Ray Horton won’t be back as the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator. FOX Sports Arizona confirmed Friday that Horton and the team have parted ways following the hiring of new coach Bruce Arians.
The 52-year-old Horton had been considered one of the frontrunners for the Cardinals’ head coaching job — he was the first to interview for it — after overseeing the defense for the last two seasons. Local radio host Mike Jurecki and USA Today’s Mike Garafolo indicated Friday that Horton was upset with the team’s front office, believing he would be the hire after Mike McCoy, another candidate for the job with whom the Cardinals had requested a second interview, accepted the Chargers’ coaching job instead. ESPN’s Adam Schefter also tweeted Thursday night that, as of an hour after the Cardinals’ announcement of hiring Arians, Horton had still not received a call from the team informing him that a decision had been made.
The Cardinals finished the 2012 season 12th in yards allowed and 17th in scoring defense after finishing 18th and 17th in those categories in 2011. Those numbers were skewed to some extent by the struggles on offense, though; according to advanced stats weighted for schedule, field position and other factors, the Cards’ defense ranked sixth overall this year after finishing 20th in 2011.
Outside linebacker O’Brien Schofield, who will be entering his second year as a starter after tallying 34 tackles and two sacks this past season, said Friday that he was disappointed to hear of Horton’s departure.
“It’s tough because this will be my third D-coordinator, and I felt the direction we were going as a defense was looking to be really great,” Schofield said. “We started having young guys step up and seeing more guys could play.
“It really sucks, because I think Ray is a good coach. He’s done a lot for the defense, the organization and me as a player personally. I just want to wish him the best.”
There have been widespread reports that Arians plans to bring in Todd Bowles, who was promoted from secondary coach to defensive coordinator by the Eagles early in the 2012 season, but that has not been confirmed, and Arians declined to speculate about the position during his media availability Thursday.
Horton was given permission to talk to other teams, and it was reported Friday afternoon that he had been hired by the Browns as defensive coordinator under new coach Rob Chudzinski.