Two days after the Oakland Raiders defense was scorched for the umpteenth time this season, Jack Del Rio has made the decision to fire defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. after three seasons (well... two seasons and ten games) with the team.
“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 an official statement. “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 Jr. was previously the linebackers coach for the Seahawks from 2010-2014, but snapped up the opportunity to become a DC for the first time in his career. It’s safe to say that his time in Oakland was a massive failure.
Heading into week 11, Oakland’s defense was dead-last in DVOA, and dead-last in pass defense. They have been so completely inept that they’re the first team in NFL history to record zero interceptions through the first ten games of a season. Norton improved Oakland’s defense from 26th to 15th in DVOA in 2015, but sunk to 22nd last season, including 25th against the pass. This season has just been nothing but lay-up lines (so to speak) against Oakland’s secondary, and the end result is this alarming stat.
All-Time Leaders in Passer Rating (min. 325 pass attempts)— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) November 20, 2017
1. Aaron Rodgers (2011) -- 122.5
2. Peyton Manning (2004) -- 121.1
3. Tom Brady (2007) -- 117.2
4. Matt Ryan (2016) -- 117.1
5. Peyton Manning (2013) -- 115.1
6. QBs Facing the @RAIDERS This Year -- 113.2
Their pass rush also is non-existent outside of Khalil Mack, who has 5.5 sacks on the year, whereas the rest of the team has just 8.5 combined. Ex-Seahawks DE-turned-LB Bruce Irvin only has 2.5, having racked up 7 in 2016. Oakland’s offense somehow being 4th in DVOA has been wasted by dismal defense, and Norton Jr. was destined to be gone, if not this week, then by season’s end.
Oakland is 4-6 but thankfully because the Kansas City Chiefs have collapsed and the AFC as a whole is mostly garbage, they’re in the thick of the wild card hunt. Maybe under interim DC John Pagano, they can get their first interception against the Paxton Lynch-led Denver Broncos on Sunday.