RENTON, Wash. – The Seattle Seahawks have hired Brian Schottenheimer as their offensive coordinator and are bringing back Ken Norton Jr. to oversee the defense.
The Seahawks officially announced the anticipated hires Tuesday after reports surfaced over the holiday weekend of agreements with the pair. San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan released a statement Monday that Norton had been offered a coordinator position less than a week after Norton was hired by the 49ers. The Seahawks did not confirm Norton’s hiring until Tuesday.
Norton was the defensive coordinator in Oakland before getting fired after 10 games last season. He was subsequently hired by the 49ers last week as an assistant head coach before taking the job with Seattle. Norton replaces Kris Richard, who was Seattle’s defensive coordinator for the past three seasons and was selected ahead of Norton for the job in 2015.
Norton served as linebackers coach for Seattle from 2010-14, but when he was bypassed for the job three years ago jumped at the chance to be a coordinator in Oakland. Along with firing Richard, the Seahawks let go of linebackers coach Michael Barrow.
Schottenheimer takes over for Darrell Bevell, who was fired last week after seven seasons in charge of Seattle’s offense. Bevell was let go along with offensive line coach Tom Cable following a disappointing season where the Seahawks offense was defined by inconsistency.
Seattle also hired veteran Mike Solari as offensive line coach, replacing Cable.
Schottenheimer was an offensive coordinator from 2006-2014 with the New York Jets and the St. Louis Rams. He spent the 2015 season as the offensive coordinator at Georgia before returning to the NFL the past two seasons as the quarterbacks coach with the Indianapolis Colts.
Schottenheimer will inherit an offense that has great potential but significant problems to solve.
Russell Wilson led the NFL with 34 touchdown passes this season but was regularly underwhelming during slow first-half performances that put stress on Seattle’s defense and often had the Seahawks playing from behind.
Schottenheimer’s biggest challenge will be re-energizing a Seattle running game that disappeared this season. Wilson was the Seahawks’ leading rusher by more than 500 yards. No running back for Seattle had more than 240 yards rushing and the six running backs who carried the ball for the Seahawks in 2017 averaged a mere 3.3 yards per carry.
His final three seasons in New York were the most optimistic sign that Schottenheimer can help the Seahawks return to the run-first style that head coach Pete Carroll desires. The Jets were the No. 9 run team in the NFL in 2008; No. 1 in 2009; and No. 4 in 2010.
With the return of Norton, Seattle chose a return to the past. There was a belief Seattle was trying to bring back Gus Bradley, but the former Seahawks defensive coordinator opted to remain with the Los Angeles Chargers. Norton knows much of Seattle’s veteran personnel and will be more apt to run what Carroll wants defensively.
Richard’s units slipped the past two seasons, but that was partly due to critical injuries. Seattle lost safety Earl Thomas for the final month of the 2016 season and played half of the 2017 season without Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Cliff Avril. Seattle’s defense ranked 11th overall and 13th in points allowed this season.
Solari joins Seattle from the New York Giants. He has ties to the Seahawks after serving as offensive line coach in 2008-09.