Former Arizona Cardinals and current Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Ray Horton made his way through the Phoenix media on Thursday. He first spoke on Arizona Sports 620's Burns and Gambo show, and then was on XTRA910 talking on the Bickley and MJ show in the afternoon.
The interviews gave him the opportunity to respond to some things that were discussed about the head coaching interview process with the Arizona Cardinals. Specifically, the supposed heated exchange between he and general manager Steve Keim came up, as well as his braids and whether or not Norv Turner would have been his offensive coordinator had Horton been the choice for head coach by Arizona.
There was a notion in the whole process that perhaps Horton did not get hired as a head coach because or his hair. Don't call what he has corn rows or dreads, Horton calls them simply "braids." No team brought them up as a problem, In fact, Horton brought them up to the teams, as he said, and the reaction was that it didn't matter. But he didn't want it to be "the elephant in the room."
What about that "heated discussion" we talked about here? According to Horton, it never happened. He didn't even talk to Keim the night in question. It was the Monday prior he sat down with Keim, as he noted in both interviews.
"Not true," he said. "The GM and I had not talked since Monday morning when we just sat down and had an open, honest communication and talk.
"I believe we have a great friendship, so there was no arguing, no yelling and no cursing. I respected the process that they went through and doing their due dilligence, and it was just time to move on."
That is what he said to Burns and Gambo. In his interview with Bickley and Jurecki, he was more hung up about who said what and how the report go out. Having heard the XTRA interview first, in that interview, I got the impression that there perhaps were some tense feelings there. The KTAR interview did not give me that impression.
In what was perhaps the most telling part of the interview, Horton revealed that he "unequivocally" had Norv Turner (and Mice Tice) as coaches for his offensive staff. In fact, Horton said that both Norv and his wife were excited to come to Arizona.
"Norv Turner was on Ray Horton's list to come to be the coordinator," Horton said. "We had spoken several times, Norv Turner and I, and he was excited about the opportunity."
This is interesting because many believed that if Horton were able to pull in some big names for the offensive coaching staff, which both Turner and Tice are, he would have been the guy. Also, it would also appear that all those reports about Turner being a done deal in Cleveland either were either completely false, people knew that Horton wasn't getting the job or Horton is fabricating this. I would go with the second part, being that after two interviews with Horton and then no communication, it meant that the team really was not super high on the idea of hiring Horton.
Horton himself got that impression. "No communication is communication," said Horton, meaning that when several days went by without hearing news from the team, he more or less knew that he wasn't getting the job. He did note that he has been around the league a long time and knew what it meant. "I'm not upset, but I am disappointed," he said.
This now begs the question -- why didn't the team hire Horton if he was able to haul in Turner and Tice? If I had to speculate, it had more to do with the quarterback situation than anything else. The team really wanted a guy who could develop a quarterback. Since the team said that they had their eye on Arians for a while, but logistics kept them from interviewing, they did what was supposed -- keep Horton in their back pocket and wait and see. If nothing better came along, they would extend that olive branch and apologize for the wait and then hire Horton.
He insists there are no hard feelings with Arians and new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. He said he was pleased with the honesty Arians had when he told Horton that he would not his his DC, despite their being friends and having worked together on the Steelers staff. "That's all you can ask," said Horton of the situation.
He even expected them to go golfing again together as they have for a long time.
If there were ever bad feelings, they have dissipated. Horton was very complimentary of the team and expects the Cardinals to find a lot of success under Arians and Bowles.
"Bruce is going to do a heck of a job," he said. "You watch, they're going to be averaging about 30 points per game and I believe Todd will continue to build upon what I did -- they're going to be winning games 30 to 10. They're going to be blowing people out."
Whether this was just a move to turn the tables on public perception or if this is really how he feels, he did well. He is being mature about it and he is not wishing ill on the team.
He clearly was trying to control the interview with Bickley and Jurecki and dodged several questions, but that was more than anything probably because he was upset that the names of his potential staff got out and Horton wasn't the one to leak it.
The one thing I found a little funny was how he insisted that had anyone asked him about whether Turner was going to be on his staff, he would have told them. However, he did not return a phone call to Jurecki. I was curious about the offensive staff thing because I thought someone had asked him about it after he talked the the Cardinals the first time.
He wasn't exactly forthcoming. All he said was "yes" when asked if he was ready to go with an offensive staff. Granted, I get why he didn't offer that information up, But he he could have offered a little bit of pressure to let the public know he wasn't bringing some inexperienced coordinators like Kirby Wilson (as it was suggested). At the same time, the reporter did not follow up on that "yes." I wonder if someone had asked on the record if Turner would have been on the staff, if he would have been that open. He wasn't as forthcoming when asked about how he woudl fix the offense. He didn't want that information getting out.
All in all, a good pair of interviews. I will say that the Burns and Gambo interview went better. Horton said more and was not defensive about some of the questions. If you get some time, listen to them both.
Of course, tell us what you think.
I think that, as mentioned earlier, it came down to what the front office felt Horton and his staff could do with the quarterback position, and probably the offensive line as well. Keim, as a former lineman himself, was probably thrilled at the idea of multiple offensive line staff. I think those two issues did Horton in and are why Arians is here.
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