The Chicago Bears have a big void to fill at the defensive coordinator position. Vic Fangio held that role between 2015 and 2018 before he was hired by the Denver Broncos as their head coach this week. Rumors have been minimal for the Bears in regards to that position, but some news on the job popped up late on Thursday night. According to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, Chicago interviewed defensive backs coach Ed Donatell for the job on Thursday. Biggs previously reported in the week that Donatell’s contract with the organization expired after the conclusion of the season.
If the Bears want to stick with a familiar voice, Donatell makes sense. He followed Fangio to Chicago in 2015 from the San Francisco 49ers and has spent the last four years with the Bears.
Donatell began his coaching career at Kent State in 1979 as a graduate assistant. He then went on to hold the same position at Washington between 1981 and 1982. He was then hired as the defensive backs coach at Pacific in 1983. After holding down that position for three years, he took the same position at Idaho between 1986 and 1988. Donatell then coached defensive backs at Cal State Fullerton in 1989 before getting his first NFL job.
Donatell was the secondary coach of the New York Jets between 1990 and 1994 before holding the same position with the Denver Broncos between 1995 and 1999. During that stretch, he won two Super Bowls with the Broncos. His big break came in 2000 when he was named the defensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers. His unit finished 14th in points allowed and 15th in yards allowed that season. A year later, Donatell’s defense showed major signs of improvement. The unit finished the year fifth in points allowed and 12th in yards allowed. Green Bay’s defense finished in the middle of the pack in 2002, 12th in both points allowed and in yards allowed. In his final season with the Packers, Donatell’s defense finished 11th in points allowed and 17th in yards allowed.
Donatell then served as the defensive coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons between 2004 and 2006 under Jim Mora. After one year as a special assistant of the Jets in 2007, he served as the defensive coordinator of the Washington Huskies under Tyrone Willingham in 2008. He returned to the NFL in 2010 as the secondary coach of the Broncos before teaming up with Fangio in San Francisco between 2011 and 2014.
Over the course of the last few seasons in Chicago, Donatell has helped oversee the development of cornerback Kyle Fuller and free safety Eddie Jackson. Both players were named to the All-Pro team and were Pro Bowlers. Cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Bryce Callahan, as well as strong safety Adrian Amos, also showed signs of improvement playing under Donatell the last two seasons.
Donatell makes the most sense if the Bears want to go with someone with complete familiarity with the defense.