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There’s no more defending Ken Norton Jr

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve seen enough.

This is the third straight season I’ve written a column demanding the ousting of Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. He got a reprieve with the improvement towards the end of the 2020 season. Even the blindly optimistic realized that a lot of that was on the back of playing superstar quarterbacks C.J. Beathard, Dwayne Haskins, Carson Wentz, etc.

The Seahawks defense started off brightly with their performance against the Indianapolis Colts. Just 16 points allowed, several 4th down stops, effective pass rush, stout run defense.

Turns out the Colts are a bad team.

These two games against the Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings were the real tests for this unit. More than competent quarterbacks, quality running games, elite wide receivers.

Fail grade. Massive fail grade.

In the losses to Tennessee and Minnesota, the Seahawks forced a grand total of four punts out of 20 non-kneeldown drives. One of those punts against the Vikings was after Minnesota ran off most of the remaining 4th quarter clock, with the game well in hand. Here’s how the other possessions ended:

  • 6 touchdowns
  • 7 field goals
  • 1 missed field goal
  • 1 turnover
  • 1 turnover on downs

13 scoring drives on 20 possessions is worst defense in the NFL type of bad. Don’t let the 2nd half of this Vikings game fool you by holding Minnesota out of the end zone. They were awful. Minnesota’s three field goals took a combined 39 plays and they only had 6 3rd downs in the process.

The Vikings were 9/14 on 3rd down including a touchdown on 3rd and 13 to Adam Thielen when it was still a 17-7 Seahawks lead. Only one of Cousins’ 38 attempts was defensed, and it was Carlos Dunlap deflecting the ball for Minnesota’s only punt in meaningful game time.

Through three games the Seahawks have a pathetic 5 passes defensed out of 116 throws. This is the second week in a row they’ve allowed a 100+ yard rusher and Alexander Mattison’s only 100+ yard games have both come against Seattle.

This is not the defense we should be getting after having a “normal offseason.” There’s supposedly an All-Pro safety (whose acquiring by the front office looks worse with each game), a Pro Bowl safety, a future Hall of Fame linebacker, and promising young talent on the defensive line. They look like one of the most talent-poor, disorganized groups in the entire NFL. Virtually every screen pass they’ve faced this year looks like the first one they’ve ever encountered. And it’s been a consistent problem against any offense with a pulse throughout Norton’s tenure.

A defense that needs absolutely everything to go right and everyone from assistant coach to rotational player to be available is not a defense that is properly functioning. It’s not a defense that can be a part of a playoff contender. It’s a unit that can sabotage an entire season.

Ken Norton has to be fired and I’m not turning back on this. He has been a middling to downright terrible coordinator both here and with the Raiders. Everything you need to know about his tenure as a DC is the fact that with Khalil Mack as eventual DPOY in 2016, the Raiders finished 24th in DVOA. He was fired midway through next season after the Raiders went over half the season without an interception.

At least Seattle was a playoff team in spite of a bad defense in 2019 and 2020. With this turgid start and the offense’s 2nd half struggles, they could absolutely miss the playoffs if things don’t improve.

And yes I will go there, if Pete Carroll won’t let go of his friend any time soon then he shouldn’t be the Seahawks’ head coach in 2022. Plain and simple.