“Who is Ken Norton Jr. and Why the Raiders Should be Excited About Their New Defensive Coordinator”
After much speculation, Ken Norton Jr. was hired as the Oakland Raiders Defensive Coordinator today.
Norton Jr. is the kind of coaching hire that is exciting. An excellent player in college and in the pro’s who loves football. He has proven that he really wants to be a coach by paying his dues first being a linebackers coach at USC, and then following Pete Carroll to the NFL in the same position for the Seattle Seahawks.
He is a charismatic person, who was a jokester as a player. He was very serious on the field though, priding himself in stopping the run and being tough and physical. Pete Carroll’s philosophy is to rush the passer and stop the run and that is right up Norton Jr.’s alley.
When he played, Norton Jr. famously would celebrate big plays by getting into a boxing stance and pretending to spar. This was in honor of his father, boxer Ken Norton Sr. who was one of the few to beat Muhammad Ali.
Some Raider fans may remember him as being the player; along with San Francisco 49ers Bryant Young; who tackled Napoleon McMcallum and caused his horrific knee injury. When Norton Jr. knew McCallum was hurt, he famously would not move allowing people to attend to him. Other than Joe Theisman’s injury, it was the worst that was ever seen.
Norton has had a long history of coaching pro bowl linebackers. He helped Seattle’s Bobby Wagner become one of the best in the NFL and at USC, he was credited for mentoring many quality future pro bowl linebackers including Brian Cushing, Clay Matthews III, Rey Maualuga, Lofa Tatupu, Dallas Sartz, Keith Rivers, and Kaluka Maiava.
His style of coaching is very aggressive and physical; a take no prisoners style that is intimidating. The Raiders have talented linebackers and if they can shore up the defensive line and stay healthy, the front 7 can change the fortune of the Raiders very quickly.
If you look at the quick turn arounds of teams in recent history, it is due to the front defensive 7. Teams like Seattle, San Francisco, and Arizona have turned around their fortunes the last 5 years due to the great defensive pressure they put on offenses. If you can rush the passer with 4 players, and stop the run, you will have an elite defense.
I’m not a retread guy; I’d rather have a young, exciting and hungry head coach with no coordinator experience who has a proven track record of success, over a 15 year veteran coach who rarely succeeds or has average success. Norton Jr. has won at every level as a coach, and as a player and he can bring a winning mindset that is also needed.
The Raiders have had serious issues the last 12 years but with Norton Jr., this is a big time hire that won’t make much publicity. I think with the additions of Mike Tice and Ken Norton Jr., they will begin to instill a physical toughness that has been needed in Oakland for a long time. The Raiders and their fans should be excited about this one.
|University of Southern California (2004–2008)
Linebackers CoachUniversity of Southern California (2009)
Linebackers Coach/Assistant Head CoachSeattle Seahawks (2010–2014)
Oakland Raiders (2015–present)