NFL Insider: ‘Debatable’ Ray Horton will get head coaching position

Jan 1, 2013, 2:26 AM | Updated: 2:45 am

While the Arizona Cardinals did some notable housecleaning Monday — firing head coach Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves — after their second 5-11 season in three years, one employee’s job security was never in doubt: Ray Horton.

Despite yet another season to forget on the offensive side of the ball, the defensive coordinator’s unit played playoff-caliber football regardless of what the win-loss total might indicate.

From the Patrick Peterson’s development at cornerback to the maturation of Daryl Washington to the emergence of guys like Rashad Johnson and Sam Acho, Horton’s fingerprints are all over the team’s tremendous strides on defense. So much so, that President Michael Bidwill included the 52-year-old among the candidates the organization will interview for its new head coaching vacancy.

While Horton has proven himself at each of his five NFL stops (Washington Redskins, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona), one ESPN insider isn’t so sure he’s ready for the promotion.

“It’s debatable,” ESPN Insider John Clayton said about Horton’s head coaching prospects to Arizona Sports 620’s Doug & Wolf Monday. “He’s definitely going to get some interests. I mean you can already see that the phone lines are making a lot of calls.”

Although Arizona might be fond of Horton’s head coaching potential, Clayton said don’t be surprised if the Buffalo Bills also join the pursuit. The Bills’ Director of Pro Personnel, Doug Whaley, spent 10 seasons in Pittsburgh and is well-aware of Horton’s ability to lead.

“He’s definitely going to get consideration in Arizona, which he deserves,” said Clayton. “But in the end, two years as a coordinator is pretty early to make a jump to head coach. It’s one thing to jump, it’s another thing to succeed.”

Horton has certainly succeeded during his two years with the Cardinals. In 2012, Arizona’s defense under Horton ranked No. 2 in third down defense (allowed just 32.9 percent of all attempted conversions), No. 4 in takeaways (34) and No. 5 in pass defense (allowed 200.8 yards per game).

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals' Kyler Murray (1) participates during the team's NFL football practice, Wednesday...
Nikash Nath

Cardinals’ Kyler Murray among top 5 QBs in multiple PFF passing metrics

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray's accuracy was on point in 2021, especially when looking at deep throws.
2 days ago
Arizona Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons #9 during the NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals an...
Nikash Nath

PFF’s Renner: Cardinals’ Isaiah Simmons a breakout candidate in Year 3

Cardinals' inside linebacker Isaiah Simmons was named a potential year three breakout candidate by PFF's Michael Renner.
1 day ago
Rodney Hudson #61 of the Arizona Cardinals in the huddle during the game against the Tennessee Tita...
Wills Rice

Former Cardinals C A.Q. Shipley thinks offense needs to find identity

"For (Kyler) the next step is just grabbing everyone around him, whether he just needs one play and everyone will look to him," Shipley said.
2 days ago
General Manager Steve Keim of the Arizona Cardinals looks on prior to the game against the Baltimor...
Tyler Drake

Important NFL dates to remember and how they impact Arizona Cardinals

A look at the important league dates to circle on your calendar and how they relate to the Arizona Cardinals' roster decisions.
2 days ago
Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury takes notes as he watches players taking part in drill...
Tyler Drake

Looming questions for the Arizona Cardinals ahead of training camp

There are quite a few questions marks surrounding the Arizona Cardinals ahead of training camp this offseason.
2 days ago
(Twitter photo/New England Patriots)...
Wills Rice

New England Patriots bring back red uniforms in Back to the Future spoof

The New England Patriots announced the team is bringing back their old-school red uniform and helmet combo for the 2022 season.
3 days ago
NFL Insider: ‘Debatable’ Ray Horton will get head coaching position