Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton, Jr.
For NFL coaches, the business is a coaching carousel; one day someone is a linebackers coach, the next they're a defensive coordinator. This was the situation for Oakland Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr. The second-year defensive coordinator previously served as the linebackers coach at USC from 2004 to 2009, before joining the Seattle Seahawks for four years.
Prior to joining the Silver and Black, Norton worked as the linebackers coach in Seattle, where he gained familiarity with current linebackers Bruce Irvin and Malcolm Smith. This week, Norton is preparing Irvin, Smith, and the rest of the defensive unit to take on the Atlanta Falcons, and will go toe-to-toe with another familiar face, Dan Quinn.
Quinn was the defensive coordinator for the Seahawks from 2012-2014, and oversaw Norton while he was the linebackers coach. Both Quinn and Norton departed from Seattle in 2015 for their current jobs – Norton as the Raiders defensive coordinator, and Quinn as the Falcons head coach.
The two haven't faced off against each other before, but have expressed their excitement to face each other Sunday.
"You know what, lots of respect for those guys. I'm looking forward to seeing all of them," said Quinn. "I had a lot of fun with Kenny and Malcolm and Bruce, both in coaching and then just for those guys as teammates and being a part of it. Lots of respect for them, and I'll look forward to seeing them after the game for sure."
The feeling between the former colleagues is mutual.
"Exciting," said Norton with a smile. "Dan and I spent a lot of late nights drawing up defenses and learning defenses and learning the scheme together. It'll be a good challenge to go against him."
Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio weighed in on the relationship between Norton and Quinn, and mentioned how the familiarity with one another can play a role for both teams. "They worked together, they know each other, so I think it goes both ways," said Del Rio. "I wouldn't say one team or another has an advantage."
Norton and the Raiders will take on Quinn and the explosive Falcons offense this Sunday at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.