A changing of the guard has taken place atop Cleveland's defense.
The Browns have fired defensive coordinator Ray Horton after one season in Cleveland, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Saturday evening, per sources. To replace Horton, the Browns announced Sunday that they have hired former Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
CBS Sports first reported the news.
Williams was a member of Jeff Fisher's coaching staff for three seasons, but Fisher's December ousting left the defensive coordinator in limbo as the Rams search for a new skipper.
In addition to Horton, Pep Hamilton, the Browns' associate head coach of offense, could be on his way out. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has been telling recruits that Hamilton is joining his staff, a source informed of the situation told Rapoport on Sunday. Coach Hue Jackson, however, told reporters Sunday he was "comfortable" Hamilton would be staying but added he was anticipating more changes to his staff.
Williams found refuge on Fisher's staff in 2014 after serving a one-year suspension for his role in Bountygate in New Orleans. Williams' defenses in St. Louis and Los Angeles benefited from strong defensive line play, but were often susceptible to big gains -- look no further than his reunion with the Saints this season for an example. The Browns will be the fifth team on which Williams has served as defensive coordinator.
Horton's departure is his second from Cleveland in four years and will mark the end of his fourth DC job in five seasons. Under Horton, the youthful no-name Browns defense ranked near the bottom of the league in most significant categories, including points per game and yards per game.
The Browns have a lot of young pieces on defense around which to build a competitive unit, namely Jamie Collins, Danny Shelton, Emmanuel Ogbah and Carl Nassib. It will be Williams' job to round Cleveland's collection of green studs into a cohesive force for years to come and to keep Jackson off the hot seat.