Sep 13, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell throws the ball before the game against the Dallas Cowboysat SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
This week has been full of coaching staff changes. It appears that Kevin O’Connell will be bringing in all of his guys. This is a full reboot for the Vikings coaching staff. Of the coaches being replaced, the most notable are Andre Patterson and Ryan Ficken.
Andre Patterson has been a cornerstone of the Vikings staff since 2014 when Mike Zimmer was hired. He is one of the most well-respected defensive line coaches in the league. Patterson has a habit of turning rotational talent-level players into great players. Additionally, many players love playing for him. Upon the news, Danielle Hunter posted this on Twitter:
Ryan Ficken had been a staff member for the Vikings since 2007. In 2021, he took over as Special Team Coordinator. Under his leadership, the special teams made the jump from 31st in 2020 to 13th in 2021. However, the Chargers poached Ficken to be their special teams coordinator for the 2022 season. Hopefully, the new coordinator will continue to make improvements.
New Defensive Coordinator
The Vikings made several announcements of new coaching hires. All of these hires stem from the recommendations made by Kevin O’Connell. Even though O’Connell’s hire will not be official until after the Super Bowl, the Vikings are getting his staff in place.
The biggest news is the hiring of Ed Donatell, a Vic Fangio disciple. Donatell was the defensive backs coach under Fangio for the 49ers and would later become Fangio’s assistant in Chicago from 2015 to 2019. He followed Fangio and served as defensive coordinator for the Broncos from 2019 to 2021. Between Fangio and Donatell, they were able to turn around both the Bears and the Broncos.
2015 Bears – 20th in total defense
2016 Bears – 24th in total defense
2017 Bears – 9th in total defense
2018 Bears – 1st in total defense
2019 Bears – 4th in total defense
2020 Broncos – 25th in total defense
2021 Broncos – 3rd in total defense
If history repeats itself, the Vikings will have a dominant defense again in the next year or two. However, there will need to be some roster improvements along the way. So fans must exercise patience.
However, were these defenses good because of Donatell? If Donatell did not play a significant role, this might lead the Vikings down a dark path. Although, just like all changes, we must wait to find out if this hire is good or not.
Other Coaching News
In other coaching news, the Vikings are expected to hire Curtis Modkins, Chris Kuper, and Deshea Townsend. Both Modkins and Kuper are coming to the Vikings from the Broncos coaching staff. Modkins will be the running backs coach and run game coordinator, and Kuper will be the offensive line coach. Townsend will be the new secondary coach after spending three years with the Bears in the same position.
Keenan McCardell appears to be the sole coach from the Mike Zimmer era to return. This comes as no surprise. Adam Thielen has been praising McCardell for his ability to coach and make him a better player.
There will be several more coaching hires over the next couple of weeks. However, signing Donatell was the most important hire under O’Connell so far.