Ray Horton enters his second season with the Cardinals as defensive coordinator after being hired on 2/9/11. Beginning his 19th year as an NFL assistant, Horton came to Arizona after spending seven seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, including the last four years as the team’s defensive backs coach.
In Horton’s first season with the Cardinals, his defense made great strides throughout the season, especially in the second half of the year. In addition to helping to only allow 34 total TD’s on the season (fewest since 1994) and having the top defense in the NFL on third down (31.4%) in 2011, the Cardinals defense over the final nine games had the top redzone defense (27.6%) and ranked third in the NFL in TDs allowed (12) and sacks (26). The unit featured Pro Bowler SS Adrian Wilson and was led by DE Calais Campbell (eight sacks) and young defenders LB Daryl Washington (111 tackles), LB Sam Acho (seven sacks) and CB Patrick Peterson (two INTs, 13 passes defensed).
Horton began his Steelers coaching tenure in 2004 as an assistant defensive backs coach and was promoted to defensive backs coach in 2007 after Mike Tomlin was hired. During his time in Pittsburgh, Horton served on staffs that made three Super Bowl trips over a six-year span (Super Bowl XL, Super Bowl XLIII, and Super Bowl XLV).
Following Horton’s arrival in Pittsburgh in 2004, the Steelers ranked in the top 10 in the NFL in total defense each season, including finishing in the top five six times and as the league leader on three different occasions (2004, ’07-08). He was instrumental in the development of 2010 AP Defensive Player of the Year and perennial All-Pro safety Troy Polamalu, who was selected to six consecutive Pro Bowls (2005-10) under Horton and also was named a first-team All-Pro three different times (2005, 2008, 2010). Horton also helped develop cornerback Ike Taylor into a Pro Bowl quality player, as he had two interceptions to go along with 72 tackles and 11 passes defensed in 2010 as the team’s number one cornerback.
During his tenure in Pittsburgh, Horton coached under legendary defensive coordinator and Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau. His connection with LeBeau took him back to when he entered the league as a player in 1983, as the Cincinnati Bengals and LeBeau drafted him out of the University of Washington. Horton played under LeBeau in Cincinnati for six seasons and also coached with LeBeau on the Bengals staff for five seasons before later reuniting with him with the Steelers in 2004.
Following a 10-year NFL career as a defensive back, Horton began his coaching career as a defensive assistant with the Washington Redskins in 1994. He was promoted to assistant defensive backs coach in 1995 where he coached for two seasons and worked with Hall of Famer Darrell Green. He was then hired to coach the Bengals defensive backs in 1997 where he remained for five seasons (1997-2001) until he was hired to coach the Detroit Lions secondary for two seasons (2002-03).
Horton was selected by the Bengals in the second round (53rd overall) of the 1983 NFL Draft out of Washington and spent six seasons there as a player. He signed with the Cowboys as a free agent in 1989 and spent four seasons in Dallas. He appeared in 147 career games (99 starts) and had 19 interceptions, five touchdowns, 11 fumble recoveries and five forced fumbles. He also appeared in two Super Bowls, playing in Super Bowl XXIII with Cincinnati and winning Super Bowl XXVII with Dallas in his final game as a player.
A native of Tacoma, WA, Horton earned All-America and All-Pac 10 honors at the University of Washington where he was a three-year starter (1980-82) and played in two Rose Bowls. He was an All-American at Mount Tacoma High School (Tacoma, WA). Horton has a daughter, Taylor and a son, Jarren. He and his wife, Karena, live in Phoenix.
The "NFLTA" crew breaks down the individual talents of Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu in determining who is more valuable to the Cardinals.