Raiders sack Ken Norton as defensive coordinator

The Denver Broncos aren’t the only AFC West team making big changes.

The Oakland Raiders have fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr., two days after a 33-8 loss to the New England Patriots, which they had two weeks to prepare for because of their bye.

Norton was hired as part of head coach Jack Del Rio’s staff when Del Rio was hired by Oakland in 2015; it was his first coordinator job. John Pagano, hired by the Raiders this year as assistant head coach-defense, will take over.

The Oakland Raiders have fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.,two days after the team’s 33-8 loss to New England. (AP)

In a statement on the team’s website, Del Rio said, “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.”

Las Vegas Review-Journal Raiders reporter Michael Gehlken reported that players began to speculate as to Norton’s future earlier Tuesday, when the 51-year old former linebacker was no on the field for the team’s practice, a walkthrough. Del Rio announced the news to the team after the session.

So when the Raiders play the Broncos on Sunday, Oakland’s former offensive coordinator, Bill Musgrave, will be in charge of Denver’s offense, and Pagano, who used to run the Los Angeles Chargers’ defense, will be in charge of Oakland’s defense.

After 11 weeks, Oakland has the 26th-ranked defense overall, giving up 367 yards per game. The Raiders have zero interceptions as a team for the season, and just 14 total sacks. They are also tied for last in the league in third-down defense, allowing conversions 46 percent of the time.