It remains a mystery that eight NFL teams bypassed defensive coordinator Ray Horton for their head coaching vacancy this offseason. Horton is one of the top defensive-minded coaches in the NFL, coordinating an Arizona Cardinals defense that ranked sixth in Football Outsiders’ opponent-adjusted metrics in 2012, despite playing with an offense that ranked dead last in total offense, rushing offense and third down percentage, and was 31st in passing and scoring offense.
Horton interviewed for openings with the Cardinals and Cleveland Browns, but those teams, like seven of the eight NFL teams looking for a new head coach, opted to go with offensive-minded head coaches. The Cardinals hired Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, while the Browns went with Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski.
During a radio appearance with “Burns and Gambo” on Arizona Sports 620 on Thursday, Horton said that he had former San Diego Chargers head coach Norv Turner, one of the more well-respected offensive coordinators in the game, was ready to join his coaching staff had he been promoted by the Cardinals.
“Unequivocally,” Horton said when asked if he would have landed Turner. “All the way throughout the process.
“His wife, Nancy, wanted to come here. Everybody was aware, I talked to Norv. His wife wanted to come here, they have a daughter in San Diego. They wanted to be close to home. They were excited about the possibility. He had worked with [quarterback] Kevin Kolb at the Senior Bowl.”
Horton, who had a season remaining on his contract, was allowed to leave the Cardinals after Arians told him he would not be retained and is now the defensive coordinator on Chudzinski’s inaugural staff in Cleveland, a group that also includes…Norv Turner.
After two seasons of running the 4-3 defense under defensive coordinator Dick Jauron, the Browns are moving back to a 3-4 defense under Horton.
“It’ll be a 3-4 defense, the same defense we ran (with the Cardinals),” Horton told 910 AM in Arizona via Mary Kay Cabot off the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. “It won’t be a hybrid unless you’re playing golf.”