Ray Horton says Browns defense doesn’t need personnel overhaul


The Browns finally got around to firing defensive coordinator Dick Jauron on Monday, which meant that they could officially introduce defensive coordinator Ray Horton at a press conference on Tuesday.

Horton’s had the job for a little while now, so we’ve already heard him talk about how his background running the 3-4 defense in Pittsburgh and Arizona doesn’t mean that he’s married to it in Cleveland. He repeated that on Tuesday, saying that he plans to run a scheme with multiple fronts that is tailored to make the best use of the personnel on the Browns roster. That personnel doesn’t need major overhaul because Horton saw “the perfect mix here of big guys that can run and little guys that will hit” when looking at the Browns defense.

He further explained what he meant by putting players in position to succeed by talking specifically about Jabaal Sheard. Sheard has 15.5 sacks as a defensive end in the last two years and expressed some trepidation about moving positions in Horton’s defense. Horton tried to put those fears to rest on Tuesday when asked if Sheard could move to outside linebacker.

“I would hope my answer would be, ‘Let’s not put limits on what players can and cannot do.’ Jabaal is a guy that I have seen on film that can rush the quarterback and is athletic. What we are going to do as a coaching staff is put each one of our guys in the best position,” Horton said, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I’m looking at the offense we are playing and what they do best and what can I do to take it away. (Sheard) may be a strong safety some time, he can be a linebacker, he can be a D end. I want him to tell me what he can do best and not put a label on what he is.”

It’s a wise approach to take with a new job. Horton obviously has things he’s going to want to do on defense with any personnel, but success is likelier to come quickly if he maximizes the talent of the players on hand instead of prioritizing his own schematic notions at every turn.

20 responses to “Ray Horton says Browns defense doesn’t need personnel overhaul

  1. Being a Browns fan, everything I know about this guy so far is making me feel very good about where our team is going to be in a couple years – if not this year that is, though I’m not getting my hopes up too much since this takes time.

    I’m just hoping my fellow fans will show some patience. Before the Cowboys went on their run in the 90s, people forget they had 2-14 season. If we can hold onto the staff we’ve assembled for long enough and pick up a franchise QB, I think we’ll finally have a real contender.

  2. Browns defense is very underrated. Young, athletic, and can hit just like Horton said. Just wish they’d replace Sheldon Brown. Worst CB ever in the NFL and they should go after Cromartie to be the opposite to Haden.

  3. Ray Horton is head coaching material. He’s going to want to install and operate the best defense he can with the players he has and can acquire this off season. A multi-year plan only delays his higher goal to coach his own team. It is everyone’s benefit — Horton’s, the Browns’, and the men on the team already — that success be had sooner.

  4. An aspiring defensive coordinator who says all the right things at his introductory press conference doesn’t change the fact that the Cleveland Browns are one of the worst organizations in sports. There isn’t a group of fans who deserve a perennial loser more than Browns’ fans. But hey, considering the backup QB is always the most popular dude in Cleveland, that’s the job I’d want.

  5. I wouldn’t count on immediate success. They do have to deal with Cincinnati (young) and Baltimore (established). Pitt will re load. It’s not easy challenging for that division.

  6. If they can keep TJ Ward from taking bad angles and being so out of position it would help. I felt the D-line was solid, the backers second and the DBs being the worst. As a fan, I hate seeing 3rd & 2 and the DBs playing 6 or more yards off. I hat seeing poor angles. I’d take them to a baseball field and have them play outfield fielding grounders and cutting them off. You can’t go where the ball IS, you have to go where the ball is GOING.

    I am going to love watching Horton’s defense for this one year before he becomes a head coach and leaves us and I can pull a Rob Schneider, “We suck again!”

  7. They do have young talent on both sides of the ball.

    I believe in Horton. He’ll get the best out of them. It’s the first time in a long time I’ve seen the Browns in a good position to make waves.

    Not a Browns fan. Just call it like I see it

  8. They will likely add Alabama CB Dee Milliner with the #6 overall pick in this year’s draft, along with a free safety in perhaps round 4. It’ll be interesting to see how they use their $48 million in cap space in Free Agency. Look for them to compete for the services of Houston OLB Connor Baldwin and GB WR Greg Jennings. Horton is a very smart, experienced, and innovative coach. With Turner running the offense and Chud overseeing the whole operation (ensuring innovation at all levels) Browns football promises to be exciting again. They may not beat everybody, but it looks like they’ll play to beat everybody else up. Hope so. Long overdue.

  9. I look for good things from the Browns this year. Horton is one of the best and the Steelers and Ravens defenses are both aging and in need of an overhaul.
    They definitely know how to do it but father time has caught up with these two teams coupled with FA, is going to make them vulnerable. Horton led the Cards to beating the Patriots (in Foxboro) last season without an offense or QB who could get the ball to the only weapon they had in Fitzgerald, and this hire by the Browns shows a forward thinking organization. Horton wants to be a HC and will put everything into making the Browns defense at the least respectable but probably more. He is building a name for himself and the Browns will benefit from his ambition.

  10. If he wants to switch to a 3-4 then YES our D needs a complete overhaul.Outside of DQ we have no LB’s.we would have to draft/sign atleast 5 this yr

  11. His huge ego will be his undoing and cause implode this year. He’s still bitter about not getting the AZ job. He’s a ticking time bomb.

  12. It all sounds great, but we’ve heard it before. We get a whole new coaching staff, and front office staff, every two years, and they always say the same upbeat, hopeful things. Then two years later they’re cleaning out their desks and another bunch of coaches and executives are telling us how wonderful it’s going to be. I’ve grown numb to the talk. Show me some results. Unlike the talk, that’s something I haven’t witnessed yet.

  13. If you look at the teams that are consistently in the playoffs they have something in common that has put them at the elite level and that is consistency within their organization. The key coaching positions don’t change every two years but instead re-evaluate and work out the kinks when they have something that is beginning to work. Teams like the Chiefs, Cards, Browns, Dolphins, Panthers, Jags, can’t seem to get beyond first base because of their short-term thinking and always looking for a quick fix. Dynasties take time to build and I hope the Browns with hang in there as they have a chance to move forward this year. I hope you’ll give Horton a chance; I don’t think you will be sorry!

  14. I think Cleveland is heading in the right direction. Honestly, of all the coaching openings this offseason, it seems that the Browns have put together quite the staff. The Steelers are going to have to cut a bunch of players or get Salaries reduced. The Ravens the same. They both are over the cap.

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