NASHVILLE, Tenn. --The Tennessee Titans named Ray Horton as defensive coordinator.
Horton has 20 years of NFL coaching experience, including three seasons as defensive coordinator. Last year he was the defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns, which ranked ninth in the NFL in yards allowed. Horton also spent two seasons (2011-12) as the defensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals, under Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt. As a player and a coach, he has participated in a total of five Super Bowls during his NFL career.
“Really excited to have Ray Horton joining our staff,” said Titans head coach Ken Whisenhunt. “His body of work speaks for itself over the last few years as a coordinator and a position coach. Not only was he a good player in the league for a number of years, but he has transferred that into becoming a very good NFL coach. Scheme-wise, one of the most impressive things about Ray is his flexibility. He has the ability to go between a 4-3 and 3-4 and put our players in the best position to succeed. It has been evident by what he has done and where his defenses have ranked in the league over the last few years.”
In his one season for the Browns, Horton transformed a team that ranked 23rd in defense the year before his arrival into the ninth best in the NFL. Additionally, Cleveland ranked ninth in pass yards allowed and third in the NFL in fewest yards per pass attempted (6.15). Cornerback Joe Haden earned his first Pro Bowl appearance, while registering four interceptions.
“First I want to thank the Tennessee Titans organization for the trust and belief in me – I have a great deal of respect for their history and tradition through the years,” said Horton. “I am excited about this opportunity, to be reunited with coach Whisenhunt and to be a piece of the puzzle to move this team forward. I have a great deal of respect for Whiz, as someone who took a franchise that had never been to the Super Bowl, he was able to take them to one. I was with him in Pittsburgh as well and he is a leader, a great play-caller and has a love for the game. As for our defensive system, I have said from day one that I don’t coach a particular alignment, I coach men who want to get after it and we will play physical and fundamentally sound. We will do whatever suits the men that I coach and whatever the Tennessee Titans can do best.”
In his two seasons in Arizona as defensive coordinator, he guided the unit to significant improvement. He took over a group that ranked 29th in total defense and improved to 18th in 2011 and 12th in his final season with the Cardinals. Even more impressive, his defense was the NFL’s best in third-down defense in 2011 and second-best in 2012. His 2012 unit also led the NFL in passer rating allowed (71.2), ranked second in interceptions (22), third in red zone defense (44.4%), fifth in takeaways (33) and fifth in passing yards allowed (200.8 yards/game). Cornerback Patrick Peterson tallied seven interceptions and earned his first Pro Bowl selection in 2012.
Prior to joining the Cardinals, Horton spent seven seasons (2004-10) as the defensive backs/assistant defensive backs coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. During his time in Pittsburgh, the Steelers defense ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in total defense each season, including leading the NFL on three occasions (2004, 2007-08). He worked with safety Troy Polamalu during his time and saw him earn six Pro Bowl (2005-10) invites, named first team All-Pro three times (2005, 2008, 2010) and earn AP Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2010. During his time with the Steelers, he coached in three Super Bowls – winning Super Bowls XL and XLIII and losing in Super Bowl XLV.
Before arriving in Pittsburgh, Horton spent two seasons as the secondary coach with the Detroit Lions and five seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals as a secondary coach. He entered the coaching ranks as a defensive assistant for the Washington Redskins from 1994-96.
As a player, Horton was a second-round selection (53rd overall) by the Bengals in the 1983 NFL Draft. He played safety in 147 games, including 99 starts during his 10-year NFL career split between the Bengals (1983-88) and Dallas Cowboys (1989-92). He totaled 19 interceptions, 11 fumble recoveries, five forced fumbles and scored five defensive touchdowns during his career. He also appeared in two Super Bowls, playing for Cincinnati in Super Bowl XXIII and winning Super Bowl XXVII with Dallas.
A Tacoma, Wash. native, Horton was a three-year letterman at the University of Washington, earning All-Pac 10 honors and playing in two Rose Bowls. Horton is married to Karena and has a daughter, Taylor and a son, Jarren.