Cleveland Browns: A Guide to Ray Horton-“isms”
By Joel W. Cade
Our third Ray Horton-“ism” describes what he will be doing with his defensive scheme. Horton’s schemes are unpredictable in that even though traditional roles of linemen, linebackers and defensive backs are retained, they are unbalanced. Horton wants little guys doing what linemen and linebackers do. He also wants linebackers and linemen doing what defensive backs do. He wants “little guys go get sacks, big guys getting interceptions.”
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Horton’s scheme is a multiple-front attacking defense. The defense will provide multiple looks to an offense in order to confuse it. It will also attack. His vision of the 3-4 defense is not one in which linemen will double gap protecting linebackers allowing them to make plays. Horton’s defense wants everyone to make plays. For everyone to make plays, the defense must be aggressive and consist of players who can, occasionally, take on an “unusual” responsibility for their position.
For this to occur players, to a certain degree, must be interchangeable. Horton will design the defense in order to allow defensive backs the chance to rush the passer. To make that happen, a linebacker or lineman will occasionally take on coverage responsibility to “replace” the rusher’s responsibility. He will give linemen chances to make interceptions. In order to put a lineman in a position to make interceptions, defensive backs and linebackers may occasionally have to take on that lineman’s responsibility.
The exchanging of roles serves to keep the defense fun for the players but, more importantly, it keeps the offense wondering what crazy thing will happen next.
Horton’s defense will get after the passer both physically and mentally. Physically the Browns will attack the offense through blitzes. Mentally, it will confuse the quarterback by presenting multiple fronts with defenders exchanging responsibilities on occasion.
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In order to make this a reality, Horton needs his defense to simply understand the complex defense, be athletic enough to execute the scheme and be able take on non-traditional roles to keep the offense guessing.
Horton explained all of this to us in an amazing collection of one-liners affectionately known as Ray Horton-“isms.”