The Minnesota Vikings are making a change atop their defensive masthead. On Thursday, head coach Kevin O’Connell released a statement announcing that the organization has moved on from defensive coordinator Ed Donatell. O’Connell added that the team will begin the process of looking for a new defensive coordinator 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.”
Donatell was brought aboard to lead Minnesota’s defense last offseason, joining O’Connell’s staff as he ascended to head coach after being the offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams. The 65-year-old has been in the NFL dating back to 1990 when he broke through as a defensive backs coach with the New York Jets. He bounced around the league since then and held the DC title for various teams: Packers (2000-03), Falcons (2004-06), Washington (2008) and Broncos (2019-21).
Prior to taking the job with the Vikings, Donatell had initially accepted a senior defensive role with the Seahawks but decided to leave Seattle at the alter to become the defensive coordinator in Minnesota.
During the season, the Vikings defense proved to be the team’s Achilles heel. It allowed the second-most total yards in the NFL, the second-most passing yards, and were tied for the third-most points allowed. Minnesota’s defense also ranked 27th in the NFL in DVOA. In the Super Wild Card Weekend loss to the Giants, Donatell’s defense surrendered 31 points, 431 yards of total offense, and allowed New York to average 6.3 yards per play as Minnesota was sent home after a 13-4 campaign and being the No. 2 seed in the NFC. All that proved to be enough for O’Connell to seek new management of his defense going forward.