A Look Into Ray Horton’s Defensive Philosophy

A big h/t to @MikeAmmo for digging this video out of the vault. Two years ago, when new Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton was hired on as Arizona’s defensive coordinator after being Pittsburgh’s defensive backs coach under Mike Tomlin and Dick LeBeau, he sat down and talked about his defensive philosophy on the Arizona Cardinals’ website.



The highlights included his desire to have “big guys who can run, little guys who can hit” to make his defense successful as well as being a 3-4 defense on first and second downs and a 4-2 D on third downs. All of what Horton said seemed to fit right in line with what new Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski said about wanting an attack style defense. Horton’s D utilizes a variety of zone blitzes and its main goal is to put pressure on the quarterback. Given the Browns’ current personal, that will take some acquisitions in the offseason.

Related: Lombardi Has A Lot To Prove For Browns Fans


  • Porckchop

    Well I for one am not letting Hagglescrm off the hook for The Debacle in The Desert. So what if the HC we got has brought in coordinators with some pedigree. Banter and Hagerpamts didnt get the guy we decided they really wanted. Even worse they hired a guy who had the audacity to offer opinions on TV that turned out to be wrong, even though at least half or more of us agreed with those opinions when they were given.

    (Incherent mumbling about greatest fans in the world)

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Well this hiring creates more questions then provides answers namely if the 3-4 defensive scheme is the primary or base defense from which Horton will scheme how long will it take to obtain the correct personnel? Given the significant amount of defensive lineman and the lack of linebackers I’d say the new personnel people (cough hack weaze Lombardi) have their work cut out for them. All that aside I like Horton’s hiring I’m just cautious on how long and if the right players can be found within a year or two. A year or two being the maximum I think that Browns fans can last while another rebuild/retrofit occurs.

  • bossman09

    2nd best option after Jauron. Of course, this is going to be a complete disaster as the defense is just not going to work. Hopefully the offense can start scoring 30 points a game in week 1 because we are going to need it.

  • Wow

    What is wrong with the 4-3?? We tried the 3-4 before, it failed!

  • TSR3000

    I think people are overreacting about the 3-4 switch. If we grab 1-2 decent LBs in free agency and draft a stud LB/DE then we are well on our way. Plus, we may still have a solid LB in Gocong coming back. Our D line depth makes the transition easier.

  • Ritz

    The goal is to win consistently long-term. Yes, we fans hate the constant changes, and rightfully so. But I don’t care too much about the scheme as I do building a championship level defense. If it takes a year to adjust to a new scheme, so be it, if the long-term result is good.

    We needed better linebackers anyway… Its not like the 4-3 does not require good linebackers. Plus, having depth at the D-line in the 3-4 is still a good thing.

    DE: Winn
    NT: Taylor/Rubin
    DE: Rucker? Hughes? Not Rubin, right?

    OLB: Sheard
    MLB: Jackson, Gocong, Johnson, Maiava
    OLB: Gocong?

    Clearly some needs at LB and DE – but they were already needs anyway.

  • Jaker

    4-2 D on third is fine by me, it’s what we do already. Look, we need help at pass rush and we need another LB already. If our Dline can make the switch AND be effective, the boy thing I see going against this would be Sheard’s prospects in the 3-4. If he can play OLB (BIG if), then I think we can be ok because we desperately need pass rush, this change only emphasizes that need. Our draft will be very important, so don’t screw it up Lombo!!! but our cap room can be just as helpful

    Jarvis Jones at 6 would be a dream. If not, we could trade down to the middle of the round, grab a different pass rusher (there’s plenty in the draft) or a CB and pick up additional picks. There are also pass rushers available on the Free Agent list: Spencer and Phillips come to mind. Maybe Norv can bring Phillips over? Maybe Horton knows of some guys who will play here in his system. A this point, lots of speculating and not a ton to do. We just have to sit back and pray they make the right decisions.

  • im hating the moving to 3-4 and wont be dissuaded because i dont want to overhaul the personnel

    but that being said, did you know prototype NT haloti ngata plays end for the ravens now? i didnt. and i guess i’m thinking that as long as rubin and taylor (who was a NT at baylor) can be on the field at same time, it might not totally suck.

  • Ritz

    If it would lead to long-term sustained success – i.e. if having Horton and installing his type of 3-4 was a key to a great defense – would you not support that? Not saying it is, but that is clearly what the Browns think.

  • i’m so so very very tainted by the RAC – mangini perpetual search for the right personnel. it was six long years. there was a rotation at nose tackle on par with the qb one. i’m jaded, cant help it on this one.

  • Jaker

    I love having Rubin, I really do, but I won’t be surprised if we deal him to a team in need of a cheap, effective DT. Especially for an OLB or a good draft pick, like a 2nd rounder

  • Good read Jaker

  • Jaker

    I am just now realizing how many grammatical and spelling errors I have made. Shame on me!

  • NeedsFoodBadly

    God knows the 3-4 can never work in Cleveland again! No other team has run a 3-4 successfully in the history of the NFL. If we can’t run a 4-3, why even bother putting a defense out there???

  • Wow

    They don’t have the players for a 3-4 genius

  • Jaker

    “Brian Hartline made a name for himself by catching 12 balls for 253 yards and a touchdown at Arizona in Week 4, but remarkably didn’t find the end zone after that. Hartline is perfectly fine as a No. 2 wideout, but he’s too inconsistent to be a top option.”

    Lets just hope Horton finds a valuable CB2 in the draft or in Free Agency, because Anquan Boldin, Antonio Brown and Mo Sanu are licking their chops at this stat line for #2 WRs, never mind #1 guys like Mike Wallace, Torrey Smith and Aj Green

  • NeedsFoodBadly

    God knows it’s impossible to get new players. We’re doomed!!

  • historycat

    That’s 1-2 aquisitions that we need to get right, in addition to our other needs. I would love if we could just stick to something for more that a couple years. If we keep changing directions we’ll never move forward.

  • saggy

    Im not sure about the 3-4 but I am totally sold on changing the D up every third down, and sometimes on second down, too.

    i don’t understand, with the athletes in the NFL these days, why D-Coordinators get fixated on only ONE defense. Shoot – run em all, confuse the offense, create plays and mismatches. There’s no reason a team can’t have a defensive mindset that permeates more than one base defense.

    I understand the whole thing about personnel, but we would be asking some middle line guys to move to end anyways, so what is the difference if it happens game-to-game or even play-to-play?

  • saggy

    sheard at OLB??? wow, can you say “screen pass”?

  • Harv 21

    very compelling guy. One thing seems pretty certain even though this interview is 2 years old: he’s completely born, bred and steeped in the 3-4, with the nose tackle as the fulcrum and LBs who can get the QB. He’s one of them true believers.

    Which means to us fans, yet again: Slow down, expect construction delays.

  • All these guys are egomaniacs. Why force a system if you don’t have the personnel. Additionally, why be so dogmatic? The better teams – read: Patriots – run 4-3 and 3-4. It would seem that we’re set up to run some sort of hybrid defense (man I hope so).

  • Hypno_Toad

    I agree with what you’re getting at, but just saying “God knows” followed by some sarcastic b.s isn’t really doing much. Try actually making a point.

  • NeedsFoodBadly

    Yes, you’re absolutely right and I apologize for being snarky. I am frustrated that people keep perpetuating the lazy, oversimplified idea that 3-4/4-3 defenses are all one monolithic system. Writers and commenters on every single Browns website I’ve read have pointed out that different breeds of 3-4 exist, and our personnel actually could fit certain schemes, depending on what Horton/Chud decide to run. The ideas that there is only one kind of 3-4, that just because a different coach here once ran a 3-4 which wasn’t successful, and that we can never acquire personnel to run a 3-4 absolutely baffle me. Mea culpa, but the original statement irritated me in so many ways. The idea that the Browns once ran a cruddy 3-4 under RAC and so any 3-4 will inevitably fail in Cleveland forever is insane.