You have to love the Cleveland Browns’ media. After not understanding the word “hybrid” last week, the scattered remains of the team’s beat reporters embarked on a quest to
cause fan panic garner cheap page views by dredging up the dumbest of outdated 3-4 debates.
Then, when given the opportunity to directly ask the Browns’ new defensive coordinator about his intentions, several reporters’ heads exploded when confronted by the phrase “multiple fronts.”
I’m sure you’ve already had a chance to listen, but if not – here’s a link.
Anyway, here are the few themes that Ray Horton kept returning to:
“We’re going to be an attacking defense with big men that can run, and little men that can hit. . . We are a multifront attacking defense, that’s what matters – not who lines up where.”
“Going back, I use the word ‘multiple front.’ Coach Rob uses ‘hybrid.’ Our guys can play a multitude of things. I don’t like to get pigeonholed. . . We are going to look at the offense and try to take away what they do best. One snap we might be a 5-2. The next snap we might be a 4-4. . . . The thing I’m most excited about is I have a group of athletes who can run and hit, and they’re not limited to saying, ‘Coach, line me up in a specific system…”
“Let’s not put limits on what players can and can’t be….I don’t want to put limits on any player….I want him to tell me what he does best.”
“It will be predicated by what the offense does. We have athletes that can stand up, that can put their hand in the ground, that can run, so that’s why I go back to the multi-front defense.”
So, “multiple fronts”, “attacking”, “putting players into the best position to succeed” and “game planning based on the strengths and the weaknesses of the opponent” are progressive ideas – things that seemingly transcend the old notion of a base defense THAT IS MAYBE ONLY PLAYED ON FIRST F—ING DOWN!!!! were continually stressed.
Because the Browns’ reporters kept asking questions like the following:
(The following reporter questions posed to Horton are paraphrased….but only a little bit.)
1. Are you excited about the players you have on defense? And what I mean by this is can Jabaal Sheard play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense…and how massive will the roster overhaul to play a 3-4 defense be?
2. I’m going to ask a question using the word transition. Now I’m going to say it again. Transition. So, how long will the 3-4 transition take?
3. Do you know the history of trepidation in Cleveland? We get really scared whenever things change. Will it take a year or two to get the right people here to play the 3-4?
4. Coach Chudzinski, I don’t understand what the new 3-4 coach is saying. Can you talk about the period of 3-4 adjustment and transition that will occur? How big of an adjustment will it be?
5. I want to ask about overhauls. How many key players will you need to add to play your 3-4 defense? And will the roster have to be overhauled to get these 3-4 players?
6. Can the players play in the second year of your 3-4 system in the first year? Because that’s what they did last year with the 4-3 and it seemed to work much better.
7. Will you promise the fans that you will convince them that your 3-4 defense will win and not backslide into losing?
8. So….what about Jabaal Sheard? Is he still a defensive end? Because that’s what he played last year in the 4-3.
9. Is Billy Winn a Defensive End? See, I have a diagram of a 3-4 defense and I’m not sure where he fits. This was much easier last season.
10. Hey – I noticed you’re black and you’re not a Head Coach. Do you think the Rooney Rule works?
I think everyone involved in this process just got a lot dumber.
And to think – Horton’s defense isn’t exactly Calculus 3 – it’s just a blend of different fronts and pressures. Can you only imagine if this reporting group had to cover Chip Kelly?
That would be quite the transition.
And in related Browns’ Beat Reporters are the Worst news, here’s what Marla Ridenour took from Horton’s press conference:
Asked about eight vacant head coaching jobs and seven general manager/player personnel positions being filled by white men, Horton said: “I wasn’t disappointed at all for minorities. I was disappointed for Ray Horton.”
That wasn’t all of his response. But in the 140-character world of Twitter, his comment will spread like wildfire, perhaps drawing notice from the likes of the NAACP. Al Sharpton could be booking his plane ticket to Northeast Ohio as we speak.
Wow. THAT’s how you interpret what Horton said?
I guess here’s why coaches and athletes are always talking about having their words “taken out of context.” Horton was alluding to the idea of equality – in that he didn’t get a Head Coaching job because of his past performance, ability as a coach, experience AND the performance of his players (something he noted early in the press conference).
Yet because he’s black – well, then….because he’s black…and you know, right?
Over the past few days, I’ve continually noted how ridiculously dated Browns’ reporters have revealed themselves in not realizing that the old 3-4 vs. 4-3 debates are becoming irrelevant. In a very real sense, it’s like the majority of the Browns’ old guard beat writers are stuck in a 1987 football world – where Ernie Accorsi is going to “walk through that door.”
And while that’s bad enough, articles like Ridenour’s expose just how bizarrely detached these 50 and 60-something year old writers really are.
Of course, considering their age and the ever-tenuous status of their shrinking careers, it’s probably more realistic to think that the “Ridenour’s of the World” are probably just aiming for a cheap Pro Football Talk link – with a dream of actually getting a mention from an ambulance-chasing Al Sharpton and the resultant “wildfire.”
Or, welcome to Cleveland Ray Horton.
Once again – I really wonder what was going through Horton’s mind yesterday. In so many ways, Berea proved to be stuck 30 years in the past.
The next few days may be a bit slow around these parts – but as always, leave your thoughts in the COMMENTS at the bottom of the page. And don’t forget about the latest POLL QUESTION.
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