The toughest division in football just got tougher for the Bengals, thanks to one of their own.
Thirty years ago the Bengals drafted Washington cornerback Ray Horton in the second round, hired him 16 years ago as a secondary coach, and on Friday saw the Cleveland Browns hire him as their defensive coordinator. Horton, who played and coached for Dick LeBeau in Cincinnati and then later in Pittsburgh, brings two years of solid work as Arizona’s defensive coordinator, including this past season when the defense kept a quarterback-less franchise breathing.
And he apparently let new Cardinals general manager Steve Keim know it when they reportedly had a heated exchange after Arizona hired Bruce Arians to be the head coach instead of Horton.
Per a Browns press release via The Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Horton’s unit this past season:
Led the NFL in passer rating allowed (71.2) and interception percentage (4.4), ranked second in the NFL in interceptions (22) and third-down efficiency (32.9 percent), third in red zone defense (44.4 percent) and fourth in takeaways (33). The defense also ranked fifth in passing defense (200.8 ypg), first downs allowed (288) and points allowed per drive (1.42).
That makes quite a trio in the AC North with LeBeau bringing back the NFL’s No. 1 defense, Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer weighing in with the No. 6 unit and Horton, the LeBeau clone, bringing back elements of the zone blitz from the desert. Horton could also be bringing back secondary coach Louie Cioffi, the man he took to Arizona in 2011 after he worked for 14 seasons with the Bengals.
Horton interviewed for the Browns head coaching job back on Jan. 1 and told the Plain-Dealer he had a “fantastic” interview while predicting he would be a head coach this season. It sounds like he would have been if it wasn’t for Keim.
HUE UPDATE: The status of Bengals defensive assistant Hue Jackson is unclear. He interviewed for the Panthers offensive coordinator job that went on Friday to Carolina quarterbacks coach Mike Shula. At the moment, the Bengals don’t look like they’re making changes on offense.
SMITH ARRESTED: NFL discipline may await right tackle Andre Smith after he was arrested Thursday when Atlanta police say they found a loaded .380 pistol in Smith’s carry-on bag when he tried to board a plane at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. He appeared in court Friday morning and was issued a $3,000 bond. TV reports indicated that Smith wasn’t aware he had the gun with him.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported Friday that former Browns defensive tackle Shaun Rogers was fined but not suspended for the same thing at the Cleveland airport in 2010. The league is saying that it is looking into the case to see if Smith, arrested for the first time, violated the personal conduct policy and reports that in the last three years seven players have been arrested in cases involving guns.
Tags: Andre Smith, Dick LeBeau, Hue Jackson, Mike Zimmer, Ray Horton
Posted in Hobson's Choice | No Comments »
Hue Jackson could have had a field day Sunday. Instead, he went on the field pregame at Paul Brown Stadium and chatted with any Raider that would have him and then watched his Bengals dismantle the team he took within five minutes of the playoffs last year.
After Sunday’s 34-10 victory over the team that fired him last year after one year as head coach, the Raiders look like they’re five minutes away from the second pick in the draft.
But Jackson kept it classy. After all, he’s reportedly already in the mix for the head coaching job at California. He knows people are going to say this was a sweet one for him.
“People will say this. I can look at it in my own mind and maybe felt that it was because I know those players and I’ve been in that organization with Coach (Al) Davis and the rest of the players and his son Mark (Davis),” he said after the game in the Bengals locker room. “But at the end of the day it was just another football game, a game we needed to win and I think our guys did a great job. Kudos to the offense, defense and special teams; it was a team win.”
Asked just exactly how good it felt, Jackson smiled.
“It does,” he said. “To win again and be 6-5 and going to San Diego, no question it does.”
Jackson said he had to separate the emotion from Sunday. It couldn’t be emotional, he said, even though those were his players out there and that was his quarterback he traded for with a first- and second-round pick that now, with the help of his firing, makes it one of the biggest steals in NFL history.
With Jackson molding him into his system on the fly last year, Palmer was 4-5 as the starter and if the Raiders held on to a fourth-quarter lead in the finale it would have been 5-5 and the playoffs. Now they’re 3-8.
“It couldn’t be (emotional),” Jackson said. “I think when I first start to see anybody, obviously a lot of old emotions and feelings come back and mainly what they were with Coach Davis. That’s a team that I know really well and I know the owner was someone that was very near and dear to me. Once we kick the ball off, it’s time to go play.”
Palmer hasn’t only been silent on his situation with the Bengals, but he hasn’t had much to say about Jackson in staying true to his desire to stay away from headlines and controversy.
The two did speak before and after Sunday’s game.
“I have a lot of respect for Carson. Carson’s a tremendous football player and that’s never going to change as far as I’m concerned,” Jackson said. “I wish him luck. I wanted to make sure him and his family are doing well and I’m sure we’ll run into each other somewhere down the line.”
Tags: Carson Palmer, Hue Jackson
Posted in Hobson's Choice | 1 Comment »
Count T.J. Houshmandzadeh as an interested bystander in the Hue Jackson signing.
“I saw that and I was thinking, ‘What are the Bengals doing? It’s like they’re putting together an all-star coaching staff,’ ” he said this weekend. “They’re stacked.”
Houshmandzadeh, who jump-started his career in his fourth season when Jackson became the Bengals wide receivers coach, thinks it makes plenty of sense to fit Jackson in on the defensive side of the ball as an assistant secondary coach. In a part-time role for him during the last half of 2011, Houshmandzadeh saw what Jackson did this past year in his only season as the Raiders head coach with an injury-riddled offense in transition.
With quarterback Carson Palmer not arriving until the sixth week of the regular season and No. 1 running back Darren McFadden missing the last nine games, the Raiders still finished ninth in offense and a win away from taking the AFC West title.
“Hue knows offense. He knows it as well as anyone in the league. He’s one of the best offensive coaches there is,” Houshmandzadeh said. “He can help the defense get ready for that. He can help the defense break that down and he can help the DBs with what to expect. And he’s got Mike Zimmer and I think he’s the best defensive coordinator. I was really impressed with him the one year I was there. And you’ve got Marvin (Lewis) on defense, too.”
Houshmandzadeh’s last season with the Bengals was 2008 and even though that was two playoff appearances ago, he thinks he’s still got a pretty good feel for the guys that he worked with, such as running backs coach Jim Anderson and quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese.
“I worked enough with Kenny to know he’s a good one and you know J.A. has to be good at what he does because he’s been doing it so long (29 years),” he said. “Obviously I wasn’t there with (offensive coordinator) Jay Gruden, but for them to do what he did in his first year, you know he’s got to be a good coach. And Darrin (Simmons) is one of the best special teams coaches in the league.”
Heading into his 10th season, Lewis not only has developed a young crop of players that has already made the playoffs, but he’s put together his biggest named staff. There is a former head coach (Jackson), a coach that interviewed for two head coaching jobs last month (Zimmer) and a coach that turned down two interviews for head coaching jobs (Gruden).
Houshmandzadeh thought Jackson had the Raiders on the verge of big things with the acquisition of Palmer, but he wasn’t all that surprised when new general manager Reggie McKenzie fired Jackson.
“Hue did a great job in one year and you have to figure it was only going to get better on offense,” Houshmandzadeh said. “But at the same time I can understand that the guy wants to be comfortable with his head coach and wants to make sure he gets a guy that’s on the same page.”
Houshmandzadeh, who turns 35 the third week of this season, says he wants to keep playing and is looking. If not, expect him announcing for somebody.
Tags: Carson Palmer, Hue Jackson, Jay Gruden, Marvin Lewis, Mike Zimmer, T.J. Houshmandzadeh
Posted in Hobson's Choice | 11 Comments »