Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/12/14
The days of former Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and his long, flowing locks are long gone in Cleveland. Ryan’s replacement, Dick Jauron, was kicked to the curb this past offseason after spending two years attempting to compile the right player personnel to fit his 4-3 defensive scheme. Now, the team has brought in yet another defensive coordinator who is more than willing to do whatever necessary to fit his schemes – this time, back to the 3-4 that was once instilled by Ryan. Overhauls in the coaching department have become somewhat of a routine every few years in Cleveland, as the team has seen more than its fair share of new faces since returning to the NFL in 1999. Arguably no regime has created as much preseason excitement in Cleveland since then than the present trio of Rob Chudzinski, Norv Turner, and Ray Horton. Norv Turner (left) and Rob Chudzinski (right) hope to develop a potent Browns offense. (Photo credit: David Richards/USA Today) While most fans agree that Chudzinski’s inexperience as a head coach is a bit of a concern, as is the underachieving nature of the Turner-led Chargers in recent years, most seem to have little worries about letting Horton take the reigns of the defense. Horton, a former NFL cornerback, worked his way up the NFL ladder by starting out as an assistant defensive backs coach with the Washington Redskins before working his way up to head defensive backs coach with the Cincinnati Bengals in 1997. Five years later, Horton found himself with the Detroit Lions as the team’s secondary coach. He accepted the same position with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2004, where he began to make a name for himself. Having already collected one championship ring as a player, Horton played a pivotal role in the Steelers’ two most recent Super Bowl victories (2006 and 2009), as well. After his successful run with the Steelers, Horton spent the past two seasons as the defensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals. Having quickly established himself as a hot name on the NFL head coaching market, he earned multiple interviews for head coaching positions across the league after only his first full season as an NFL defensive coordinator. Although he was not given any offers, he had obviously made a lasting impression as numerous teams inquired about Horton’s availability again this past offseason. However, he once again failed to land a head coaching gig. Despite the popular notion that the Cardinals defense had performed well enough for Horton to keep his job, Arizona allowed him to sign elsewhere following a rather strange chain of events. “Elsewhere” happened to be Cleveland, Ohio. Horton’s positive impact on the team became evident before the team even stepped onto the practice field, as the persuading of defensive studs Paul Kruger and Desmond Bryant to sign with the Browns undoubtedly involved quite a bit of discussion regarding Horton’s coaching pedigree. With the offseason acquisitions of Kruger, Bryant, rookie outside linebacker/defensive end hybrid Barkevious Mingo, and linebacker Quentin Groves, the Browns made sure that Horton would have the right player personnel to plug into his blitz-heavy 4-3 defense that figures to emphasize attacking the quarterback in every which way possible. The cornerback-safety combination of Joe Haden and T.J. Ward could prove to be devastating to opposing defenses this season, but the secondary’s success as a whole hinges on the play of a few young players who are currently battling for the remaining two starting spots. Regardless of who wins the position battles, the secondary will often be filled with two unproven youngsters this season who will likely be prone to mistakes as they continue to work out their kinks in the NFL. Ray Horton looks to improve the Browns defense in 2013 by using a blitz-heavy 3-4 scheme. Luckily, the pressure-heavy style that has been implemented by Horton will likely take a huge load off the shoulders of the young secondary. The simple fact that there is more depth in the Browns’ much-improved front seven will also ease the pressure on the defensive backs, and the group of Kruger, Bryant, Mingo, Groves, Jabaal Sheard, Phil Taylor, and Athya Rubin has enough talent and experience to blossom into one of the league’s best defensive fronts. This is welcoming news to Browns fans, as applying pressure on the quarterback has been a major weakness for the Browns for nearly 14 years. The Browns lead only the Houston Texans (who weren’t even in existence until the 2002 season) in defensive sacks since 1999, trailing all other 28 teams in the NFL. Yesterday, the Browns held their annual Family Night practice in front of a crowd of 24,131. The offense sputtered along as growing pains were displayed frequently, an issue Coach Chudzinski chalked up to the continuing adjustment of the players to the team’s new offensive schemes. While the offense stumbled, the defense excelled en route to a dominating effort that was very well-received by fans. This should come as no surprise, as most fans are aware of the old adage “defense wins championships.” Ray Horton has helped lead defenses to championships before, and he may very well do it again at some point in his career. But, here in Cleveland, a playoff appearance would certainly suffice – for now.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

New York Rangers are the first team to clinch a playoff spot

Victorino: I plan on playing every day for Red Sox in 2015

The Rams are still planning on drafting a quarterback

Howard willing to make 'ultimate sacrifice' to help Rockets

Pacquiao bought P. Diddy’s house for $12.5M, fight tickets

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

The Seahawks are already winning the NFL Draft

Fiancée takes stand at Aaron Hernandez's murder trial

Thunder announce Kevin Durant to miss rest of season

Jeremy Maclin says he still believes in Chip Kelly

Mike Weber on Sabres fans cheering loss: 'A whole new low'

Michael Sam: 'I'm not the only gay person in the NFL'

Elite Eight preview: Arizona vs. Wisconsin

Support for relocation growing among NFL powers

Mother says special needs son forced to remove varsity letter

NFL owners chose cost over game integrity

Minnesota Timberwolves: Should they tank?

Be careful how loudly you cheer on Mo'ne Davis' olive branch

Twins to offer $19 Bloody Mary with pizza slice garnish

Ranking the NBA's hottest coaching seats

The beginning of the end for Notre Dame

An identity in flux: Harden and the collective consciousness

LeBron James makes Fortune’s list of 50 greatest world leaders

Five under-the-radar National League MVP candidates

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Elite Eight preview and predictions: Arizona vs. Wisconsin

NFL owners chose cost over game integrity

Be careful how loudly you cheer on Mo'ne Davis' olive branch

James Harden and the collective consciousness

Hottest coaching seats in NBA

Under-the-radar NL MVP candidates

Notre Dame’s coach makes first Elite Eight

The last Expo standing

Five under-the-radar AL MVP candidates

Michigan sent recruit's GF a letter

MLB teams that could disappoint

25 years ago, the best Sweet 16 of all time was pure madness

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.