On Tuesday, April 30, just a few days after the Raptors fell to 1-4 with a 23-6 loss to the previously winless expansion team Oakland Odyssey, the Utah Raptors fired head coach Ken Norton, Jr.
While the Raptors have a new quarterback this season, coming off a 10-6 campaign in which they saw the franchises first playoff appearance, the team was expected to be much more competitive this year, but so far this season have scored more than 20 points just one time this year, a 31-30 victory at Carolina in Week 3, the team’s only win.
Through five games, the Raptors have averaged just 16.8 points per game despite having a championship-winning quarterback, one of the leagues top tight ends, an explosive second-year wide receiver in Dede Westbrook, who is coming off a tremendous rookie season, and improved their backfield.
“We thank Ken for everything he has done for this franchise but at this time we felt it was time to move on,” Owner Corey Johns said. “This was a tremendously difficult decision because we all love and respect Ken, but at the end of the day it’s a results driven sport and we have to perform better right now.”
Norton was the only coach the franchise new since returning at the Phoenix Scorpions in 2016 before moving to Utah last year. Norton was 24-29 as the head coach with one game to his name.
Pepper Johnson, who has served as the team’s defensive coordinator since its beginning, will take over as the interim head coach.
“Pepper is a well-respected former player who has worked with some of the best players in the NFL as a coach as well and we can’t think of anybody better to give an opportunity to take over this team for the rest of the year,” Johns said.
Upon being names the interim head coach Johnson said: “It’s bittersweet because Ken was a great friend but I’m looking forward to the opportunity to turn this team around. I know we have the talent to do it, we just have to get going in the right direction quickly and band together and commit to working hard.”