Ed Donatell appears to be in a spot to control his own destiny.
According to Mike Klis of 9News in Denver, Donatell is choosing between staying with the Bears or joining Vic Fangio with the Denver Broncos. Donatell reportedly interviewed for Chicago’s vacancy at the defensive coordinator position late last week before the Bears hired former Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano for the position. Donatell’s contract reportedly expired at the end of the season with the Bears, meaning he is a free agent.
It is interesting to note he is choosing between the Bears and the Broncos. Many assumed Donatell was a near-lock to join Fangio in Denver considering their long history together. When Fangio was serving as the defensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers between 2011 and 2014, Donatell was his defensive backs coach. When Fangio joined John Fox’s staff in Chicago in 2015, Donatell followed.
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. He 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.
The veteran coach helped oversee the development of All-Pro cornerback Kyle Fuller and All-Pro safety Eddie Jackson the last two seasons in Chicago. Both players made major jumps from 2017 to 2018 playing under Donatell. If the Bears are able to convince him to stay, that continuity would only serve to help Pagano in his first year with the team.
A potential reason why Donatell might not join Fangio in Denver is that Fangio is set to be the team’s play-caller on Sundays. Donatell could end up getting the defensive coordinator role in title with the Broncos, but he would not be the one making the calls on Sunday. In Chicago, Donatell could be in a position to continue to coach one of the best units in all of football.