Vikings fire defensive coordinator Donatell after rough year

A man stands and speaks with his hands
Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Ed Donatell speaks to the media before his team takes part in joint drills with the San Francisco 49ers at the Vikings NFL football team's practice facility in Eagan, Minn., Aug. 17.
Bruce Kluckhohn | AP

The Minnesota Vikings fired defensive coordinator Ed Donatell on Thursday, an unsurprising decision on the veteran coach after a dismal finish by his defense.

The Vikings ranked second worst in yards allowed in the NFL and fourth worst in points allowed during the regular season. They gave up 431 yards and 31 points to the New York Giants in their wild-card round loss last week.

Coach Kevin O'Connell was hired a year ago by the Vikings and made Donatell his first defensive coordinator, the fourth different NFL team for which he has filled that role. The 65-year-old Donatell has coached 32 seasons in the league.

“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 a statement distributed by 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.”

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