October 21, 2014

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Coordinators Ray Horton, Norv Turner leave Browns for other jobs

Ray Horton

Ray Horton

Norv Turner

Norv Turner

A year ago, coordinators Norv Turner and Ray Horton were trumpeted by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner as important hires that would ease rookie coach Rob Chudzinski’s transition into the job and help turn around the franchise’s fortunes.

Three weeks after Chudzinski was fired, Turner and Horton are also gone.

Turner finalized a deal to become offensive coordinator of the Vikings on Saturday, according to reports, joining new head coach Mike Zimmer. Ray Horton accepted a deal as defensive coordinator of the Titans, according to reports. New Tennessee coach Ken Whisenhunt worked with Horton in Pittsburgh and Arizona.

Turner and Horton had their ups and downs in their lone season in Cleveland. Neither was expected to return after Chudzinski’s surprising firing Dec. 29, hours after the 4-12 season ended. The length of the ongoing coaching search removed the possibility of either returning under the next coach.

Horton’s fall from grace was fast. He interviewed for the head coaching job before it was given to Chudzinski, talked often with Haslam during practices and fans were worried at midseason that he would leave after the season to become a head coach.

Horton’s defense was ranked near the top of the NFL for much of the season, and he predicted it would hit its stride by Thanksgiving. Instead, the defense blew three straight fourth-quarter leads in December as the Browns lost seven in a row to end the season and get Chudzinski fired. Horton interviewed for the Vikings’ head coaching job but was never considered a favorite.

Cleveland’s defense finished ranked ninth overall, 18th against the run and eighth against the pass. It allowed 25.4 points a game, 23rd in the league.

“I’m really disappointed that I didn’t do a better job of helping our team win more games,” Horton said Dec. 26 before the finale. “I’m disappointed that I didn’t get our guys, my guys, better equipped to finish whether it’s the fourth quarter or however that comes out because we didn’t finish, and that falls on my shoulders.”

Turner, who has 29 years in the NFL, including 15 in three stints as a head coach, led an offense that ranked 18th overall, tied for 27th rushing and 11th passing. The Browns were 27th with 19.25 points a game.

Turner was hamstrung by an inept running game and having to use three quarterbacks. He was also hurt by the lack of a legitimate second wide receiver.

But Turner’s downfield passing attack showed its value throughout the season. Despite drawing the majority of the attention from defenses, second-year receiver Josh Gordon and third-year tight end Jordan Cameron had breakout seasons.

Gordon continued to get open despite setting franchise and NFL records. He led the league with a franchise-record 1,646 yards and 18.9 per catch, and caught 87 passes and nine touchdowns.

Cameron answered many of the preseason questions about him. He caught 80 passes for 917 yards and seven touchdowns.

Gordon and Cameron earned their first Pro Bowl invitations, and Gordon was voted an All-Pro.

Bess update
Troubled Browns receiver Davone Bess posted a picture on his Twitter account of him standing naked in front of a mirror. The picture, which was taken from behind, was deleted.

The Miami Herald also reported authorities were called to the Coral Springs (Fla.) Marriott on Saturday morning on a medical call for Bess. He received medical assistance and no arrest was made.

Bess was arrested Friday morning at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. He was accused of assaulting an officer, disorderly conduct and resisting an officer.

Notes
Offensive line coach George Warhop was hired by Tampa Bay after five years in Cleveland. Warhop joined the Browns under coach Eric Mangini and stayed despite switches to Pat Shurmur and Chudzinski.

New Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith has added three assistants from Chudzinski’s staff. Warhop was preceded by defensive line coach Joe Cullen and tight ends coach Jon Embree.

** Assistant general manager Ray Farmer is a finalist for the Dolphins general manager job, according to multiple reports. Farmer joined Cleveland in March.

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @scottpetrak.