Raiders Fire Ken Norton; John Pagano Named Defensive Coordinator

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistNovember 21, 2017

Oakland Raiders coach Ken Norton Jr. prior to an NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

With the Oakland Raiders looking for answers to their disappointing 4-6 start this season, they announced Tuesday they have fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. 

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Mike Silver first reported Norton's dismissal.     

Per ESPN's Josina Anderson, Raiders assistant head coach John Pagano will take over as defensive coordinator.     

Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio released a statement about Norton's firing, via the team's official website:

“After careful thought, I have made a difficult decision to part ways with Ken Norton, Jr. as defensive coordinator. 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.”

Raiders linebacker Bruce Irvin did not appear happy with the team's decision to get rid of Norton (warning: post contains profanity):

Defense has been a problem for the Raiders in 2017. They rank 21st in points allowed per game (24.7) and 26th in yards allowed per game (367.0). 

Even though Oakland made the move to get rid of Norton, football writer Dieter Kurtenbach noted the Raiders are using his dismissal as a tool of change since his actual role had diminished within the organization:

Even though Oakland's defensive numbers aren't pretty, they are basically the same as last season, when the team went 12-4 and allowed 24.1 points and 375.1 yards per game (20th and 26th, respectively).

The biggest difference is on offense, where the Raiders have gone from averaging 26.0 points per game in 2016 (fourth in the league) to 20.4 this season (tied for 20th). Quarterback Derek Carr has already thrown more interceptions in 2017 (eight) than he did in 2016 (six). 

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