Despite their 13-4 record during the 2022 NFL season, the Minnesota Vikings’ defense looked pretty rough, finishing near the bottom of the league in a lot of categories and concluding the season by getting shredded by Daniel Jones and the New York Giants on Wild Card Weekend. Changes are to be expected, and those changes are starting right at the top.
Statement from Head Coach Kevin O’Connell pic.twitter.com/ntRqd4cr4A— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) January 19, 2023
The Vikings have, officially, relieved defensive coordinator Ed Donatell of his duties, per a statement from head coach Kevin O’Connell.
Here’s the statement, in full:
“Today I informed Ed Donatell we will be going in a different direction at defensive coordinator in 2023. 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 one of the first hires the team made after installing O’Connell as the head coach in February. With O’Connell’s inexperience as a head coach, the logic of having someone on the defensive side of the ball with experience made a lot of sense.
Unfortunately, it didn’t appear as though Donatell’s experience made a whole lot of difference during the season. The defense was often out of position and slow to react, and while some of that can probably be laid at the feet of aging players on that side of the ball for the Vikings, it also appeared that Donatell was slow to make adjustments to the scheme while games were taking place.
In his press conference earlier this week, O’Connell expressed a desire to remain a 3-4 defense, so that’s where the Vikings are going to focus their search. We’ll have more on names they might be interested in talking to as news comes in about them.
Once again, the Minnesota Vikings have fired defensive coordinator Ed Donatell after one season with the team and have started the search for his replacement.