Horton confirms interview with Browns

The Browns officially have one interview in the books, and they received a rating of “fantastic” for it.

So … there’s that.

Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton confirmed he met with Joe Banner and Jimmy Haslam Tuesday night in the Phoenix area.

Horton then interviewed with the Cardinals on Wednesday, with an interview with the Bills to follow.

Though he said his preference is to stay with the Cardinals and become their coach, he gushed about the Browns interview.

“I’m excited about the opportunity here (in Arizona) and the fantastic interview I had with Cleveland last night and (I’m) going to try to knock Buffalo’s socks off,” Horton told the Arizona Republic.

Other than Horton, several names have been connected with the Browns as they ignite their search for a successor to Pat Shurmur, but the team has not confirmed any of them (Horton confirmed his interview himself). Owner Jimmy Haslam said the Browns would not confirm any candidates, which goes lockstep with the new NFL way of trying to keep everything secret.

That has not stopped a frenzy of information from being shared and re-shared. Several reports have the Browns interviewing Oregon’s Chip Kelly the day after the Fiesta Bowl. ESPN re-reported that report and attributed it to “reports.” Which led to reports that ESPN had “confirmed” the interview.


It would make complete sense for the Browns to interview Kelly.

His up-tempo offense as adapted by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady had great success in New England. His emphasis on speed and running plays quickly could change the entire NFL. If it works.

Will it?

“I don’t think anybody knows any answers until someone does it,” Kelly said at the Fiesta Bowl news conference. “The Washington Redskins are doing a pretty good job. I forgot the name of their quarterback, but I think he’s done a decent job
“The kid at Carolina has done a pretty good job.

“But it depends. I don’t know. I’ve never coached in that league. I visited practices and talked to people about it. The one thing about that, about everything, you have to have good players. “Sometimes the coaching aspect is way overrated. We don’t play the game.

“I think college football is a personnel-driven game; so is the NFL. Your job as a coach very simply is to put your players in positions to make plays, get out of the way and (let them) go make them.”

If it didn’t work the offense also could get a quarterback sidelined in a hurry, and wear out his defense.

Kelly is believed to want control over the roster, and the Browns have said they would give that authority to their coach. But there will be competition for Kelly, with Philadelphia, Kansas City and surely another surprise team ready  to jump in the mix.

“I don’t expect anything,” Kelly said. “I said this a million times. I’m never surprised by anything. I do not know what the future holds. I do know we have a football game tomorrow night and I’m going to be there.”

Others who are expected to interview for the Browns job include offensive line coach Aaron Kromer of the Saints, and coach Bill O’Brien of Penn State. O’Brien might be Kelly lite — he has NFL experience under Belichick, and took the up-tempo offense to Penn State last season. He has a combination of NFL experience and college head coaching experience that seems intriguing.

Another who might be interviewed cannot be contacted until next week because his team is in the wild card round of the playoffs, but Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians would be a very logical option.

As for the GM spot, Mike Lombardi’s name continues to circulate.

He was interviewed on 92.3-The Fan in Cleveland on Wednesday and said he’d listen if the Browns called.

Which means he will surely be a candidate if the Browns want him.

As for big name coaches Nick Saban (Alabama) and Jon Gruden (TV), the more time goes on the more it seems they will not be candidates with the Browns.

Saban has said he will stay at Alabama, and Gruden is not believed to want to work with Banner again.