Ray Horton has been running the 3-4 defensive schemes for almost a decade during his tenure in the NFL. He was hired by the Cleveland Browns this week to serve as their new defensive coordinator. The Browns, who have been running a 4-3 defense under Dick Jauron the past two seasons, look to be in for a facelift.
Horton will enter his second gig as defensive coordinator in 2013 after two season as the same position in Arizona and seven years as Steelers’ secondary coach under mentor Dick LeBeau. Horton says that he isn’t committed to the 3-4 defensive package if it doesn’t fit the situation. The Browns certainly don’t fit the necessary needs to run a successful 3-4 and the personnel undoubtedly would be an issue.
Cleveland last ran the 3-4 defense in 2010 under then-defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Dick Jauron’s two seasons in town were mildly successful with fans seeing noticeable improvements. The Browns hired Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski earlier this month which spelled the end for Jauron in Cleveland. Chudzinski, like Horton, is a member of the Norv Turner coaching tree. Turner joins the staff in 2013 as new Browns offensive coordinator.
The Browns most recently have built their defense to fit the 4-3 scheme. They spent their first round draft pick in 2011 on Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor despite already having a productive nose tackle on the roster in Ahtyba Rubin. Cleveland drafted two more defensive tackles in the 2012 draft in John Hughes and Billy Winn. The linebacker position for the Browns has been an issue with a lack of talent and depth. Linebackers are very critical in the success rate for a 3-4 package which isn’t good news for the current roster.
Horton interviewed for the Browns head coaching vacancy on January 1st and was hopeful to get the job. Despite getting just a coordinator job in Cleveland, Horton is said to be very excited to start a new chapter in his career. When asked to describe how his defense will be, Horton said “aggressive”.