After the long wait since the firing of Billy Davis, we finally know who the new Defensive Coordinator will be for the Cardinals next season. A lot of us expected Steelers Linebackers coach Keith Butler who is also a long time friend of Coach Whisenhunt to come over, but the Steelers would not let him come to Arizona, so instead we found another way to raid the Steelers and bring their Secondary coach Ray Horton to the valley of the sun with a three year contract to serve as the new Defensive Coordinator.
During his introductory press conference, Horton said that he is ready for the challenge of turning around the Cardinals defense after they ranked almost dead last in almost every major statistical category last season (The only category where they did have a high ranking was Red Zone defense where they were among the top 5) and he wants to help get the Cardinals back in the playoffs as soon as possible along with bringing a Top 10 Defense to Arizona. Horton said that he plans to install an "Aggressive, disciplined, downhill attacking defense," and "Our motto is going to be: 'Go get 'em'. We're going to make the quarterback very uncomfortable."
Horton has been a disciple of Steelers Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau for many years, beginning with his role as a Defensive Backs coach for the Cincinati Bengals under LeBeau from 1997 until 2001 where he went to serve the same role with the Lions until LeBeau brought him over to the Steelers in 2004. Overall, Horton has spent 17 years coaching in the NFL. He also played for 10 years as a Cornerback with the Bengals and the Cowboys, he also played in Super Bowl XXLL and XXVII. Horton also played collegiate football at the University of Washington where he also earned All Pac-10 honors.
The 2010 Defensive Player of the Year, Troy Polamalu also believes that Horton has what it takes to be a good Defensive Coordinator. "First of all, he's got the toughest job on this team, coaching the secondary," Polamalu told the Philadelphia Daily News last week. "The reason I say that is, we're always a run-stop defense first. There's always a lot of pressure for the secondary to tackle, but our responsibility is not to get beat deep. That's a lot of pressure for the players and the secondary coach. He's been here a long time and he's handled that. He has an in- depth understanding of the defense coach (Dick) LeBeau teaches, and he has an in-depth understanding of what the offense is doing, personnel groups, percentages." Last season, Polamalu and the Steelers ranked second in overall defense, 12th in passing defense and first in points allowed.
The Cardinals and Coach Whisenhunt are hoping that Horton can bring what he learned under Dick LeBeau to Arizona, and help create the Pittsburgh style Defense he has been trying to create ever since he came to Arizona in 2007.