honors and played in two Rose Bowls. A native of Tacoma, Washington, he attended Mount Tacoma High School where he was an All-American. He is married (Karena) and has a daughter, Taylor and a son, Jarren.