Back in a time where being a coach for the Seattle Seahawks under Pete Carroll used to mean something Womens Frank Clark Jersey , Ken Norton, Jr. was hired away by Jack Del Rio to be the defensive coordinator for the Oakland Raiders in 2015. Norton had spent 11 years with Carroll, including the previous five for the Seahawks as linebackers coach under Gus Bradley and Dan Quinn, with back-to-back Super Bowl appearances.When Quinn left after Seattles second straight season of winning the conference, Carroll hired Kris Richard to take over as defensive coordinator, while Norton went to the Raiders. The two assistants saw their paths take different directions from that point forward, but now as things have come full circle, Norton suddenly looks to be ahead of his longtime colleague with USC and the Seahawks.But really isnt just about timing and talent?Oakland went 3-13 and finished 32nd in points allowed in 2014, which is why they fired Dennis Allen (and replacement Tony Sparano), and hired Del Rio. Thats where Norton came in and he helped the Raiders improve to 22nd in points allowed, with 16 more sacks than they had the year before, and a notably better pass defense. All because of Norton, right?Probably a lot more to do with second-year linebacker Khalil Mack actually, who went from three sacks to 15. And as weve seen, Mack doesnt need a certain coach in order to be productive. Not that the Raiders had a super talented defense (Charles Woodson, Aldon Smith, Malcolm Smith, David Amerson, Dan Williams, Mario Edwards), but they also werent super good. They were just a little better.Then they werent.Then in September of 2016, Del Rio reportedly took playcalling away from Norton following a terrible start to the season by the defense; they gave up over 1 Womens Nick Vannett Jersey ,000 yards over the first two games. They stopped giving up 500 yards per game, but the Oakland defense was still among the worst in the NFL, even after adding Bruce Irvin and Reggie Nelson, probably because many other starters were still very bad. The Raiders finished dead last in net yards per pass attempt allowed. They did go 12-4, but lost badly in the first round of the playoffs. Maybe its a different story if not for Derek Carrs broken leg, but the defense still stood no shot of helping them through that gauntlet.After a 4-6 start last season, Oakland fired Norton, severing ties completely. They had forced just five turnovers in 10 games. He hit the open market as a coach who wasnt good enough to even improve the Oakland Raiders defense. Not a good place to be in.Luckily enough, Carroll didnt care about any of his Oakland issues. He knew Norton for over a decade and he knew that he had the talent for a good defense. Isnt that really the majority of what you need?Richard had the Seahawks back at their number one ranking for scoring defense in 2015, getting through a bad wild card game in Minnesota before losing on the road to the Carolina Panthers; they gave up 31 first half points to the Panthers but a significant problem that day was incompetence by the offense and then Seattle shut Carolina down in the second half. The Seahawks were third in points allowed in 2016, including first in yards per carry allowed. Quarterbacks had a rating of just 85 against Seattle, with only 16 touchdown passes.The Seahawks held the Detroit Lions to six in a wild card win, but again lost badly on the road in the divisional round.Things finally took a downward turn in 2017, with Seattle finishing 13th in points allowed and surrendering 30+ five times. However, there was a significant change that year: No Cliff Avril for 12 games, no Richard Sherman or Kam Chancellor for seven, Earl Thomas missed two games and was recovering from a broken leg, K.J. Wright was out for the defenses worst game in years.It was a lack of talent.Carroll decided to shake things up this is more the cause for Richards firing than anything, I believe and found his old friend on the coaching free agent market. Now where are the Seahawks, Richard, and Norton?Well, somewhat quietly Norton has certainly raised his stock … ett-jersey , hasnt he? Seattle is ninth in points allowed, seventh in yards allowed, fourth in net yards per pass attempt allowed, and has a top-10 ranking in DVOA again. Whats the difference between the 2018 Seahawks and all of his Raiders defenses that werent as good? Well, Oakland had Mack, and Seattle has had an actual defense.That obviously changes now with the injury to Thomas. And if the Seahawks pass defense gets worse week-to-week, well know why. If Nortons resume goes from coached a top-10 defense to helped sink a top-10 defense, itll be because he didnt have as much talent to end the year as he did to start it. Norton may be a great coach whatever that even means but coaches are only as good as the talent that they can put on the field. Bill Belichick is famous for overturning players-not-named-Brady all the time, but less talked about is the decade hes spent with Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung as his safeties. If the players work, they work. If they dont, youre out of a job.Richard is drawing praise for his work with the Dallas Cowboys secondary as an assistant there now, including the Pro Bowl-caliber season for Byron Jones at cornerback. Certainly Richards knowledge has something to do with that, but it would be for nothing if Jones wasnt one an extremely special athlete with the capacity to play at this level. And eventually, Richard will get another chance as a defensive coordinator too, perhaps leading to a head coaching opportunity.His best way back there will be to continue to follow the talent. The Los Angeles Rams have clinched the NFC West. Its been in the bag for two weeks now. Theyre going to the playoffs. But which version of them will show up in the postseason the battering... ram of a team we saw early on, or the squad thats run a minus-4 point differential since Halloween? Yes, theyve been outscored in all of November and December combined.For fun, since the Seahawks are playing not-terrible football right now and the Rams are playing maybe-terrible football at some key positions, I decided to compare the rivals statistical performance, all quick-like. Just for the month. Since the playoffs are right around the corner and all.Examining some flawed stat like yards per carry and coming to a conclusion one way or another is the worst kind of cherry picking. We need much more data than a single point. A look across at 13 statistical measures (not 12) will show what any spectator had to notice, after watching the Rams lose in Chicago and then at home on Sunday Night Football: theyre not the juggernaut they were in the sunny days of September and October. There are phases where the Seahawks are clearly outplaying the Rams; can we vault into a hope-raft of those trends perpetuating themselves into the postseason, where the teams could well meet? RECORDSeahawks 2-1 / Rams 1-2Advantage: Seattle? Not so quick. LA has faced teams with a combined 18-18 record at the time; Seattles foes were 11-24-1 Womens Russell Wilson Jersey , having met the Niners twice. Also, the Rams had two road games to the Seahawks one.Still, if it can be helped, youd rather not be on a two-game losing streak in December, as the Rams are.POINT DIFFERENTIALSeahawks +38 / Rams -2Advantage: Seattle, definitively.Los Angeles losses in Chicago and to Philadelphia offset a 14-point win in Detroit during Week 13. Interestingly, the Seahawks also lost in Chicago by single digits and won by 14 in Detroit. Difference is, Seattle took care of its NFC East opponent (Dallas) handily at home in September.VARIOUS TEAM OFFENSIVE STUFFSeahawks 9 TD / Rams 5 TDLA isnt getting scores through the air anymore; four of its five touchdowns in the last three weeks have come through Gurley on the ground. Seattles moving the ball every which way, with a defensive touchdown to boot. The Bobby Wagner naptime TD.Seahawks 58 first downs / Rams 61 first downsPretty even.Seahawks 5.4 yards per play / Rams 4.9 yards per playHalf a yard per play is a fairly sizeable advantage.Seahawks 990 total yards / Rams 971 total yards.Total yardage isnt a great stat on its own. But when two offenses are generating relatively the same amount of yardage and first downs, over three games, its fair to call their performance somewhat even. Depending on touchdowns and giveaways of course, which both favor Seattle. Speaking of:TURNOVERSSeahawks 1, differential +4 / Rams 9, differential -3LA has a problem with ball security this month. Its a big problem. Its why they lost their games. Single-handedly, Jared Goff has well, lets get to that guy.QB PERFORMANCESeahawks 44-68-494-6-1 / Rams 72-132-726-1-7Russell Wilson has the edge in completion percentage (64.7 to 54.5) and yards per attempt (7.3 to 5.5). In TDs and INTs, its not close. Goff has been terrible. In his defense, it was cold that one week, sort of.Seriously, one TD and seven picks in December for Goff? Wison has six picks all season.Clear Disadvantage: RamsRB PERFORMANCE (TOTAL)Seahawks 86-442-5.1-3 / Rams 52-239-4.6-4Id prefer to use success rate but thats a lot of research. What the composite rushing numbers for the Rams can tell me, is, theyre not having any more success overall than the Seahawks. Todd Gurleys MVP case is about to be dismissed. Or maybe its Chris Carson who should be getting more recognition.VARIOUS TEAM DEFENSIVE STUFF Seahawks allowing 8.2 Y/A and 3.4 Y/C / Rams allowing 6.6 Y/A and 4.5 Y/CThe pass defense for Seattle has been opportunistic at best and swiss cheesy at worst. But the run D has shown up. The reverse is somewhat true for LA Authentic J.R. Sweezy Jersey , which liminted Matt Stafford, Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles through the air but was not stout on the ground.Seahawks allowing 16.3 ppg / Rams allowing 20.7 ppgYoud prefer to face Mullens-Cousins-Mullens over any three-game stretch, but remember that 14 points came in garbage time against Seattle and seven more on a kickoff return, so the more accurate discrepancy here is 9.3 to 20.7 ppg.Seahawks with 8 sacks / Rams with 5 sacksThought the storied LA defensive line might make a better showing here, but.By the way, were still looking for a category where the Rams are outdoing the Seahawks. Besides pass defense.SPECIAL TEAMS Seahawks with 2.74 expected points / Rams with -0.52 expected pointsPlayoff games turn on plays like a big kick return, a missed field goal, a muffed punt. Both teams can and have produces all three of those outcomes. Seattle just happens to limit the bad plays better than LA.SUMMARY Sean McVay didnt know his team could lose two games in a row when it counted. Now he does. Theres no need to be surprised, Coach. Youre struggling. It happens to everyone. I mean, even the Super Bowl XLVIII champs lost three times. But to add a final disclaimer: Arbitrary endpoints are shit. Originally Id planned on this post being a two-game comparison. The results were so tilted to ward the Seahawks that I expanded the sample to all of December. To help the Rams look better. Its called compassion. Look it up.Seriously, though, if you go back another few weeks, both teams are 4-2 in their last six games. The Rams are still getting outscored, Goff is still sloppier than Wilson, both defenses are still flawed, and all that separates them is a play or two in the game they faced off.Bodes well for a playoff matchup that could come down to the wire, again.