Next season will be the first that Ken Norton Jr. doesn’t coach under Pete Carroll. Norton got his first coaching gig as USC linebackers coach in 2004, four years after his illustrious playing career came to a close.
He gave six seasons to the Trojans before following Carroll to the Seattle Seahawks in 2010. He helped usher in a successful era in the Pacific Northwest that included back-to-back Super Bowl appearances.
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On Friday, Norton branched out and became the new Raiders defensive coordinator. Norton believes he’s ready for this opportunity because he was well prepped.
“I can really take my hat off to Pete Carroll,” Norton said. “He’s really done a great job of when we’re there with him, he’s always preparing us to be coordinators, to be head coaches. He’s always having us look forward and do things that are important for us to continue our careers and keep improving ourselves. He’s always been preparing us for the next step.”
Though he could’ve, Carroll didn’t block Norton from taking it. He was still under contract with Seattle, which was under no obligation to release him for any job less than head coach. Carroll had already lost Dan Quinn to Atlanta, and could’ve kept Norton in place to avoid a gutting of the defensive staff. He didn’t do that. He let Norton take a better job than he had.
[BAIR: Del Rio, Norton Jr. to form new 'Raider way' on defense]
While he won’t be working under Carroll any longer, the defensive-minded head coach will stay with him through philosophy. The Seahawks defense isn’t overly complicated, but that unit hits hard and plays fast all the time.
“No question,” Norton said. “We’ve had a lot of success. You watch our defenses over the last few years, how physical, how smart, how dominant they’ve been up front, out-hitting, out-hustling and doing all these aggressive things. Jack has a fantastic background with his defense as well. My philosophy combined with his philosophy, we’re going to sit down in a room and just work it out and then make it the Raiders philosophy.”