Why did the Minnesota Vikings fire Defensive Coordinator, Ed Donatell?
Following an extremely disappointing result in the Wild Card Round, the Vikings have seemingly taken the decision to shake things up in house, beginning with their defensive coordinator after just one season.
After a season in which they were one of the best teams in the league, the Minnesota Vikings suffered a shock loss to the 9-7-1 New York Giants, in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. Needless to say, changes are now being made.
Vikings fire DC Ed Donatell
In the wake of their shock loss to the Giants, most could have guessed that the Vikings would be reviewing their personnel. Now, it seems as if that process has registered its first casualty and specifically in the defensive department. According to a statement released by head coach Kevin O’Connell on Thursday, the franchise has taken the decision to part ways with defensive coordinator, Ed Donatell. O’Connell spoke of the difficulty involved in the decision, but highlighted the idea that it is with the team’s interest in mind. The Vikings coach also indicated that the search for a new DC would begin immediately.
“Today I informed Ed Donatell we will be going in a different direction at defensive coordinator in 2023,” O’Connell’s statement reads. “While this was a difficult decision because of the tremendous respect I have for Ed as a person and a coach, I believe it is the right move for the future of our football team. I want to thank Ed for his commitment to the Vikings this past season, for the positive impact he had on our players and coaches and for his role in helping me as a first-year head coach lay this foundation. We all wish Ed and his wife, Shari, only the best in the future. ...We will immediately begin our search to fill this critical role as we continue to build a championship standard for the Minnesota Vikings.”
Ed Donatell’s path to this point
It was just last offseason, when Donatell joined Kevin O’Connell’s staff in Minnesota to work with the defense. O’Connell of course, had himself only recently come from working as the Los Angeles Rams’ offensive coordinator, which is to say there was a new feel to the Vikings’ project. That’s not to say that Donatell is a novice in the game. Indeed, the 65-year-old has been in the NFL since 1990 when his name became widely known after a successful period working as a defensive backs coach for the New York Jets. From there, Donatell became a bit of a journeyman as he spent time working in the same position with a number of teams including the Packers (2000-03), Falcons (2004-06), Commanders (2008) and the Broncos (2019-21). Interestingly, Donatell actually committed to a senior defensive role with the Seahawks prior to taking the job in Minnesota, but decided last minute that Seattle wasn’t for him.
Regarding what brought the DC to this point, it has to be said that despite Minnesota’s impressive 14-3 record on the regular season, their defense was not nearly as stellar. Though hard to believe, the Vikings defense allowed the second-most total yards in the NFL, the second-most passing yards, and that wasn’t bad enough, were tied for the third-most points allowed. To punctuate the point, the Vikings’ defense ranked 27th in DVOA. Against the Giants in their Wild Card clash - a team with a 9-7 record - Minnesota conceded 31 points, 431 yards of total offense, and allowed New York to average 6.3 yards per play. That from a team that was the No. 2 seed in the NFC. Ultimately, while it may seem harsh and there are undoubtedly several other factors in play - there always are - the Vikings couldn’t do much worse. Perhaps with a change in personnel, they just might do better.