Last week, the Browns introduced Ray Horton as the team's new defensive coordinator. Horton, a former NFL safety and veteran coach, repeatedly characterized his preferred style of defense as an "attacking", "multi-front" system – one that was designed to reflect the needs of a given game plan.
In theory, such a defense sounds progressive – at least given the propensity for NFL teams to spread the field and exploit matchups. Naturally, the majority of the gathered Browns' beat reporters responded to Horton's comments by framing nearly every question in the familiar, dated verbiage of the 3-4 defense.
Horton's repeated phrasing of his defense was continually countered by the kind of inane and dated questions that most Browns' reporters probably could have asked some 30 years ago. These tepid volleys quickly reached the point of exhaustion – leaving Horton with an incredulous, if not exasperated look on his face.
At times, Horton's expression begged to scream the question: What is wrong with you people?
Sad and funny.
Of course, it's sad that the majority of Browns' beat writers haven't figured out that an NFL "base defense" has practically become a third-down Nickel package. In a league where teams pass nearly 60% of the time, arguments about playing a base 3-4 or 4-3 defense are kind of pointless – which was a point Browns' Head Coach Rob Chudzinski thankfully made last week.
Or, it's funny. Funny at least in the sense that for a week or so prior to Horton's official arrival, most Browns' beat writers turned in columns designed to feign outrage that the Browns are once again scrapping their current defensive system and personnel. Because again, NFL defenses can only do ONE thing and that ONE thing has to be properly categorized.
Anyway, I suppose we're used to such dated thinking around these parts. However, what followed the day after Horton's press conference was something unearthed from a rusty time capsule more reflective of a much, much dumber era.
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.