April 18, 2024

Under former owner Dan Snyder, the Washington Commanders became one of the NFL’s laughingstocks for more than two decades.

In DC, however, a new age has begun. There is a sense of optimism about the team that hasn’t been seen in a long time, and the new ownership group, lead by Josh Harris, Magic Johnson, and others, looked to their division opponents for the first significant head coaching hire.

The Washington Commanders startled many in the NFL last Thursday when it was announced that former Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will be in charge of transforming the culture under new owner Josh Harris and general manager Adam Peters.

Since Peters was appointed as the team’s new general manager from the San Francisco 49ers, practically every reporter, both locally and nationally, projected the Commanders’ offensive coordinator Ben Johnson as the next coach.

But, as the Washington brass was on the plane to Detroit, the 37-year-old OC announced that he will stay with the Lions, surprising everyone in NFL circles.
When Dan Quinn took over the role, he didn’t hesitate to reach out to his former Dallas colleagues. He also hired secondary coach/passing game coordinator Joe Whitt Jr. as Washington’s new defensive coordinator, who was due to interview with Dallas for the role.

Quinn was instrumental in turning around the Cowboys’ defense, which allowed 29.6 points per game in 2020. During his tenure as defensive coordinator for the Cowboys, the defense finished in the top ten in terms of points allowed, ranking fifth in 2023. The Cowboys ranked seventh in total yards allowed and tied for 12th in turnovers. The Associated Press awarded him the Assistant Coach of the Year in 2021.

While the new Commanders head coach chose a unique strategy, selecting former Arizona Cardinals and USC assistant Kliff Kingsbury as his offensive coordinator, he has continued to try to recruit assistants from Dallas.

Washington Commanders Hiring Ken Norton As Part Of Defensive Staff

 

Ken Norton Jr. reportedly coming home to join UCLA's staff as inside  linebackers coach - Los Angeles Times

 

On Monday, various reports indicated that the Commanders had hired former Raiders and Seahawks defensive coordinator Ken Norton, who was a first-team All-America linebacker and Butkus Award finalist in 1987.

Prior to returning to UCLA, Norton served as the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive coordinator from 2018 to 2021. During his stint in Seattle, the Seahawks progressed to the NFC playoffs three times. He coached several Pro Bowl players during that time, including cornerback Shaquill Griffin, linebacker Bobby Wagner, and safeties Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs. Wagner was recognized as an All-Pro every season. In 2021, linebacker Jordyn Brooks set a franchise record with 183 total tackles.

Norton served as the Oakland Raiders’ defensive coordinator from 2015 to 2017. The Raiders made the playoffs in 2016 after finishing second in the AFC West. He coached All-Pro linebacker Khalil Mack, who was selected AP Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 and received All-Pro honors in 2015 and 2016. During Norton’s tenure in Oakland, safety Charles Woodson was also named an All-Pro in 2015.

From 2010 to 2014, Ken Norton was the Seattle Seahawks’ linebackers coach under new Washington Commanders head coach Dan Quinn, and he helped the Seahawks to the playoffs four times in five seasons. Seattle finished first in the NFL West in 2013 and 2014, with a combined 25-7 record and back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. The Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII at the end of the 2013 season after putting together one of the finest defensive performances in NFL history. Seattle topped the league in fewest yards allowed, fewest points allowed, and most takeaways after limiting 13 opponents to 17 or less points in 2013.

While his title has not been announced, it is safe to assume Norton will work with the linebacker corps in Washington.

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