TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — In a miserable season for his Arizona Cardinals, defensive coordinator Ray Horton is nonetheless a rising star in NFL coaching circles.
Expect Horton to be interviewed for some head coaching positions this offseason. Perhaps even in Arizona, should the Bidwill family decide to fire coach Ken Whisenhunt.
Horton was saying all the right things Friday after the team's final practice of the season.
"I would say today all I'm trying to do today is be the best D-coordinator in the league," he said. "I didn't do it because we didn't accomplish our goals and the rest of that stuff kind of takes care of itself. Usually teams that win more are rewarded that way."
But he did acknowledge it's every coach's goal to someday get the top job.
"That's what you're trying for," he said, "and if you prepare well you should be ready."
Last year, after his first season as the Cardinals' defensive coordinator, he was interviewed for the St. Louis job that eventually went to Jeff Fisher. Horton said there's no secret to having a good job interview.
"I think if you're confident in what you do, probably every interview would be good," he said. "I think I'm prepared, smart, knowledgeable, humble and everything that goes along with whatever that entails."
Horton was an assistant at Pittsburgh when Whisenhunt tabbed him to be Arizona's third defensive coordinator in five years. Horton has a year left on his contract, meaning he couldn't leave for another coordinator's job without the Cardinals' permission. He could, however, leave to take a head coaching job. His players certainly believe in him. Defensive end Calais Campbell says Horton would be an "awesome" head coach.
"I wouldn't be surprised if he had a lot of different offers because he's very talented at what he does," Campbell said. "He's smart, he understands the game, he's a great motivational speaker. I think he'll make a great head coach. He has that passion for winning."
There hasn't been much winning in Arizona, though. The Cardinals, after a 4-0 start, have dropped 10 of 11 and are huge underdogs at San Francisco. The problems almost entirely are the fault of the offense, especially poor play at quarterback. Arizona is starting Brian Hoyer at the position on Sunday less than three weeks after he was picked up on waivers from Pittsburgh.