It’s Time for Ed Donatell to Be Done

All season long, the Minnesota Vikings have won despite a defense that ranked in the doldrums of the NFL. Had it not been for the Detroit Lions slipping late, the Vikings would’ve finished dead last in yards allowed per game. Thirteen wins saved Ed Donatell’s demise to this point, but that’s where change has to come.

When the Vikings knocked off the New York Giants at home on Christmas Eve, it took a 61-yard field goal at the buzzer to make it happen. As they have most of the year, Minnesota’s defense faltered in that contest and allowed Daniel Jones and the Giants offense to post more than 400 yards on the day. Looking to right that wrong needed to be a focus for Ed Donatell this time around, but he failed that test.

It’s Time for Ed Donatell to Be Done

Giving up 31 points, the Minnesota defense allowed 431 total yards on Sunday. Jones threw for 301 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Scrambling just a few times during their first meeting, it still seemed necessary to limit the running ability of Jones. Donatell apparently wasn’t interested in that and did nothing to plan against it. Instead, Jones rushed 17 times to lead New York with 78 yards on the ground. Saquon Barkley also got his, punching in a pair of touchdowns and averaging 5.9 yards per carry.

It’s Time for Ed Donatell
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Ed Donatell. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

When looking for stops to get off the field, none were found. Minnesota allowed the Giants to convert third downs over 50% of the time, surrendering 7-of-13. Both times New York went for it on 4th down, they also found success. 

In the red zone is where Minnesota has been able to tighten things up this season. Guarding a shorter field, they have been able to hide deficiencies. Despite that being a strength for New York, they struggled during the previous matchup. Converting 75% of the time in the red zone on Sunday, there was little resistance from Minnesota.

When masking their issues, Donatell’s group has primarily lived off of turnovers. Last time out, Patrick Peterson saved an otherwise mediocre day by picking Jones off late to set up the game-winning field goal. Nothing happened by wrestling the ball away this time, and the Vikings saw little benefit from their three sacks on the day.

Blueprint to Beat the
Sep 30, 2022; Thundridge, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Ed Donatell. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

It would be unfair to suggest that Donatell was given a juggernaut to work with on the defensive side. He had a leaky secondary all season long — and an aging unit. The Vikings sought help through the draft but lost key picks to injury, and most of the development was through unexpected performers.

Still, as the season wore on, Donatell failed to make necessary changes that could have hidden some of Minnesota’s issues. The Vikings were burned in many of the same ways regardless of the week, and adjustments were clearly not a strong suit. Having the ability to make a change without in-season disruption is now afforded to Kevin O’Connell, and he has to jump at the opportunity.

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Kevin O’Connell

You never like to see a coach lose their job, and Donatell has been doing this for a long time, but it would be near negligence to allow him a runback with Minnesota eight months from now. O’Connell has things to work on, but pairing with a better defensive coordinator is a must.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.