Oakland Raiders Firing Of Ken Norton, Jr. Was Racist: Blacks Still Last Hired, First Fired
On Tuesday, the Oakland Raiders reported that Head Coach Jack Del Rio fired his Defensive Coordinaotor (and friend of 25 years) Ken Norton, Jr. I don’t believe Coach Del Rio made that move on his own, because of the logical inconsistencies that are attached to it – as well as the “last hired, first fired” pattern.
It’s a truism in American society that African Americans have historically been the last to be hired for a position, and then first to be released from it. In Coach Norton’s case, after Del Rio was brought in as head coach, the Raiders took some time to hire a defensive coordinator, and talked to a number of candidates, all white, before settling on Norton (defensive expert Todd Bowles was interviewed to be Head Coachm not defensive coordinator). At that point, the Raiders were talking to black coaching candidates, but not hiring them – except former Raider Rod Woodson. The vast majority of hires were white; then the Raiders brought in Norton. Last hired.
It’s documented that Coach Del Rio was “grooming” Coach Norton for the defensive coordinator role, even as he held the job (http://ift.tt/2iIPduj). It’s also widely known that Del Rio wanted to bring the Seattle / USC 4-3 style of defense to the Raiders, and Norton was the best person available, other than himself, to do so. Thus, Norton was an extension of Del Rio.
There are two kinds of defensive coordinators in the NFL: the ones who are there to reflect the head coach’s way of playing defense, and the ones who are there to install their own brand of defense. The later kind of defensive coordinators have become starts: Marvin Lewis, Rex Ryan, Rob Ryan, and their father, the late Buddy Ryan, to offer some examples. Then, there are those like Norton was, but admitantly not so tied to the hip of their head coaches as Norton, Jr. was – and therein lay the logical inconsistency. Or the first one.
Since Coach Norton was brought in to install Del Rio’s defense, and was being groomed by him, and since Del Rio, Norton, and now newly elevated coach John Pagano, were said to have equal roles in developing the defensive game plan, Del Rio should have fired himself as well as letting Norton go. As for Pagano, he’s not a Seattle / USC 4-3 Defense specialist – he’s a 3-4 defense guy. The most, again, logical, move would have been to keep Norton, but switch roles between he and Pagano – if a ‘change’ was really needed of that type. Frankly, it wasn’t.
The main Oakland Raiders Defense problem that plagues it has been one that I’ve pointed to since preseason: the defensive lineman come off the ball at a high stance, and thus lose the leverage advantage gained by being in a three-point stance. So, they’re more easily blocked; the opposing quarterback has more time to throw. That puts more pressure on the defensive backfield, which gives up passing yards, at times in big chunks.
On top of that, the Oakland Raiders Defense lacks the more exotic bliztes that are the norm today: attacks where specific gaps are ‘overloaded’ with two defenders on a blitz, like the “Double A Gap” approach, for example. The defense is predictable in alignment; no effort is made to use formations to emphasize strengths and cover-up weaknesses. All of these problems were there from 2015 to today, and Del Rio did nothing about them. The Head Coach just let Ken Norton, Jr. take all the heat, and then hired John Pagano, who was fired by the San Diego Chargers, and help with the defensive backfield.
That was the story. He was really there to look over Coach Norton’s shoulder – and give a reason for the Raiders to fire Norton at some point. An excuse. Yet another African American who didn’t work out in the coordinator role: same thing happened to Pep Hamilton. He was the Indianapolis Colts Offensive Coordinator, and in 2013 and 2014 built one of the NFL’s top attacks. But one bad year, 2015, and next thing you know, he’s fired.