The Washington Commanders have been one of the laughing stocks of the NFL for more than two decades under former owner Dan Snyder.
But it’s a new era in DC. There’s a positivity surrounding the franchise that hasn’t been there in quite sometime and the new ownership group, led by Josh Harris, Magic Johnson and others, looked to their division rivals when it came to the first major head coaching hire.
The Washington Commanders surprised many around the NFL last Thursday when it was announced former Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn would be the man in charge if turning the culture around under new owner Josh Harris and general manager Adam Peters.
Since Peters was hired from the San Francisco 49ers as the team’s new GM, almost every reporter —both locally and nationally — had the Commanders attached to offensive coordinator Ben Johnson pegged as the next coach.
But while the Washington brass was on the plane to Detroit, the 37-year-old OC said he was staying with the Lions in a move that stunned everyone in NFL circles.
Dan Quinn didn’t hesitate to tap into his former colleagues in Dallas when taking the job over. He also brought secondary coach/passing game coordinator Joe Whitt Jr. as Washington’s new defensive coordinator, who was scheduled to interview with Dallas for the same position.
Quinn played a vital role in turning around a Cowboys defense that gave up 29.6 points per game in 2020. In the time that he was the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator, the defense finished top 10 in points allowed, ranking fifth during the 2023 season. The Cowboys were also fifth in total yards allowed and tied for 12th in turnovers. He was named Assistant Coach of the Year by The Associated Press in 2021.
While the new Commanders head coach took an unconventional approach, naming former Arizona Cardinals an USC assistant Kliff Kingsbury as his offensive coordinator, he’s continued to try to poach assistants from Dallas.
Washington Commanders Hiring Ken Norton As Part Of Defensive Staff
On Monday, multiple reports confirmed the Commanders were hiring former Raiders and Seahawks defensive coordinator Ken Norton returning to Westwood, where he was a 1987 first-team All-America selection and Butkus Award finalist at linebacker.
Prior to returning to UCLA, Norton completed a stint as defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks, a title he held from 2018-2021. During that tenure in Seattle, the Seahawks advanced to the NFC playoffs three times. He coached several Pro Bowl players during that span, including cornerback Shaquill Griffin, linebacker Bobby Wagner and safeties Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs. Wagner was named an All-Pro each season. In 2021, linebacker Jordyn Brooks piled up a franchise-record 183 total tackles.
From 2015-17, Norton served as the defensive coordinator of the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders advanced to the playoffs in 2016 after finishing second in the AFC West. He coached All-Pro linebacker Khalil Mack, who was named AP Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 and garnered All-Pro selections in 2015 and 2016. Safety Charles Woodson also earned All-Pro acclaim (2015) during Norton’s time in Oakland.
Ken Norton worked under new Washington Commanders head coach Dan Quinn as linebackers coach for Seattle from 2010-14, helping the Seahawks advance to the playoffs in four of his five seasons. Seattle finished first in the NFL West in 2013 and 2014 while posting a combined 25-7 record and advancing to back-to-back Super Bowls (XLVIII and XLIX). The Seahawks won Super Bowl XLVIII at the conclusion of the 2013 season after producing one of the best defensive performances in NFL history. Seattle led the league in fewest yards allowed, fewest points allowed and most takeaways after holding 13 opponents to 17 or fewer points during the 2013 season
While his title hasn’t been confirmed, it’s safe to say Norton will likely work with the linebacker corps in D.C.