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Ed Donatell named Broncos Defensive Coordinator

Posted at 10:48 PM, Jan 15, 2019

The Broncos have their man on defense, a face from the first Super Bowl runs in Denver.

Ed Donatell has been hired as the team’s new defensive coordinator, continuing a relationship with head coach Vic Fangio for the last eight years. Donatell served as the defensive backs coach in Chicago for the last four seasons and four more before that in San Francisco.

“Ed’s been an integral part of top-10 defenses for six of the last eight seasons in two different places, and he’s a great fit to be our defensive coordinator,” Fangio said. “Having worked very closely with him for a number of years, Ed has a strong understanding of the entire defense from the front end to the back end with the defensive backs being his specialty. He’s a very good teacher and believes in the fundamentals in the classroom and on the field. We’re thrilled to add Ed to our coaching staff and welcome him back to the Broncos.”

Donatell was the defensive backs coach in Denver from 1995-99 when they won their first two Super Bowls in 1997 and 1998.

More information can be found in a full press release from the team:
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Donatell, who has coached defensive backs for Fangio during the last eight years with Chicago (2015-18) and San Francisco (2011-14), is in his third stint with the Broncos. He coached the team’s secondary from 1995-99 and again from 2009-10.

Donatell has 40 years of coaching experience, including 28 seasons in the NFL. He has been a defensive coordinator for eight years with Green Bay (2000-03), Atlanta (2004-06) and the University of Washington (2008).

As a defensive backs coach, Donatell’s secondary has helped his teams to a top-seven ranking against the pass in each of the past seven seasons (217.4 ypg avg.) while leading the NFL in interceptions twice (2014, ’18) during that span. Chicago’s 75 big passing plays (20+yards) allowed during the last two seasons were the fewest in the NFL.

The Bears’ secondary in 2018 helped the defense ranked among the NFL’s best in numerous categories, including scoring defense (17.7 ppg – 1st), total defense (299.7 ypg – 3rd), pass defense (219.7 – 7th), yards per play (4.8 – 1st), opponent quarterback rating (72.9 – 1st), interceptions (27 – 1st) and third-down defense (34.2 – 4th). The NFC North champions featured a pair of first-team Associated Press All-Pro selections on the back end in cornerback Kyle Fuller and safety Eddie Jackson.

As defensive backs coach for San Francisco from 2011-14, Donatell helped the 49ers rank sixth against the pass (218.2 ypg) while tying for the second-most interceptions (78) in the NFL. The 49ers’ Pro Bowl defensive backs—cornerback Carlos Rogers (2011) as well as safeties Dashon Goldson (2011-12), Donte Whitner (2012), Eric Reid (2013) and Antpoine Bethea (2014)—were instrumental in limited opponents to the second-worst quarterback rating (76.8) during that four-year span.

Before joining the 49ers, Donatell spent two seasons (2009-10) with the Broncos, coaching a secondary that included cornerbackChamp Bailey and safety Brian Dawkins. In 2009, Denver finished third in the NFL against the pass (186.3 ypg) as Bailey and Dawkins both represented the Broncos in the Pro Bowl.

Before working as the University of Washington’s defensive coordinator in 2008 and as a special assistant for the New York Jets in 2007, Donatell was the Falcons’ defensive coordinator from 2004-06. Atlanta’s defense was one of the NFL’s best in sacks and third-down percentage during that three-year period and featured four players who earned a total of six Pro Bowl selections.

Donatell spent four seasons as Green Bay’s defensive coordinator from 2000-03, helping the Packers record an NFL-best 116 takeaways from 2001-03. Green Bay advanced to the playoffs during each of those three seasons, including the 2001 and ‘02 campaigns when the club won the NFC North title.

Donatell was part of Denver’s back-to-back Super Bowl championships during the 1997 (XXXII) and ‘98 (XXXIII) seasons while serving a five-year stint as its defensive backs coach from 1995-99. The Broncos were seventh in the league in both passing yards per game (199.6) and passing yards per attempt (6.5) allowed en route to earning three playoff berths during Donatell’s time on staff.

Ring of Fame safety Steve Atwater was named to the Pro Bowl three times (1995-96, ‘98) under Donatell, and safety Tyrone Braxtonwas named to the Pro Bowl once (1996) with Donatell as his position coach. The Broncos ranked among the league’s top 10 clubs against the pass in four of Donatell’s five seasons as defensive backs coach, including during three consecutive years from 1995-97.

Donatell worked as the Jets’ defensive backs coach from 1990-94, instructing Pro Football Hall of Fame safety Ronnie Lott during his final two professional seasons.

Before beginning his NFL coaching career, Donatell coached defensive backs for seven seasons at the collegiate level for Cal State Fullerton (1989), the University of Idaho (1986-88) and the University of the Pacific (1983-85). He completed two-year stints as a graduate assistant at Washington (1981-82) and Kent State University (1979-80).

An all-conference defensive back, team captain and four-year letterwinner at Glenville State (W.Va.) University, Donatell received a bachelor’s degree in physical education at the school in 1979 before earning a master’s degree in administration from Kent State in 1981.

Donatell, who is a native of Stow, Ohio, attended Stow High School and was born on Feb. 4, 1957, in Akron, Ohio.