Browns coach Rob Chudzinski and defensive coordinator Ray Horton seem to have a disagreement on what kind of defense they’ll run.
Chudzinski repeated Thursday night at the Cleveland Sports Awards that the Browns will use a hybrid of 3-4 and 4-3 schemes. He’s stressed scheme flexibility several times since he was hired Jan. 10.
Two thousand miles away on Arizona airwaves, Horton told 910-AM he’s sticking with the 3-4 he used as coordinator with the Cardinals.
“It won’t be a hybrid, not unless we’re playing golf,” Horton said. “It will be the same defense we ran here. It’ll be a stick-’em defense, go get ’em. That’s what we do.”
The Browns ran a 4-3 the last two seasons under former coordinator Dick Jauron after six years in the 3-4 under coaches Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini. Horton’s 3-4 scheme is more aggressive after spending seven years working for Steelers coordinator Dick LeBeau.
“On defense, we’re going to be mirror teams,” Horton said of the Steelers. “We’re going to look exactly the same. We want to be one of the top defenses in the league.”
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam spent time with LeBeau and Horton as a minority owner of the Steelers and interviewed Horton for Cleveland’s head coaching job.
“I think he’ll relate extremely well to players. I think the players will like him,” Haslam said. “I think it’ll be an attacking defense. I think he told me in Phoenix with the Arizona Cardinals that he blitzed more than anybody in the league except for the Houston Texans. So I think it’ll be exciting and fun to watch.”
The biggest issue with a switch to the 3-4 is how core members of the defense fit. Tackle Phil Taylor and end Jabaal Sheard were drafted to play in a 4-3, while middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson’s play was much improved in the 4-3 after years in the 3-4.
The Browns will also have to add pass-rushing outside linebackers, which are the key to a successful 3-4. Brian Baker was hired Thursday to coach them.
Horton interviewed for head coaching jobs with the Browns, Cardinals and Bills and said Norv Turner was on board to be his offensive coordinator if he got the job in Arizona. The Cardinals instead hired Bruce Arians, and Turner was hired by Chudzinski.
“He was excited,” Horton said of Turner, who gave him his first coaching job with the Washington Redskins in 1994. “His wife was ecstatic about it.”
Chudzinski was asked about Horton’s claim.
“I’m just glad they’re both here,” he said. “It couldn’t have worked out better for us.
“There was a lot of pitch to Norv. After I got the job, I had to put on the recruiting hat and do one of my best recruiting jobs to get Norv here.”
Horton is expected to be introduced to the media next week.