The Raiders have fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton, according to Mike Silver and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). John Pagano, who previously held the title of Assistant Head Coach/Defense, will take over.
“After careful thought, I have made a difficult decision to part ways with Ken Norton, Jr. as defensive coordinator,” said head coach Jack Del Rio in a statement released by the team. “I have the utmost respect for Ken as a person and as a coach, but I feel that moving John Pagano into the play-calling role will best utilize his wealth of experience. I appreciate Ken’s passion and commitment to the Raiders since coming aboard and wish him the best going forward.”
Norton has been popular in the Raiders locker room since joining the team in 2015. However, the results have not been to the Raiders’ satisfaction, particularly this year. The Raiders rank dead last in defensive DVOA and that goes a long way towards explaining their 4-6 record. The Raiders were handed a bad loss on Sunday after allowing the Patriots to score 33 points, though the offense didn’t exactly help the cause either (eight points).
It’s fair to wonder if Norton’s dismissal will cure what ails the defense, particularly since Del Rio has such a heavy hand in play calling. Also, the absence of first-round cornerback Gareon Conley has hurt the team’s passing defense, and that’s a factor that was out of Norton’s control.
The Raiders hired Norton after considering big names such as Mike Smith and Wade Phillips. Reportedly, a lack of money and play-calling control led some candidates to withdraw from consideration.
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