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Ray Horton Hired as Pittsburgh Maulers Head Coach


Ray Horton has been hired as the second coach in Pittsburgh Maulers franchise history.  Horton replaces Kirby Wilson after Wilson stepped down.


Ray Horton’s coaching journey started in Washington as a defensive back coach.  While in Washington, Ray Horton coached Hall of Famer Darrell Green.  Horton made stops in Detroit and Cincinnati as defensive back coach before landing in Pittsburgh.  While coaching the Steelers secondary, Horton played a vital role in developing the Steelers into a force.  A highlighted player that took off under the tutelage of Horton was Troy Polamalu.  Polamalu  has always spoken highly of Horton and has been a vocal supporter of the coach. 

“He (Horton) has an in-depth understanding of the defense Coach (Dick) Lebeau teaches and has an in-depth understanding of what the offense is doing, personal groups and percentages,” Hall of Famer Troy Polamalu said.  After winning two Super Bowls with the Steelers, Ray Horton moved on to Arizona with his first opportunity of being a defensive coordinator.  Horton took over the 30th ranked defense and transformed them into the 17th rank in his first season. 

Improvement continued in his second season coaching the Cardinals with the 12th rank defense. The defense created the 4th most takeaways on defense that season and saw the meteoric rise of Patrick Peterson. The team’s improvement overall was not matched and a coaching staff change was made by the Arizona Cardinals franchise.

Ray Horton landed on his feet with the Cleveland Browns in 2013 as the defensive coordinator.  In the one season in Cleveland, the Browns were a top ten defense but again, a coaching regime change led to Ray Horton on the move.  Horton made his way to Nashville as the defensive coordinator of the Titans.  The franchise was in-flux with a rebuild on the agenda.  In his two seasons with the Titans, the defense had moved from the bottom of the league to the top half of the league but again, regime change made Horton move on.  The season after Horton's departure, the defense regressed to the bottom ten.  Horton moved back to Cleveland where the roster had large turnover and he was part of the constant mismanagement of the front office for the Browns.  The staff was changed and Horton was on the move again.  

While his coaching journey has been a long path, Ray Horton played with two franchises.  Horton played defensive back at the University of Washington.  Horton’s junior year was spectacular and culminated with making the honorable All-American team.  After his final season in Seattle, Horton was drafted in the second round by the Cincinnati Bengals.  The original USFL’s Los Angeles Express drafted Horton as well.  He decided to sign with the Bengals.  Horton’s rookie year was fantastic as he broke the Bengals rookie record for interceptions in a season. 

During his time in Cincinnati, Horton played under Dick LeBeau and played multiple positions.  After six seasons with the Bengals, Horton signed with the Dallas Cowboys.  He finished his career on a winning note as the Cowboys won the Super Bowl in 1992.  Horton finished his career with 19 interceptions, 11 fumble recoveries, 3 sacks and 5 defensive touchdowns in 147 games played.


The 2023 Pittsburgh Maulers are already in the mold that fits Coach Ray Horton.  Horton coached with Kirby Wilson in Pittsburgh and Cleveland.  The Mauler Mold of wanting to find players that are good in character, a strong desire to learn, competes greatly and loves the game of football fits right with Ray Horton.  Horton’s desire to have players fit the Maulers mold goes further than that with the special bond that he has with his new assistant head coach and defensive coordinator his son Jarren Horton.

The younger Horton says, “To be able with my dad is an experience I look forward to. Working with my dad again is a privilege I am looking forward to. To be able to experience what guys like the Belichicks, Shannahans, Moras, McVays have experienced with father and son on the same staff is special. From the last time we worked together in 2016, a lot has changed and the roles will be different. I am looking forward to this special opportunity. "

As stated on Hammer Time, Jarren has implemented a similar defense. The Maulers defense is an offshoot of his defense that he first implemented in Arizona in 2011, which comes from Coach Dick LeBeau’s zone blitz scheme. The core philosophies are the same, which means the defense will hit the ground running. The father-son bond is obvious and will give the team an advantage but the Mauler players gain a teacher within the coaching ranks. Both Jarren and Ray are teachers of the game of football and expect execution of the game plan.

Former Steelers DB Ike Taylor on Ray Horton on

“He’s brilliant.  When you talk about a guy who knows football from back to front thats Coach Ray.  For a person who doesn't know football, he can break it down, ‘Football 101’.  Give that person a week, four hours a day with Coach Ray and they’ll know football like they’ve been playing football their whole life.  Coach Ray is a teacher.”

Former Steelers DB William Gay on Coach Ray Horton on

“He taught you to be a smart football player because he demanded it.”

Maulers DT Boogie Roberts on DC Jarren Horton:

“A very very detailed coach, you can tell he really loves ball.  With every man has a job.  And with his preparation throughout the week, he expects every man to do their job.  He has a way to keep everything so simple that allows us to retain it and play fast.” 

Maulers DB Malcolm Elmore on DC Jarren Horton:

“Not only is he always trying to win and get the best 11 on the field, but he is someone who will go out of his way to help improve as a player by telling you what your strengths and weaknesses are and how you can improve your game.”

Two Hortons on the staff seem to be a clear advantage for the Orange and Purple Army as they both have a strong understanding of football and how they envision it.  They both coach players up and will present a unique and exciting coaching duo.  


The Pittsburgh Maulers will miss Kirby Wilson as he contributed to building the Maulers but it seems like the franchise has been left in good hands as we march to the 2023 season. And we shall see the franchise continue to move forward.  

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @hammertime_web for exclusive Pittsburgh Maulers news and information as part of the USFL Network.

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