Four days after a wild-card loss to the New York Giants ended their season, the Minnesota Vikings announced they've ended defensive coordinator Ed Donatell's tenure with the club.
Donatell was fired after one season on Thursday by the Vikings, who released a statement with head coach Kevin O'Connell explaining the decision.
"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," O'Connell said in the statement, released through the 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's dismissal is hardly a surprise. The longtime NFL assistant came under fire throughout much of his first season in Minnesota and that blaze only grew hotter after the Vikings' 31-24 loss Sunday in which Giants quarterback Daniel Jones carved up the Minnesota defense and led an effort that collected 431 yards of offense.
By the time Wednesday rolled around, O'Connell was dancing around questions regarding Donatell's future, saying coaching evaluations were an ongoing process that could continue throughout the rest of the week. Nonetheless, the writing was on the wall before it was put into a statement Thursday.
Donatell, who was a defensive coordinator with the Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons and the Denver Broncos previously, joined the Vikings as part of O'Connell's first staff. Though Minnesota found surprising success in the win-loss column, the defense struggled for the most part. The Vikings were a stunning 11-0 in one-score games throughout the regular season, but that magic ran out in the playoffs as Donatell's D allowed 30 or more points in a game for the sixth time.
Minnesota finished the season ranked 28th in points allowed and 31st in yards. Led by a star-laden offense and perhaps a few bounces of the ball in the right direction, the Vikings won the NFC North despite their defensive inefficiencies, but when the clock ran out on the season it did so on Donatell's stay, as well.
The 65-year-old Donatell joined the NFL coaching ranks back in 1990 with the New York Jets, and it's fair to surmise he could land on a staff somewhere shortly.
As for the Vikings, the search, as O'Connell stated, has begun to find a defensive coordinator who can shape up a unit that lagged too far behind its offense in the 2022 campaign.