Cleveland Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson announced that Ray Horton will rejoin the team as defensive coordinator. Horton has been an NFL defensive coordinator the past five seasons, including the 2013 season when he served as the Browns defensive coordinator. He has coached in the NFL the past 22 seasons following a 10-year playing career as a defensive back. As a player and coach, he has made it to the Super Bowl five times, where he has three wins.
"I have always watched Ray from afar," Jackson said. "We have known each other. I have competed against him. I remember my time in Cincinnati competing against him when he was here. The guy is a tremendous football coach. He knows this division. He was raised in this division. He played in this division. He understands what needs to be done to get our defense back to where it needs to be. I wanted somebody that knew the lay of the land and understood the division, understands the culture here and understands the change that we need to make and someone who can lead our young players and develop players to get better.
"His defenses have gone after the quarterback. They have been effective in stopping the run. They had a very good pass defense when he was here. That is what we need to do. We have some of the premier passers in this division when you talk about Ben Roethlisberger, Andy Dalton and Joe Flacco. We are going to have slow those guys down to have a chance to compete in this division. That is what we expect from our defense."
"I am really excited to be back," Horton said. "I love the fans of Cleveland. When I was here last time they really embraced me. I can't tell you how many times I've met Cleveland fans in different cities. It is a great fan base. I am excited to come back and help Coach Jackson win. We haven't worked together previously, but I think there has been a mutual respect from across the field. It's one of those things where you appreciate the challenges from matching up against each other from opposite sides of the field."
Horton orchestrated one of the best defensive turnarounds in Cleveland history. After finishing 23rd in the league the previous year, the Browns ranked ninth in the league in total defense in 2013, marking the team's best finish since 1994. The Browns limited opponents to an average of 3.9-yards per carry, which ranked eighth in the NFL and marked Cleveland's best total in 18 years. The Browns' defense also registered 40 sacks, their most since 2001. Corner Joe Haden and safety T.J. Ward were each selected to their first career Pro Bowl.
Horton spent two seasons (2014-15) as the defensive coordinator for Tennessee. The Titans finished sixth in the NFL in sacks per pass play, seventh in passing yards allowed and eighth in rush average against in 2015. In his first season with the Titans, the team recorded at least one sack by 18 different players, a team record and the most in the NFL in 2014.
Horton also spent two seasons (2011-12) with Arizona as defensive coordinator. In 2012, Horton guided a defensive unit that led the NFL in passer rating allowed (71.2) and interception percentage (4.4%). The 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). They also ranked fifth in passing defense (200.8 ypg), first downs allowed (288) and points allowed per drive (1.42). Defensive back Patrick Peterson ranked fourth in the NFL with seven interceptions and led the league with five fumble recoveries en route to a Pro Bowl selection. Horton made an immediate impact upon his arrival in 2011, as the club's defense allowed 34 total touchdowns, their fewest since 1994, while leading the NFL in third down efficiency (31.4%).
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, 2007-08). Horton was pivotal in the development of safety Troy Polamalu, as he was selected to six consecutive Pro Bowls (2005-10), named first team All-Pro three times (2005, 2008, 2010) and was voted as the 2010 AP Defensive Player of the Year.
Horton began his coaching career with 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 Cincinnati (1997-2001) and Detroit (2002-03), before landing in Pittsburgh.
A second-round selection (53rd overall) by Cincinnati in the 1983 NFL Draft, Horton appeared in 147 games with 99 starts with the Bengals (1983-88) and 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.