Thoughts on Ray Horton's hiring

February, 9, 2011
2/09/11
5:59
PM ET
Thoughts after the Arizona Cardinals announced Pittsburgh Steelers secondary coach Ray Horton's hiring as defensive coordinator:
  • Horton has paid his dues. He's been a secondary coach or assistant secondary coach for each of his 16 seasons on NFL coaching staffs. A natural question: Why didn't he advance more quickly? One potential reason: Horton's bosses kept leaving the game. He has worked for Bruce Coslet, Steve Mariucci and Bill Cowher over the years. Those guys haven't been in position to help him get better jobs elsewhere.
  • The Steelers allowed Horton to reach the final year of his contract. They made sure linebackers coach Keith Butler remained on staff, presumably as their future coordinator. The Cardinals also wanted Butler first. That may or may not reflect negatively on Horton. It might just mean these teams prefer Butler.
  • Horton gives the Cardinals the Pittsburgh flavor they've sought for their defense. That could give the team a more focused vision regarding the players Arizona seeks through the draft. Coach Ken Whisenhunt should be more comfortable with this defensive coordinator.
  • Horton spent seven seasons under Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau in Pittsburgh and four seasons under him in Cincinnati. Ron Lynn was the defensive coordinator when Horton broke into the NFL as an assistant with the Washington Redskins in 1994. Norv Turner was head coach. Kurt Schottenheimer was defensive coordinator when Horton was coaching the secondary for the Detroit Lions under head coaches Marty Mornhinweg and Steve Mariucci.
  • The Cardinals have invested substantial sums in their secondary. Adrian Wilson and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are coming off disappointing seasons. Horton must get more from them. Horton coached Hall of Famer Darrell Green, who has worked with Rodgers-Cromartie during offseasons.
  • Arizona was among eight NFL teams that went into the 2010 season with an offensive-minded head coach and a defensive coordinator running a 3-4 scheme. Six of the eight defensive coordinators had backgrounds coaching linebackers. One traced his coaching roots to the defensive line. The Packers' Dom Capers was the only one with a background in the secondary. He had been a head coach twice before joining Green Bay.

The Cardinals have a news conference set to begin momentarily. Back with more in a bit.

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