Horton focuses more on talent than scheme

Posted by Vic Carucci on January 30, 2013 – 12:01 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

NEW ORLEANS – The magic isn’t in the scheme, whatever it’s called.

The Browns won’t have a stronger defense in 2013 and beyond because they’re playing a 3-4 rather than a 4-3.

They’ll have a stronger defense because their defenders are in the best possible position to succeed, and because they perform at a higher level.

That, ultimately, is what Ray Horton is setting out to do as the Browns’ new defensive coordinator.

He already has a slogan that captures what he wants from his defense: “Big men that can run, little men that can hit.” And that is a constant, regardless of what sort of front the Browns employ.

In fact, Horton doesn’t necessarily describe the team’s base scheme as a 3-4, even though that is what he mostly utilized as defensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals the past two seasons.

“It could be a 4-3, could be a 5-2,” he told me during his Tuesday appearance on “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford.” “Sometimes it’s going to be a 4-4, just depending on what we do.”

Horton, who brings tremendous energy to the job, is excited about the prospect of being able to utilize multiple fronts because of the versatility of the players the Browns already have on defense.

He is especially thrilled with the talent he sees on the defensive line.

“Our big men up front can all run, and they run very well,” Horton said. “They make plays behind the line of scrimmage and also downfield. And then some of our smaller, skilled players are tenacious and they’re not afraid to come up and hit. And when you have that combination of guys who are willing to run and do what it takes and guys that are fearless, you can put together a good defense.

“Schematically, the first (question I ask) is, ‘What do the players do best?’ Because I’m going to do what they do best, no matter what it is. With our big guys – when you have (Ahtyba) Rubin and Phil Taylor and Frostee (Rucker) – these type guys that can drop and cover and run, it allows you do a myriad of things. Where you can drop certain guys, blitz certain guys, have confusion hopefully on the offensive part of what we’re doing – who’s coming, who’s not.

“It just allows you to do so many more things (rather than being) just a predictable team, (with opponents saying), ‘This is what they do, they line up in one thing.’ We won’t do that.”

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>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/viccarucci or by e-mail at daily@clevelandbrowns.com or by calling 855-363-2459.

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