April 24, 2014

Ray Horton to join Tennessee Titans as defensive coordinator

Ray HortonAs rumored yesterday, the Tennessee Titans have now reportedly hired Ray Horton to be their new defensive coordinator.

Today’s confirmation was first reported by the Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot. On Friday, the rumor that Horton was the Titans’ preferred choice was shared by The Tennessean’s Jim Wyatt.

In Tennessee, Horton will reunite with new head coach Ken Whisenhunt, a three-time interviewee over the past two seasons for the Browns opening. Horton was Whisenhunt’s defensive coordinator in Arizona from 2011-2012. They both have a background of working for the Pittsburgh Steelers organization.

Horton, 53, had a difficult year in Cleveland. Despite his reputation as a very good coordinator with an attacking hybrid defense, the team’s unit was one of the NFL’s worst in the second half of the season, the second half of games and in third-down situations. The pass rush — bolstered by new additions Paul Kruger, Desmond Bryant and rookie Barkevious Mingo — regressed mightily down the stretch.

Throughout the process, the Browns were letting Horton interview for any position, even lateral moves. Two weeks ago, he interviewed for the Minnesota Vikings vacancy. That position was later filled by Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. They then brought on former Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who also spent only one season in Cleveland..

Including those two, the Browns have now reportedly lost five members of its coaching staff from 2013. The other three: DL coach Joe Cullen to Tampa Bay, OLB coach Brian Baker to Washington and TE coach Jon Embree to Tampa Bay.

[Related: The Demographic Debate: Which Browns fans have it worse?]

Photo: AP Photo/Tony Dejak

Steelers Depot helps break down the Browns and their coaching search – WFNY Podcast – 2014-01-15

WFNY Podcast LogoDave Bryan from Steelers Depot (@SteelersDepot) is one of the best podcast guests we have. He’s super knowledgable, and is always great at breaking down what’s happening without the rose-colored glasses.

  • Dave Bryan and not being a homer for the Steelers
  • Is there ever a justification for firing a coach after one year?
  • Brian Hoyer and whether he can get the Browns to the next franchise QB
  • The perception of the Browns head coaching job
  • Adam Gase and why is he such an attractive candidate?
  • Josh McDaniels and his taking his name out
  • Jim Caldwell and Whisenhunt
  • Jake Locker and what can become of it
  • Chris Johnson and his poison contract
  • Ray Horton ending up with Whisenhunt in Tennessee
  • Ray Horton’s defense and Dick LeBeau’s defense
  • Chud talking to other potential coaching candidates
  • The hiring of Mike Tomlin in Pittsburgh
  • T.J. Ward and Alex Mack better be brought back
  • Alex Mack and how the Browns need to bring him back
  • Moving Schwartz to guard and getting a new right tackle
  • The All-22 version of the national championship game
  • Football attendance at games
  • Making NFL stadiums smaller over time
  • Browns fan experience in the stadium is far better
  • The government attacking TV blackout policies
  • Dave would be shocked if the Browns didn’t bring back Ward and Mack
  • Did the Browns waste a year of not front-loading deals?
  • The Browns can only franchise one player between Ward and Mack
  • The Steelers and the Shamarko Thomas deal with Cleveland
  • Johnny Football and whether the Steelers would be concerned about him
  • Johnny Manziel is a guy that you root against
  • Manziel as a boom or bust guy
  • Could Brian Hoyer be that bridge to the QB of the future?
  • The Ben Roethlisberger extension

Check out this episode

Tennessee Titans hire Ken Whisenhunt as head coach

NFL: Preseason-Seattle Seahawks at San Diego ChargersThe Tennessee Titans have hired three-time Cleveland Browns interview candidate Ken Whisenhunt as their new head coach.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen first reported the news on Twitter at about 6:15 p.m. Monday. Within the next hour, the Titans officially confirmed the move.

Whisenhunt, 51, had just finished his lone season as the San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator on Sunday in the AFC Divisional Round. He had been the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals from 2007-2012.

Last year, during the Browns coaching search, Whisenhunt interviewed for the position twice. Initially this time around, the Cleveland front office announced they wouldn’t be re-interviewing any repeat candidates. But as announced in the news on Thursday: The two sides met on Saturday in San Diego for Whisenhunt’s third and final interview of the week.

It had been assumed that the former Pittsburgh Steelers assistant was likely headed to Detroit for their head coach opening. The Lions have Matthew Stafford at quarterback and Calvin Johnson at wide receiver, making them a possibly enviable destination for a veteran head coach.

Additionally, Tennessee’s firing of Mike Munchak — also a reported new Browns interview target — was a bit suspect. The team was requiring their three-year coach to axe some of his assistants. But Munchak had spent over 30 years with the organization as a player and coach and was unwilling to do so. He was fired on Jan. 4.

Whisenhunt had moderate success with the Cardinals despite a rotating crew over at quarterback post-Kurt Warner. In Tennessee, he inherits a 7-9 squad that barely missed the playoffs. Young QB Jake Locker showed some signs of success this past year. The organization will have the No. 11 draft pick in April.

[Related: The Dude, Michael, and Joey…who loved bowling]

Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Browns to reportedly interview Ken Whisenhunt on Saturday

whisenhuntSan Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt will reportedly interview with the Cleveland Browns on Saturday, according to perhaps somewhat of a surprise report on Thursday.

Whisenhunt, 51, interviewed twice for the Browns head coaching position last year as well. Previously, CEO Joe Banner announced that the team would not be interviewing repeat candidates during this year’s process.

It had appeared that Whisenhunt, former six-year head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, was the presumed favorite for the Detroit Lions opening. His surging team remains in the playoffs, however, opening the door for additional interviews, and New England’s Josh McDaniels pulled out of the running for the Cleveland gig.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter has the report this morning, as Whisenhunt’s busy week lines up before the Chargers play at Denver on Sunday in the NFL Divisional Round:

Last year, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported that the Whisenhunt-Browns talks broke down over the composition of his possible coaching staff. Reportedly, the team’s front office wanted to have input on his staff, a typical process for a rookie head coach, not a veteran. The Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot later rebuked that claim via a contrasting source. But that process sounds very familiar to many other denials over the past 12 months.

The Browns recently interviewed Green Bay quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo. They reportedly remain high on Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase. Now with McDaniels’ absence, there really aren’t a whole lot of familiar names in the current process. That changes with Whisenhunt getting the surprise third try this weekend.

[Related: The Cleveland Browns are playing a high stakes version of ‘This or That’]

Photo: Sean M. Haffey/The San Diego Union-Tribune

NFL News: Ken Whisenhunt back in Berea to meet with Browns

Adding his name to the list of those who have met with the Cleveland Browns more than once is former Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt.

The Browns met with Whisenhunt one week ago while they were out in Arizona for Operation: Ducktales1.  

Whisenhunt, who was fired Monday by the Cardinals, also has interviewed with the Buffalo Bills. He was one of the longest-tenured head coaches in the NFL prior to his firing, leading the Cardinals to their first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history during the 2008 season. He went 1-11 over his final 12 games with the Cards in 2012.

[Related: Mike Polk blasts Browns coaching search with (tragic) comedy]

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Footnotes:

  1. Ooh-ooh []

NFL Report: Trestman interviewed today in Cleveland

According to Tom Withers, the Browns have interviewed Marc Trestman-

“Trestman interviewed with the Chicago Bears for eight hours Monday night and arrived at the Browns’ facility in suburban Berea late Tuesday morning, said the person who spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the search. He is the fifth known candidate to interview with the Browns, seeking their sixth fulltime coach since 1999 after firing Pat Shurmur last week.

Trestman was the Browns’ quarterbacks coach in 1988 and their offensive coordinator in 1989, when Cleveland appeared in its third AFC title game in four years with quarterback Bernie Kosar. Trestman has extensive background as an NFL assistant, working with eight teams, most recently Miami in 2004.”

The Browns have now interviewed Trestman, Chip Kelly, Ken Whisenhunt, Ray Horton, Bill O’Brien, and Doug Marrone, who was hired by Buffalo. Kelly and O’Brien decided to stay with their college teams.

[Related: Saban to NFL, no thanks]

Reports: Browns rebooting head coach search without Chip Kelly

What a difference two days and a lunch running into dinner makes.

The Browns’ contingency has left Arizona where they interviewed Chip Kelly on Friday among many others this week. According to various reports, including ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, they are heading back to Cleveland to regroup and continue the coaching search with Kelly’s name crossed off the list.

This too, from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, seems to hammer it home.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, who originally reported that the Browns and Kelly were close to an agreement, says that super-booster Phil Knight is pulling Kelly back to Oregon.

So, where do the Browns go from here? Bill O’Brien and Doug Marrone, who the Browns interviewed as well, are now off the board in addition to Kelly. That leaves former Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt and Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton as the two candidates the Browns have interviewed that are still in play.

It’s certainly possible that the Browns open the search back up again with several other viable candidates still out there.

[Related: NFL Rumor: Chip Kelly could stay at Oregon]