Making the case for Ken Norton Jr. as Seahawks’ DC

Jan 16, 2018, 10:58 AM | Updated: 1:38 pm
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Ken Norton Jr. will reportedly return to the Seahawks coaching staff. (AP)
LISTEN: Mike Garafolo, NFL Network explains Ken Norton Jr., Mike Solari hires

The decision to bring Ken Norton Jr. in as defensive coordinator was perhaps the most surprising of the Seahawks’ rumored coaching hires: current coordinator Kris Richard appeared to have a solid year, despite injuries to Seattle’s defensive Pro Bowlers, and Norton had recently accepted the assistant head coaching position with the San Francisco 49ers.

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The initial reaction from many critics was that the move had less to do with scheme and more to do with fit. NFL analyst Bucky Brooks said the decision was about giving Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll more control of the defense.

710 ESPN Seattle’s Dave Wyman, though, disagrees with Brooks’ analysis and argues there’s reason to be excited about the hiring of Norton. He also questions why a move by Carroll to interject himself into the defense would be a bad thing – after all, it’s his team.

“I’m all for it, man,” Wyman said during Monday’s edition of Danny, Dave and Moore. “It’s Pete Carroll’s defense. And who has more experience? It’s like somebody builds a car and you have somebody driving it for you and they sort of know it, but they don’t know it like you do; you put it together piece by piece. This is something that goes on over a long period of time. There’s no substitute for good tools and experience, and Pete has the experience.

“There’s some value in having been around that defense for a really long time. I’m sure it’s not like he’s going tot sit over Ken Norton’s shoulder the entire time and watch over him, but I feel like he’s going to have more of a hand in it, and I say good, he’s the guy who developed it. I’m kind of excited about that.”

Norton, 51, was a part of Carroll’s coaching staff at Southern California and followed Carroll to Seattle, where he was linebackers coach from 2010-14.

Norton took over as defensive coordinator for the Oakland Raiders for the 2015 season, but was fired by head coach Jack Del Rio in November 2017. On Jan. 8, the 49ers announced Norton would be the new assistant head coach and linebackers coach (49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has since issued a statement regarding Norton’s decision to return to Seattle).

“Here’s the thing about Ken Norton: he was a great player. The players really respect him,” Wyman continued. “He’s a heck of a nice guy, I really enjoyed having him here … He’s just a good man. And I know that he was relied upon pretty heavily in the beginning when they brought him here. (Former Seahawks defensive lineman) Craig Terrill told me … that Pete relied on Norton pretty extensively to be the guy that got the guys pumped up and ready to go. So it’s good having him back here.

“To me, I’m seeing this as a return to old school football. And I honestly think that’s what needed to happen with the Seahawks this year.”

The Seahawks have not yet announced a move regarding current defensive coordinator Kris Richard, though it was reported last week that Richard had been given the green light to vacate his contract.

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Making the case for Ken Norton Jr. as Seahawks’ DC