The Seattle Seahawks have fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. and defensive passing game coordinator Andre Curtis.
Norton has been Seattle's defensive coordinator for the last four seasons and has been a long-time staple on the coaching staffs of Pete Carroll dating back to their time together at USC. Norton began his coaching career as an assistant under Carroll at USC in 2004. He then followed Carroll to Seattle in 2010 to be the team's linebackers coach and he served in the role through the 2014 season. Norton then left for three seasons to become the defensive coordinator of the Oakland Raiders. He returned to Seattle in the defensive coordinator role in 2018 replacing previous coordinator Kris Richard.
Curtis has been with Seattle since 2015 working primarily with the secondary as a defensive backs coach and safeties coach. He was given the title of defensive passing game coordinator in 2018.
Seattle’s defense has gotten off to horrendous starts each of the last two seasons. In 2020, they were on pace at the midway point of the year to allowing the most passing yards in NFL history by over 1,000 yards. This season, the defense again was subject to allowing offenses to move way too freely up and down the field as the finished the season 28th in total defense.
The defense did improve significantly in the second half of the 2020 season to make it seem as though the issues they had early on had been corrected. Throw in the lack of an offseason and a shortened training camp with no preseason due to changes to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and such struggles could be explained away. However, when the unit again came out of the gates slowly this season with poor performances against Tennessee and Minnesota with a secondary that struggled significantly in coverage, it was apparent the issues still remained.
The 379.1 yards per game allowed this season ranked second-most in franchise history ahead of only the 399.0 yards allowed in 2001. Seattle finished the season ranked 28th in total offense and 12th in points allowed.
The decisions on Norton and Curtis were first reported by Bob Condotta and Adam Jude of The Seattle Times.
Per the report, the Seahawks are primarily considering two candidates to fill the defensive coordinator role vacated by Norton. Assistant head coach/defensive line coach Clint Hurtt and long-time NFL assistant Ed Donatell are at the top of the list for Seattle.
Hurtt has been the team’s defensive line coach since 2017 and was given the title of assistant head coach in 2018. Hurtt joined the Seahawks after serving as an assistant defensive line coach and then an outside linebackers coach under defensive coordinator Vic Fangio with the Chicago Bears from 2014-2016.
Donatell has spent the past three seasons as the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos under Vic Fangio, who left Chicago to become the Broncos head coach in 2019. Dontatell coached with Carroll for five seasons when they were a part of the New York Jets coaching staff in the 1990’s, including Carroll’s lone season as head coach of the Jets in 1994. Donatell also spent one season in Seattle as the defensive coordinator at the University of Washington in 2008.
Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - JANUARY 02: Head coach Pete Carroll and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. of the Seattle Seahawks look on during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at Lumen Field on January 02, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)