Do the Vikings Need a New Defensive Coordinator in 2023?

Donatell Prediction
Sep 30, 2022; Thundridge, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Ed Donatell during practice at Hanbury Manor. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings are a good team. They sit at 10-3 through 14 weeks this season. They’re going to win the NFC North and will wind up being one of the top seeds in the playoffs. They also might need a new defensive coordinator.

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There’s no denying that Mike Zimmer’s 2021 Minnesota Vikings defense was terrible. Despite what his coaches may have had to say at the time, that was a near-.500 team that had zero ability to control opposing offenses. The only difference for Kevin O’Connell’s squad is that they are well above .500.

Coming into their matchup this weekend against the Detroit Lions, only their opponent was allowing more yards per game. At 398.7 yards per game, Donatell’s unit edged out the Lions, avoiding last in the NFL by less than four yards per game. Although the pass rush can be formidable at times with edge rushers Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith posing problems for opposing offenses, nothing else about the unit as a whole has been good.

The defense has had more holes than stinky Swiss cheese, and it’s not helped by their injuries. Cam Dantzler spent time on the injured list, and fourth-round pick Akayleb Evans is now shut down with a concussion.

However, the veteran leadership from Patrick Peterson and Chandon Sullivan hasn’t translated into any sort of stifled chances to the opposition. A lack of adjustments from the defensive coordinator has not helped.

Despite their strong record at 10-3, the Vikings have teetered with a negative point differential for most of the season. The drubbing by the Dallas Cowboys put them in a terrible position, but the reality is that their wins are a byproduct of the offense overcoming the defensive struggles.

Knowing that Minnesota will be facing substantial talent in the playoffs, it’s beyond concerning that the same man will be leading the defensive side into those matchups.

The Lions put up nearly 500 yards of offense Sunday against Minnesota, and if head coach Kevin O’Connell isn’t going to have him into his office for a tongue lashing this week, then there’s nothing that will ever be done. Donatell, his schemes, and this defense have held the overall feel of this team back all year long and it burned them against a formidable offense in Week 14.

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.