With the hot start that the Cardinals defense is off to, many have speculated that this may be the final year that the team has Ray Horton as their defensive coordinator. His Pittsburgh defensive style has brought about a whole new system to the team, one that, through the past 10+ games, has been wildly effective.
There are teams that fire their head coaches every year. It is a "what have you done for me lately" league and every club is searching for that next guy to lead them. Ray Horton could be the guy. If a team wants to make him their head coach, there is nothing the Cardinals can do to stop that from happening.
The thing is, it just might not happen at all.
All of the speculation started when, on Sunday, Horton's defense managed to hold Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady and their powerful offense to just 18 points. By taking the nose tackle out of the game and putting in an extra defensive back, blitzing Brady at proper times and playing in the proper coverage schemes, the Cardinals were able to pull out a surprise win. Horton's defensive play-calling and the way he has taught his unit to execute have been masterful.
In February, Horton told Darren Urban of the Cardinals official team site that he wants to win a Super Bowl in all phases of the game. He won one as a player and as an assistant coach. Now, he wants to win one as a coordinator and perhaps, one day, as the head coach of an NFL team. He would become the first person to ever do that.
So if that dream is as true as he says it is, why would he leave the Cardinals? If he continues to succeed as their defensive coordinator, he could very well lead this team to a championship one day. Who's to say he can't?
As far as the head coaching job goes, don't think that if he is succeeding, opportunities won't always be presenting themselves. As I said, there are always going to be head coaching positions available. Horton can remain the defensive coordinator of the Cardinals and wait for the job he wants.
There's also the idea that he could get comfortable with the job he has. While that is unlikely, I am sure his mentor, Dick LeBeau, has had plenty of opportunites to become a head coach again since becoming the Steelers' defensive coordinator in 2004. Sometimes people just like calling the plays from the booth upstairs, staying away from all the antics on the field.
Then there is always the idea that Horton slips up a little bit. Obviously, none of us want to see this, but it is always a possibility. Everyone was ready to anoint Ken Whisenhunt as the savior, but when his team faltered to a 5-11 season, many wanted his head on a platter. Everyone stumbles and Ray Horton's defense will inevitably do the same at some point.
So don't worry Cardinals fans. It is far from a lock that Horton is leaving after the 2012 season. Let's just focus on this year and, with any luck, maybe Horton can win that next Super Bowl sooner than he anticipated.
For more on the Cardinals, be sure to check out Revenge of the Birds.