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Horton introduced as defensive coordinator

Posted Jan 29, 2013

Ray Horton was introduced as the new defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns on Tuesday.

New Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton was introduced on Tuesday morning and spoke of his plans to install an attacking defense when he switches the team from a base 4-3 to a multi-front scheme.

“I don’t really care what we are on defense; I care about what we look like,” Horton said. “I want to look like an aggressive, forward, attacking defense that has big men that can run and little men that can hit. I’ve seen that on tape, and that’s the most important thing to me.

“We are a multi-front, attacking defense, and that’s the most important thing. I’ve been in the airport in Cleveland, been around the city, met season-ticket holders. I’ve had baggage handlers say, ‘We’re excited to have this group of men here leading the Cleveland Browns.’ I’m excited about the fans’ excitement of the Cleveland Browns.”

Horton, Arizona’s defensive coordinator from 2011-12, comes to Cleveland after a 2012 season which saw the Cardinals lead the NFL in passer efficiency allowed (71.2), and interception percentage (4.4%). The Cardinals also ranked among the NFL’s best in interceptions (second with 22), third-down efficiency (second at 32.9%), red zone defense (third at 44.4%), and takeaways (fourth with 33). Arizona also was a top-five team in passing defense, first downs, and points allowed per drive.

Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said he was “extremely excited” to add Horton, and his nearly 20 years as an NFL coach, to the Cleveland coaching staff.

“He’s had success as a player, as a coach, and the last two years, as a defensive coordinator in Arizona,” Chudzinski said. “He’s an outstanding person and coach and comes highly recommended and regarded from people that I talked to as I went through my research of finding out about Ray.

“He’s very competitive, a fiery guy as a coach. He relates well to the players. He’s an outstanding teacher, and those are all great qualities that will bode well for us and help us be the best that we can be.”

Horton inherits a defense that has been built largely through the NFL Draft in the past three seasons. In 2011, the Browns added tackle Phil Taylor and end Jabaal Sheard to the defensive line with their first and second-round picks. The previous year, the Browns selected cornerback Joe Haden and safety T.J. Ward with their first two selections.

“What I saw was big men that can run and little men that can hit,” Horton said of the Browns’ defense. “If you give me those two things, we’ll be a good defense. When you watch our defensive line, they get after the quarterback, and then, they turn and run to make multiple plays downfield. Then, you see our little guys. You know they can run, but the thing that impresses you is that they can hit. If you give me those two things, we have a chance to be a very successful defense.”

Prior to joining the Cardinals, Horton worked with the defensive backs of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers ranked in the NFL’s top 10 in total defense each season, and were the league’s best three different times. Under Horton’s watch, safety Troy Polamalu earned six straight trips to the Pro Bowl (2005-2010), was a first-team All-Pro three times, and the Associated Press’s 2010 Defensive Player of the Year.

With his experience working with safeties, Horton is looking forward to teaching Ward.

“What I see in T.J. is a player that’s dynamic in the run game, a player that’s going to get better because he’s a smart player that will hit,” Horton said. “He’s a smaller man. He’s not a big man, but he will hit you. I’m excited to have T.J., to be able to teach him, grow with him, and understand what he does best. He’ll tell me what he does best by how he practices, how he plays.”