The Cleveland Browns have a revamped offensive game plan. It started with the hire of new head coach Hue Jackson, who will also call the offensive plays. His coaching staff is filling out with the addition of Ray Horton, Kirby Wilson, and Pep Hamilton.
The Browns are reunited with Ray Horton as their defensive coordinator. The team was last graced with his presence back in 2013 when they had a 9th ranked defense for yards allowed.
For those who don’t know Ray Horton, he recently helped improve a Tennessee Titans defense over the past two seasons. He also coached a 17th ranked pass defense in Arizona in 2011, but then improved to fifth the following year.
Not to mention, it doesn’t hurt being a Dick LeBeau disciple. Horton coached the Pittsburgh Steelers secondary from 2004-10. He has a history in the AFC North and that could be advantageous for Cleveland.
The Browns could use any edge they can get because Horton has a tough road ahead of him. He must add an impact edge rusher or inside linebacker. Improving the linebacker corps is a priority as well as the line. Danny Shelton must show progress or he will be yet another first round disappointment, like Justin Gilbert and Barkevious Mingo. Additionally, everyone hopes Joe Haden returns to his 2014 form.
Along with a filling the defensive coordinator position, the Browns hired Kirby Wilson to be the running backs coordinator. Since Cleveland has no intention of hiring an offensive coordinator, Wilson should fit in as one of the top assistants. Prior to this job, Wilson held the same position for the Minnesota Vikings.
Last year, he helped Adrian Peterson return from a lengthy suspension to win his 3rd career rushing title. In 2014, in Peterson’s absence, Kirby managed Matt Asiata to 882 total yards and 10 touchdowns and Jerick McKinnon to 673 all purpose yards.
Before Minnesota, Wilson spent seven years with the Steelers. He mentored Le’Veon Bell through his rookie season and should hope to work wonders with Duke Johnson as a dual threat. The Cleveland Browns run game appears to be trending upward.
The same could be said for the Browns passing game. Pep Hamilton is coming over from Indianapolis to be the Assistant Head Coach for offense and coach the quarterbacks. As the Colts OC, he set his team up for success. In 2013, they set a franchise record for fewest turnovers in a season. The following year, Andrew Luck set another franchise record with 4,761 passing yards and led the NFL with 40 touchdowns. Granted that we are talking about Andrew luck, but Hamilton deserves some credit, too.
Pep Hamilton also worked with the quarterbacks while he was the OC at Stanford from 2011-12. He also has a history as a NFL quarterbacks coach. He was with Chicago from 2007-09, San Francisco in 2006, and the New York Jets in 2004.
In the end, the Cleveland Browns acquired valuable coaching assets to help turn this team around. Granted, we say that every time the organization cleans house, but this somehow feels different. The Browns hired their first choice guys, not settling for whatever coaches are left. The combination of Jackson and Hamilton should develop a successful offense despite the current quarterback situation. Wilson is a fine decision to further develop Isaiah Crowell and Johnson. Finally, the return of Ray Horton to Cleveland means we can witness a tough, hard-hitting defense. Players respect Horton and want to play for him. Cleveland football appears to be on the rise.
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