BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – A busy day for the Cleveland Browns continued Friday afternoon with the announcement of Ray Horton and the new defensive coordinator.
Horton, who spent the previous 2 seasons with the Arizona Cardinals in the same position, interviewed with the Browns Jan. 8 in Arizona for the head coaching vacancy which was filled by Rob Chudzinski.
“We are truly excited that we were able to get someone of Ray’s caliber as our defensive coordinator,” Chudzinski said in a statement. “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.”
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).
The team named Norv Turner offensive coordinator as well as named 5 other assistant coaches on Thursday.
“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,” Chudzinski said. “I feel as though we are off to a great start in our plan of putting together an outstanding coaching staff.”
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.
“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,” Browns CEO Joe Banner said. “He has assembled an extremely impressive group of coaches, and that will be very beneficial as we develop our players.”
Earlier in the day, Michael Lombardi was named the team’s new VP – player personnel.