Kevin O’Connell declines to say if Ed Donatell will return as Vikings’ defensive coordinator

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Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell isn’t saying if Ed Donatell will return as defensive coordinator for the 2023 season.

O’Connell was asked today if Donatell will be back and didn’t answer, instead saying that right now he’s in “evaluation mode” with both his players and his assistant coaches, and that the evaluation will be “ongoing” this week.

The 65-year-old Donatell is a longtime NFL defensive coordinator who just finished his first year on the job in Minnesota, and the results weren’t good. The Vikings won the NFC North, but they did so in a season in which their defense took a step backward, and in the playoff loss to the Giants, the Vikings had no answer for Giants quarterback Daniel Jones.

Any coordinator whose head coach declines to commit to him is on the hot seat, but at this point O’Connell isn’t saying Donatell is done, just that the decision has not yet been made.

37 responses to “Kevin O’Connell declines to say if Ed Donatell will return as Vikings’ defensive coordinator

  1. There were plays where some viking defenders were playing zone and others were playing man-to-man… on the same play. They were completely unprepared.

  2. If they asked the same question about Wes Phillips, who is the OC. I bet he would have a firm answer on him.

    No answer usually gives you the answer you are looking for.

  3. The answer to the question “is the defense lacking talent or is it Donatell?” …is BOTH

    We will free up a ton of cap space cutting aging veterans and already have their replacements in the roster, just hope those rookies can stay healthy next year.

    Defensive tackle is the priority this offseason.

  4. This is not the worst group of talent in the history of the Vikings organization. But by many measures it was the worst environmental performance in team history. Then logically the scheme and/or the ability of the coaches to teach is to blame for much of the results. How can he possibly keep Ed and risk wasting another year next year if performance continues to be horrible.

    The problem is not aging veterans. Only 2 players are 31 or older…Harrison Smith and Patrick Peterson, and both made significant contributions in different games.

  5. The defense really wasn’t much worse than either of the prior two seasons if you look at the numbers.

  6. If they don’t fire Donatell, then they should fire O’Connell. This should be a no-brainer. Donatell’s defensive scheme was putrid, and the stats/results speak for themselves. Also, the Vikes need to get rid of some of those aging veterans and bring in fresh, young players with speed and strength. Finally, Minnesota needs to get rid of Cousins and find a QB who is mobile and who won’t fold when the season is on the line. Captain Checkdown needs to go. The NFL is full of mobile young QBs, and Cousins isn’t among them.

  7. As far as the Minnesota Vikings defense(less) is concerned, you have to ask yourself-just what in the hell is it they do all week?

  8. I don’t know which phrase was used more by the announcers with the Vikings D on the field, “broken tackle” or “wide open”.

  9. If Ed Donatell isn’t gone, Kevin O’Connell should be gone. Clearly O’Connell isn’t the guy you want to be head coach if he doesn’t make a change at defensive coordinator.

  10. Of course he’s not gonna announce his D coordinator’s firing via year end press conference. The thing to keep in mind is that this D stunk the last 2 years of the Zimmer regime too, meaning it’s not all the 2022 scheme (which was lousy) but also the personnel. Heck, the D will be 20% better if they just get rid of Chandon Sullivan.

  11. Some people aren’t cutout to be a coordinator i.e. Donatell and Joe Barry

  12. You simply don’t switch to a 3-4 when no one on your roster has experience in the scheme.

  13. Ed Donatell absolutely need to be fired. Former Wisconsin Badgers Defensive Coordinator Jim Leonard would be an excellent hire by the Vikings.

  14. govchris says:
    January 18, 2023 at 2:55 pm

    The problem is not aging veterans. Only 2 players are 31 or older…Harrison Smith and Patrick Peterson, and both made significant contributions in different games.
    _________

    I don’t know who made 31 the cutoff to be an aging veteran. I look at performance and capabilities. The biggest problem is the linebackers, meaning real linebackers, not 3-4 edge rushers. Eric Kendricks and Jordan Hicks are too slow to be in this kind of defense. Harrison Smith has had his most success near the line of scrimmage and was misused as exclusively a deep safety this year. There isn’t enough of a pass rush to hide the problems in the secondary.

    This defense needs to get younger, faster, and cheaper at every position. You could replace every player on defense with rookies and low-cost veterans and the results couldn’t be any worse. I’m hoping Kwesi has the guts to move on from the veterans we fans love but their best days are behind them and they cost too much. I’m also hoping they go back to a 4-3 defense rather than this “3-4 25% of the time and 4-2-5 on passing downs and blah blah blah,” especially if Hunter is going to stick around.

  15. They must make all the proper HR moves before they sit Donatell down and tell him; ” You’re are a great guy and a hard worker….but we are moving in a different direction….a direction away from you…”

  16. Donatell was awesome during his time on staff with the 49ers. What happened? Peter Principle?

  17. Did Ed call that ridiculous throwback to Kurt? Look in the mirror Kev you hurt your defense on several plays

  18. He should go and so should Cousins. This defense isn’t overflowing with talent, but with better preparation (and some schematic coherence) they could be good enough when paired with what should be one of the best offenses in football.

    How to move on from Cousins (who has been better than his critics allege in the past but not nearly good enough this year) before Jefferson hits free agency is much more of an open question.

  19. retired4now says:
    January 18, 2023 at 4:10 pm
    Ed Donatell absolutely need to be fired. Former Wisconsin Badgers Defensive Coordinator Jim Leonard would be an excellent hire by the Vikings.————————————Except Jim Leonard is used to working with more talent.

  20. All those one-score wins amounted to nothing. And to think this franchise could’ve had a Harbaugh. Vikings continue to be as well run as the state they reside in, and their fanbase… I’ve never seen a more clear-cut case of Stockholm Syndrome – don’t worry though – next year will be your team’s year.

  21. They couldn’t be any more fraudulent – even if they replaced him with George Santos.

  22. To be honest, the remaining vets on D from the 2017 NFCCG should have been fired after 38-7. No clue why they decided to retain those folks as they have all been in steady decline since Nick Foles carved them up like a Thanksgiving Turkey.

  23. People keep asking why we didnt play some of the young guys on defense. We used to say the same thing about guard. Why can’t we play Dru Samia , he couldn’t be any worse. Then he was. But by refusing to try changes, the issue of whether we needed more talent was rendered moot. Because he wouldn’t change from what wasn’t working to at least try, put the blame squarely on Donatelle. If he tried other players or schemes and they failed we could blame a lack of talent, but now we only know one thing for sure, Donatelle couldn’t get it done.

  24. If he tried other players or schemes and they failed we could blame a lack of talent, but now we only know one thing for sure, Donatelle couldn’t get it done.
    ++++++
    The defense has been bad 3 years straight.
    You can blame the lack of talent. If you are honest enough.

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