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5 Things to Know About New Vikings Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell


EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings have added a big piece to Head Coach Kevin O'Connell's staff.

Minnesota announced Thursday that Ed Donatell is now the Vikings defensive coordinator.

The 65-year-old Donatell has 31 years of NFL experience on his résumé.

Here are five things to know about the Minnesota's new defensive coordinator:

1. He's got two Super Bowl rings

Donatell brings a wealth of knowledge to Minnesota, as well as a pair of Super Bowl rings.

While Donatell has worked for multiple NFL teams in his career, he was Denver's secondary coach from 1995-99 and helped the Broncos win a pair of championships in that span.

Donatell held his title when Denver won Super Bowl XXXII, which was a 31-24 win over Green Bay. He had the same job a year later when the Broncos repeated with a 34-19 win over Atlanta in Super Bowl XXXIII.

View photos of new Vikings Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell in photos from his time with the Broncos.

2. Most recently was with the Broncos

While Donatell experienced the top of the NFL mountain with Denver, he also arrives in Minnesota having just spent the past three seasons with the Broncos.

Donatell was Denver's defensive coordinator from 2019-21 when Vic Fangio was the head coach, and Donatell helped that unit find plenty of success.

The Broncos ranked third in points allowed per game (18.9) in 2021, and they were eighth overall in yards allowed per game (326.1).

Denver's defense also ranked third in red-zone scoring percentage (50 percent), fifth in first downs allowed per game (18.4) and were eighth in goal-to-go percentage at 63.64.

3. This is Donatell's 4th NFL DC job

Donatell's arrival in Minnesota marks his fourth defensive coordinator job in the NFL.

His first time in that role was with the Packers from 2000-03, as Green Bay's defense finished in the top half of the league in points and yards allowed per game in his first three years on the job.

Donatell then spent three seasons as the DC in Atlanta from 2004-06 but wasn't in an NFL coordinator role again until he joined the Broncos in 2019. He will now be a DC for a fourth time – and for a third different NFC team.

Donatell has also served in various coaching roles with the Jets, 49ers and Bears in his career. His first NFL job was in New York from 1990-94 as the defensive backs coach.

He spent 2011-14 as San Francisco's defensive backs coach. Vikings General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah joined the 49ers in 2013 as the Manager of Football Research and Development, spending two total seasons in the same building with Donatell.

4. Plenty of college experience

Donatell's early coaching career was spent in the college ranks.

He was a graduate assistant at Kent State from 1979–80 before holding the same title at Washington from 1981-82.

Donatell then became the defensive backs coach at Pacific University from 1983–85, and he was the DBs coach at Idaho (1986–88) and Cal State Fullerton (1989).

Donatell graduated from Glenville State College in 1979. He was a four-year letter winner and co-captain of the 1978 football team.

Donatell was inducted into Glenville State's Hall of Fame in 2005.

5. He has scheme adaptability

The Vikings have primarily utilized a 4-3 defensive scheme in the team's history, most notably under former head coach Mike Zimmer.

And while Donatell used a 3-4 scheme in Denver over the past three seasons, he has scheme adaptability based on his 10-year track record as a defensive coordinator.

Donatell's defenses ran a 4-3 system in his four seasons as the DC in Green Bay, plus his three years in Atlanta as the DC.

One of the main questions for Donatell early on will be what scheme he will use here, and how will the Vikings defense change depending on what system is installed.

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