Ray Horton was passed over for the Arizona Cardinals job this past season after he had been their defensive coordinator for the past two seasons. Horton moved on to the Cleveland Browns this past season and took over their defensive coordinator job. Horton has earned the rep as a very good 3-4 defensive coordinator, who brings a lot of pressure, and gets the most out of his players.
Horton was a 10 year NFL veteran, who played for both the Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys, between 1983 and 1992. Horton actually broke into coaching in Washington as an assistant defensive backs coach under Norv Turner (who knew him from Dallas). After three years in Washington, Horton landed a job as the Bengals defensive backs coach. After 5 years in Cincinnati as the defensive backs coach, Horton moved on to the Lions where he spent two years in the same position. After his time in Detroit, Horton went to Pittsburgh where he served as the defensive backs coach for seven years (2004-2010). It is in Pittsburgh that he really started to make a name for himself as a potential defensive coordinator. Horton was credited with really helping to develop Troy Polumalu into the All-Pro safety he became. After the Steelers Super Bowl appearance in 2010, Horton was lured to Arizona to coach the defense.
Horton hasn't had elite defenses from a yards/points league rankings standard, but considering the poor offenses he's had to support it's not exactly shocking. Faced with picking up the slack with offenses who either couldn't move the ball or would turn the ball over, Horton's defenses typically played at a significant disadvantage. In fact his ability to keep them mainly in the middle of the pack or better (18th, 12th, 7th in yards and 17th, 17th and 19th in points), should be considered a plus. Watching Horton's defenses up close, really shows how strong they were. Both in Arizona and Cleveland you see aggressive, attacking defenses who still maintain good discipline and don't make major mistakes. They force teams to fight for every yard and point, and that is exactly the style and mentality the Redskins have been lacking.
Horton has found success both as a player and assistant coach, reaching the Super Bowl 5 total times (2 as a player, 3 as a coach). He knows first hand what it takes to be a winner in this league and has mentored under some great coaches while in Pittsburgh. With a back ground in defensive backs, Horton can hopefully quickly fix the area that ails the Redskins defense the most, and he could help develop some of their young DB's.
Why Horton would want to come to the Redskins:
Horton may be relatively inexperienced with only three years as a coordinator under his belt, but he's got 19 total years of NFL coaching experience. He's 53 years old, and while that isn't old for a head coaching role, it also means he doesn't have the time to sit around and wait for the best opportunity. Horton was passed over for the Arizona job, which he felt he should have gotten and would likely jump at the first chance he got to be a head coach somewhere.
Horton would appreciate the Redskins having a 3-4 foundation already especially the talent at OLB. In Arizona the rush linebackers were possibly the weakest part of Horton's unit (he's got much better talent in Cleveland), and the defense relied on a strong front 3 and great ILB and a good secondary. Here Horton would need some of the other areas upgraded, but he'd have the edge rushers he has lacked in the past which are the heart of the 3-4. After the past three years in Arizona and Cleveland, Horton would be ecstatic to see an offense with the potential to move the football and put points on the board. It would be a strong core that Horton would be inheriting on both sides of the ball, and he would just need to fill in the pieces.
Will it happen?:
Tough to say. Horton is a guy who is respected as what he's doing so far as a coordinator but he has only done it for 3 seasons now. The results are pretty good, especially considering the situations he's been in. It is tough to think he will sit atop the Redskins list. I wouldn't consider him a favorite with strong odds, but if he gets an interview he could definitely wow the team.