Several members of the Oakland Raiders defense weren’t happy with the decision to fire defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. But they also realized that, if it happens to him, it could happen to them.
“Guys saw the Norton situation, and that kind of got guys fired up, I would say, and more focused,” linebacker Bruce Irvin recently told NBC Sports California. “Once again, I think guys are looking at that situation and thinking, ‘Man, we can get fired, too.’ It’s not only coaches. It falls on the players, too. It was a wake-up call for us, and guys really started to hone in and get in their books. We’re practicing better, and it’s starting to translate on Sundays now.”
That wasn’t Irvin’s first reaction. The former Seahawk was mad that Norton was let go.
“Ken Norton’s like a father to me,” Irvin said. “He has changed my life in so many ways, not only on the field but off the field. It was a tough situation. I basically came to Oakland for him, and he was let go.”
Irvin tweeted “BULLSH-T” after Norton was fired.
“The tweet was just me,” Irvin said. “I’m a very outspoken person, anyway. I’m going to say what I want to say when I want to say it. I was mad at the moment, but I talked to Jack and he understood. He didn’t hold anything against me. He just gave me a few days, and it blew over.”
It blew over, and the end result has been a defensive improvement. They’ll need it on Sunday; the last time they faced the Chiefs, Kansas City scored 30 points. And while the Raiders scored 31 in that same game, it’s always easier to win if the opposing offense is producing less. (#Analysis.)
However it plays out, Sunday’s rematch at Arrowhead Stadium feels like an elimination game, with the loser falling to 6-7 and likely out of the hunt of the AFC West crown.