By Tony Grossi
The Browns’ naming of Ray Horton as defensive coordinator likely means an overhaul of their defensive system to a 3-4 alignment. Which means they better start looking now for two pass-rush linebackers.
In two years as Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator, Horton tried to emulate the Dick LeBeau defense he learned in seven seasons as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Like LeBeau, Horton loves bringing pressure from all angles – a stark departure from the 4-3 defense coordinated by Dick Jauron the past two years.
In 2012, Horton’s defense led the NFL in lowest passer rating allowed (71.2) and was second in interceptions (22) and third-down efficiency (32.9 percent).
The Cardinals ranked 12th overall in yards, 28th against the run, fifth v. the pass and 17th in points allowed.
The Browns under Jauron were 23rd overall, 19th against the run, 25th v. the pass and 19th in points.
At his introduction as Browns coach on Monday, Chudzinski would not commit to preferring a 3-4 or a 4-3, but said his choice of coordinator would decide it. Chudzinski made no mention of the defense’s direction in a statement released upon Horton’s hiring.
“We are truly excited that we were able to get someone of Ray’s caliber as our defensive coordinator,” Chudzinski said. “He possesses a great deal of experience as a player, position coach and coordinator in the NFL and has been part of some of the top defenses in the league throughout his career. He is an extremely talented coach and I know that he will work very well with the young nucleus of players we have on defense.”
Horton was actually interviewed by the Browns for their head coach position, which put them in compliance of the NFL Rooney Rule. He also was interviewed by the Cardinals to succeed fired Ken Whisenhunt, but was passed over for Bruce Arians as his replacement. Horton was unhappy with the way things ended and was granted his release from his contract in Arizona.
A source said Jauron was not notified of his firing prior to the Browns’ announcement of Horton.
|Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com. |
He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
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