Coaching candidate: Ray Horton
Contact: Expected to interview with the Vikings today in Phoenix
Head coaching experience: None
NFL coaching experience: 19 seasons
1994-96 – Defensive assistant/assistant defensive backs coach for the Redskins
1997-2001 – Defensive backs coach for the Bengals
2002-03 – Secondary coach for the Lions
2004-2010 – Assistant defensive backs coach/defensive backs coach for the Steelers
2011-12 – Defensive coordinator for the Cardinals
2013-present – Defensive coordinator for the Browns
The Vikings are interviewing two candidates in Phoenix this week: Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and his predecessor, Horton.
The Tacoma, Wash. native guided the Browns to a top-10 defense in total yards (332.4 ypg) and the eighth ranked pass defense (221.1 ypg). The Browns were 23rd in total defense (363.8 ypg) and 25 in pass defense (245.2 ypg) last season before Horton became defensive coordinator.
During his two seasons as defensive coordinator with the Cardinals, the defense finished in the top-two in third down defense (first in 2011 at 31.4 percent; second in 2012 at 32.9 percent). In 2011, the Cardinals’s defense allowed 34 total touchdowns, their fewest since 1994.
Horton spent his longest tenure with the Steelers under defensive coordinator and Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau, who coached Horton out of college (Washington) in 1983 as defensive coordinator for the Bengals. He played under LeBeau for six seasons and coached with him during his tenure with the Bengals (1997-2001) before reuniting in Pittsburgh.
Once Mike Tomlin was named head coach of the Steelers, Horton was promoted to defensive backs coach. Horton is credited with developing safety Troy Polamalu. The Steelers finished in the top 10 in total defense during Horton’s entire tenure, with five seasons finishing in the top five.
Horton spent 10 seasons in the NFL as a defensive back with the Bengals and Cowboys. He played in two Super Bowls and won one (Super Bowl XXVII) with Dallas that ended up as the final game in his career. Horton also earned All-America and All-Pac 10 honors at Washington and played in two Rose Bowls as a three-year starter.