The Cleveland Browns on Friday named Ray Horton as defensive coordinator, the team announced. He served in the same capacity the previous two seasons (2011-12) with the Arizona Cardinals. Horton’s résumé includes 19 years of experience coaching in the NFL, following a 10-year playing career as a defensive back.
“We are truly excited that we were able to get someone of Ray’s caliber as our defensive coordinator,” said Browns Head Coach Rob Chudzinski. “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.
“With the additions of Ray and Norv (Turner), and also by retaining Chris (Tabor) we believe we have outstanding leaders and teachers in each of our three phases. I feel as though we are off to a great start in our plan of putting together an outstanding coaching staff.”
“As we’ve said before, an important factor in hiring Rob was our confidence in him being able to put together a top-quality staff,” said Browns CEO Joe Banner. “He has assembled an extremely impressive group of coaches, and that will be very beneficial as we develop our players.”
This past season, 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).
Cardinals defensive back Patrick Peterson ranked fourth in the NFL with seven interceptions and led the league with five fumble recoveries en route to being the only Cardinal selected to the 2013 Pro Bowl. 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, ’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.
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 (53rd 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.
Ray Horton’s Coaching Background:
1994-96 Washington Redskins, assistant defensive backs/defensive assistant coach
1997-2001 Cincinnati Bengals, defensive backs coach
2002-03 Detroit Lions, defensive backs coach
2004-10 Pittsburgh Steelers, defensive backs/assistant defensive backs coach
2011-12 Arizona Cardinals, defensive coordinator
2013- Cleveland Browns, defensive coordinator