On Tuesday afternoon, defensive coordinator Ray Horton spoke to the media gathered in Berea. One of the messages he was trying to communicate to the fans, through said media, was to be patient with the defense.
“During the lock-out season we had no practices,” Horton said. “We opened up training camp installing a totally new defense. It takes a little time, but at the end of the year statistically you know it works. I keep preaching patience. There’s a learning curve.”
Horton continued, “Going from a 4-3, cover two style defense to a 3-4, 5-2, 4-4… I told you we were going to be a multiple front. Move guys around. Quality depth. Can Buster play free safety? Can Mingo stand up? Can Paul (Kruger) stand up? Can Phil Taylor drop? Do I expect us to walk out there tomorrow and say wow we’re great? No, but I know we’re going to get better everyday.
“My first goal is that at our first game at home in the Dawg Pound the guys come up and start cheering. You will see the growth, because we’re not going to get there today. You can’t win it in the first game, but we’re going to try and get better and better and better and statistically this defense works. I know it, and I know what the numbers say. We’ve got good players, and it’s going to be a process, it’s going to be a learning curve.”
What Horton is saying makes complete sense, that the defense at the end of the year will be better than what they look like in week one, especially because of installing a new system.
However, in a town in which fans have heard about ‘process’ and ‘patience’ for the last ten years, will this preaching fall on deaf ears?
There can be no question that the Browns invested more into the defensive side of the ball this off season than the offense. Free agent signings of Paul Kruger, Desmond Bryant and Quentin Groves plus the additions of Barkevious Mingo, Leon McFadden and Jamoris Slaughter signaled that the Browns were serious about improving the defense immediately. As did the hiring of Ray Horton himself.
Excitement over the Browns is growing, as it always does this time of year. Horton’s defense is a big reason why. Today, Joe Banner announced that the Browns had a 94% renewal on season tickets and have sold more new season tickets than any period since 1999.
Horton commented on Tuesday that the defense is not the identity of the team, but that the Dawg Pound was. The Dawg Poung is fine giving that title back to the defense though coach.