AP Source: Browns fire defensive coordinator Ray Horton
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Browns forced a big turnover on defense.
Following a 1-15 season, Cleveland fired defensive coordinator Ray Horton on Saturday night and the Browns have an agreement in place for former Buffalo coach Gregg Williams to replace him, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. Williams was the Rams’ defensive coordinator the last three seasons.
Horton’s ouster is not unexpected and could be made official Sunday, said the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the moves.
This is the second time Horton has been dismissed after one season. He also was with Browns in 2013 on Rob Chudzinski’s staff.
It’s true that Horton didn’t have a ton of talent, and Cleveland lost Desmond Bryant, the club’s sacks leader last season, to an injury before training camp. But under Horton, the Browns ranked last or near last in virtually every major statistical category in 2016.
Linebacker Christian Kirksey had a breakout year and nose tackle Danny Shelton made major strides in his second season, but Cleveland’s defense didn’t improve enough and Horton took the fall.
Browns coach Hue Jackson said early in the week that he would consider changes to his staff and Horton became the first in a probable shakeup as the team tries to regroup after losing 14 straight games and finishing with the worst record in tea history.
The 58-year-old Williams will bring experience and some baggage to Cleveland.
He first became a coordinator in 1997 and worked his way through the ranks to become Buffalo’s head coach from 2001-03. However, he may be best known for being suspended by the NFL in 2012 for his role in the New Orleans “Bountygate” scandal.
Williams apologized for his actions in support of the pay-for-performance program and said there was never any malice to hurt opponents.
Williams ran the Rams defense under coach Jeff Fisher, who was fired before the end of the season. Los Angeles ranked 23rd overall in scoring and was 24th with 31 sacks.
Williams’ arrival could mean the Browns will switch from employing a 3-4 to a 4-3 scheme.