Ken Norton Jr. Tremendous Hire as Defensive Coordinator for Rebuilding Raiders

It took until almost a week into February, but the Oakland Raiders finally hired a defensive coordinator. The reward for their patience is Ken Norton Jr.—formerly the linebackers coach of the Seattle Seahawks.

Norton is a fantastic hire for the Raiders at this stage of the offseason. If he hadn’t accepted the job, who knows who the Raiders would have hired.

The best thing about Norton is that he’s the kind of intense defensive coach the Raiders haven’t had since Rob Ryan. With Norton and head coach Jack Del Rio, the Raiders have managed to cobble together some of what would have made Rex Ryan a great hire as a head coach.

Norton also played with Del Rio with the Dallas Cowboys from 1989-1991, and the two have remained in contact and have similar ideas about what works on defense. That kind philosophical chemistry between a head coach and defensive coordinator is important. At the same time, both have taken different paths to Oakland, so they will each bring a unique perspective.

“We kind of grew up in the same type of ideas on how to attack offenses and how to protect yourself on defense,” Norton said via conference call. “I have certain ideas that I have that I know that work. He has certain ideas that he has that he knows that work. We’re going to bring them together and obviously make them the Raider way.

“My philosophy combined with his philosophy, we’re going to sit down in a room and just work it out and then make it the Raiders philosophy.”

Establishing “the Raider way” will be a lot easier if the players buy in to what Norton and Del Rio are teaching. It’s perhaps the toughest part of the job for coaches, but it shouldn’t be difficult for Norton because he is a former two-time All-Pro and has four Super Bowl rings—including three as a player and one as a coach.


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