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Horton Takes Over Browns D; Plans Aggressive, Attacking Scheme

By DARYL RUITER, 92.3 The Fan Browns Beat Reporter
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New Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton / (Photo by Daryl Ruiter CBS Cleveland)

New Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton / (Photo by Daryl Ruiter CBS Cleveland)

DarylRuiter_300 Daryl Ruiter
Cleveland Browns beat writer and member of the Pro Football Writers of...
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BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Browns introduced Ray Horton Tuesday as their defensive coordinator.

Horton, who was hired on Jan. 18, spent the previous 2 seasons running a 3-4 base defense in Arizona with the Cardinals.

“From an offensive standpoint, the 3-4 presents the most challenges and the flexibility of the blitz packages that they bring,” Chudzinski said. “I’ve used the word hybrid to describe that style of defense in moving away from the 3-4 bases defense. As I’ve looked at Ray and studied Ray and what he’s done at Arizona, it fits perfectly with what I envision him running.”

While many are caught up in 3-4 vs. 4-3, Horton plans to run a multiple front defense based off the 3-4. Chudzinski refers to it as hybrid. Whatever it’s called is simply semantics to Horton.

“What are we? I don’t really care what we are on defense. I want to know what we are going to look like,” Horton said. “We may be a 3-4 on one snap, we may be a 4-3 on another snap, I guarantee you we will be a 5-2 sometimes and we will be a 4-4 sometimes. We are a multi-front attacking defense and that’s the most important thing.

“We are going to be a defense that gives teams problems. We will try to take away what the offense does best.”

Horton plans on mixing up the front 7 to keep offenses guessing – much like he did in Arizona as well as what his mentor Dick LeBeau does in Pittsburgh with the Steelers.

Horton served as the Steelers defensive backs coach under LeBeau from 2004-10.

“The thing I’m most excited about is I have a group of athletes that can run and hit,” Horton said. “They’re not limited to just saying, ‘Coach line me up in a specific front or number system.’ Just run and hit.”

Many speculate that big changes to the roster on the defensive side of the ball will be needed to run Horton’s scheme. He disagrees.

“I love this team and the way its constituted right now,” Horton said. “They give effort and I don’t see dropoff. If I can get that for 16 weeks that’s what I look for. I need big men that can run, little men that can hit.”

Chudzinski isn’t overly concerned about any transition. He has a simple philosophy – if you’re a good football player you can play any scheme.

“There’s always a period of adjustment when a change is made,” Chudzinski said. “As we get more deeply into the roster, if you’re a good football player, you’re a good football player. I don’t think the scheme is so different you can’t use good football players.”

Horton interviewed with the Browns in Arizona to be the head coach. That interview with owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner helped sell him on joining Chudzinski’s staff.

“That was a huge influence,” Horton said. “Interviewing, looking at the team, understanding, ‘Wow, this is a very young team that competed under tough circumstances and continued to get better and competed. When you look at the Pittsburgh Steeler game here how they dominated, how they finished the season at Pittsburgh how they hung tough and it was a close game.”

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