The Seahawks are apparently going back to the future for two of their top assistant coaches.
While, for now, Kris Richard twists in the wind.
Seattle’s former linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. is reuniting with Pete Carroll to be his defensive coordinator. KING-5 television’s Alex Rozier confirmed with Norton’s wife on Monday afternoon a three-year deal to run the Seahawks’ transitioning defense--even though Richard is still officially in that job.
The San Francisco 49ers confirmed Norton was leaving, a week after the Niners hired Norton as a defensive assistant.
"Last week, Ken was presented with an opportunity to once again coordinate a defense,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said in a statement released by the team. “Because of how we feel about Ken as a coach, we understand and respect his desire to pursue the position.”
Plus, Mike Solari is the Seahawks’ new-old offensive line coach replacing Tom Cable. That is according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.
Carroll fired Cable and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell last week.
Solari, who tuns 63 on Tuesday, was Seattle’s offensive line coach for Mike Holmgren and Jim Mora in 2008 and ‘09. Carroll then arrived in Seattle with a new staff in 2010. He is now is bringing back Solari to replace Cable--and get the running game back as Seattle’s featured approach on offense after failing to do that the last two seasons.
In that time, Solari has been the offensive line coach for the New York Giants, who floundered in 2017 on offense and just about everywhere else while finishing 3-13.
The Seahawks had no official word as of Monday evening on any of these moves, nor on the imminent hiring of former Rams and Jets play caller Brian Schottenheimer to replace Bevell as offensive coordinator. Richard, for now, is still officially Seattle’s defensive coordinator.
A league source with knowledge of the Seahawks’ pending moves said Carroll is orchestrating all of them and is still working on finalizing deals and details.
Norton’s wife told KING-5’s Rozier his is a three-year contract. That is one year beyond what the 66-year-old Carroll has left on his Seahawks deal.
The 51-year-old Norton is a former All-Pro linebacker and three-time Super Bowl winner in the NFL as a player with Dallas and San Francisco. He was Carroll’s linebackers coach at USC from 2004 until Carroll brought him to Seattle with him to have the same job with the Seahawks. That was from 2010 through the 2014 season. Norton then left following the Seahawks’ loss in Super Bowl 49 to become the Oakland Raiders’ defensive coordinator. He was in that job from 2015 until the Raiders fired him in late November. San Francisco hired him to be an assistant head coach on Jan. 8.
While he was, Seahawks veterans such as All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner stayed in touch with Norton. They respect and admire the fiery coach that helped mold them into a Super Bowl-champion defense in 2012-14, so they are likely all in, to borrow a Carroll phrase, with this hire to replace Richard.
Richard interviewed two weeks ago with the Indianapolis Colts for their head-coaching vacancy, a job that remains open. His status will become clear as these coaching moves from Indiana to Seattle become official. But for now, Richard deserves better than his current limbo, after three seasons running the Seahawks’ defense.
This past season, which was without a playoff appearance for the first time in six years, Richard’s unit lost five Pro Bowl stars to injury--including season-ending ones for Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril.
Solari has also been a line coach for the 49ers and Chiefs, an assistant line coach for the Packers and was Kansas City’f offensive coordinator for two seasons before Holmgren hired him to be Seattle’s line coach in 2008. He has been known in past to teach what some have called "power zone blocking." His schemes has included some man-up drive blocking, especially by bigger, plowing guards inside, with zone-blocking principles particular by the center and tackles. His way has been known to involve less thinking and athelticism and more go drive your man off the ball, especially insdie, than a traditional zone-blocking scheme that Cable ran for the Seahawks for seven years ending last week.