Raiders defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. relieved of duties

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders have relieved Ken Norton Jr. of his defensive coordinator duties.

John Pagano, who joined the Raiders last offseason as assistant head coach/defense, will take over defensive playcalling duties.

The move comes after the Raiders lost 33-8 to the New England Patriots on Sunday in Mexico City to fall to 4-6 on the season.

"After careful thought, I have made a difficult decision to part ways with Ken Norton Jr. as defensive coordinator," coach Jack Del Rio said in a statement. "I have the utmost respect for Ken as a person and as a coach, but I feel that moving John Pagano into the playcalling 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."

Norton has been the Raiders' defensive coordinator since 2015, when he joined Del Rio's first Oakland staff. He was the linebackers coach for the Seattle Seahawks for four seasons before joining Oakland.

Pagano came to Oakland after five seasons as the Chargers' defensive coordinator. His Chargers defense was tied for the NFL lead last season with 18 interceptions.

Despite Pagano being brought to the Raiders to help with communication in the secondary, Oakland has yet to intercept a pass this season and has the No. 27-ranked pass defense in the NFL, giving up 253.2 yards through the air per game.

"The ax came down on everybody," said free safety Reggie Nelson. "Everybody felt it in this building. Players, we love Norton, regardless. Unfortunately, the production wasn't a high standard this year and, like I said, it's a production league. He's not playing; we are.

"My experience with Coach Pagano, it's all been good. I mean, we shouldn't skip a beat, because he's been in our room all year and the secondary knows what kind of coach he is, so I'm pretty sure it's going to be a nice transition and we still can be out there playing fast and getting the job done."

Raiders opponents have completed a league-high 72.3 percent of their passes this season. Oakland is also the first team in modern NFL history, since 1933, to go through the first 10 games of a season without an interception, according to Elias Sports Bureau research.

The Raiders have allowed 3,670 total yards this season through Week 11, 26th in the NFL. They finished last season having allowed 6,001 yards, also 26th in the league.

In addition, the Raiders' 14 sacks are tied for last in the NFL with the New York Giants. And after having a turnover margin of plus-16 in 2016, tied with the Kansas City Chiefs for best in the league, Oakland is tied for 29th at minus-9 through 10 games.

"I really can't explain it," said cornerback David Amerson. "We have some misfortunate things happen, on both sides of the ball, but I really can't explain how we haven't been able to create turnovers or do some of the things that we did last year.

"We've got to find a way if we want to be playing in January."

Said defensive tackle Justin Ellis: "I mean, we sure could have done some different things. [Norton] made some good points while he was here. We played under our talent level, and those things come with consequences."

Pagano was not available to the media on Tuesday. He last spoke to reporters during training camp and was asked about his relationship with Norton.

"I think it's been great," Pagano said in August. "It's outstanding. I think the big thing is I'm another set of eyes in there, to be able to help in certain aspects, see it certain ways. It's something that I've been focusing on more, the back end, making sure the things that we're doing back there are shored up and making sure our communication between the linebackers and the secondary is good.

"Me and Kenny have been working great together. It's a job to do and the most important thing is to go out there and win football games."