In essence, football is a fluid game. Additionally, the ups and downs of coaching take a toll on everyone. For Raiders DC Ken Norton, the stress to succeed continues to increase. In 2017, with expectations higher than normal, the defense needs a complete season of sound football. With that said, three reasons exist for Ken Norton’s lack of job security.
Over His Shoulder: Back in January, the Raiders hired form Charger DC John Pagano as associate head coach. Despite a 12-4 season, the defense struggled during the season. Critics singled out the lackluster defensive performances as reasons why. Enter Pagano. As associate head coach, he will help with the defense. Meanwhile, Norton cannot be thrilled with yet another set of eyes watching his every move. RaiderNation feels that sooner or later, Norton gets his walking papers after another subpar season. Pagano presents an in-house option that already has the ear, trust and respect of Del Rio. Plus, being a pupil of Wade Phillips helps with potential new schemes. Will Norton implement elements of Pagano’s gameplan? Does he really have a choice?
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Draft Expectation: When free agency opened, the prevailing thought centered on signing defensive help. While they may still ink a defender, the draft appears to be where McKenzie fills out a good portion of the roster. With holes at MLB, DL, CB, S, and DT, hitting on draft picks is a necessity. Chances remain high that Oakland drafts defense heavily. Normally, draft and slowly develop is a McKenzie staple. This time, the Raiders need one or two picks to contribute immediately. In reality, 22 year olds could hold the key to Norton retaining his job.
Imbalance: Granted, the strength of the Oakland Raiders rests with the offense. Scoring 27 or more points ten times during a season opens eyes. On the other hand, allowing 27 or more points six times also screams the need for attention. To his credit, Norton’s defense allowed two of those totals during the final weeks of the season. QB Derek Carr suffered a broken leg, forcing the Raiders to rely on backups. Then again, facing Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler is usually the cure for anything.
On the whole, the organization respects Ken Norton. The players speak highly of him. LB Bruce Irvin mentioned that everyone wasn’t buying into the scheme. If that is true, it’s the job of the DC to adjust. Also, does garnering players’ respect enough for Norton to keep his job? With a supervisor between himself and the head coach, there is no margin for error. Under those circumstances, Ken Norton is fighting for his job. With that said, his bloodline suggests that he’s game for a brawl.