With Vic Fangio’s promotion officially official, the Chicago Bears are now in search of a new defensive coordinator. An ideal candidate is someone who can be the de facto head coach for a defense featuring three first-team All-Pros, four Pro Bowl starters, four other Pro Bowl alternates, and nine projected returning starters under contract for 2019. Following Fangio isn’t an easy task, but someone has to do it.
With that in mind, we’re going to take a look at candidates who are (and could be) on the Bears’ radar leading up to the announcement of a new defensive coordinator.
Name, Current Team, Position
Ed Donatell, Free Agent (Most recently: Chicago Bears), Defensive Backs Coach
- Chicago Bears (Defensive backs, 2015-present)
- San Francisco 49ers (Defensive backs, 2011-14)
- Denver Broncos (Secondary, 1995-99, 2010)
- University of Washington (Graduate assistant, 1981-82; Defensive coordinator, 2008)
- New York Jets (Secondary, 1990-94; Special assistant, 2007)
- Atlanta Falcons (Defensive coordinator, 2004-06)
- Green Bay Packers (Defensive coordinator, 2000-03)
- Cal State Fullerton (Defensive backs (1989)
- Idaho (Defensive backs, 1986-88)
- Pacific (Defensive backs, 1983-85)
- Kent State (Graduate assistant, 1979-80)
- Vic Fangio (2011-18)
- John Fox (2015-17)
- Jim Harbaugh (2011-14)
- Mike Nolan (2009)
- Eric Mangini (2007)
- Jim Mora (2004-06)
- Mike Sherman (2000-03)
- Mike Shanahan (1995-99)
- Pete Carroll (1990-93)
Hey, It Might Work…
Donatell has been with this defense since its infancy back in 2015 when John Fox was in charge and Vic Fangio was his chief lieutenant on defense. A promotion from DBs Coach would allow the Bears to maintain continuity within the scheme and its verbiage, which is invaluable to players who’ve been here to build this thing to what it is today. On top of that, Donatell is an experienced game-caller with stints as a coordinator in Green Bay and Atlanta. Experience helps! The idea of promoting an experienced game-caller who also knows what works with this defense is quite attractive.
OK, Maybe He’s Not The One…
Donatell hasn’t called a defense since 2006 and the game has changed a lot since then. I would have serious (but I think fair) questions regarding how he plans to carry out the defense. Even then, it might be a moot point. Donatell figures to be a hot commodity. His contract reportedly expired at the end of the football season, which means he could be one of the most coveted free agents on the coaching market. After seeing the growth of Kyle Fuller, Adrian Amos, Eddie Jackson, Bryce Callahan, and others, teams should be clamoring to add Donatell to their coaching staff. Donatell has been attached at the hip with Fangio since the two were together in San Francisco, had previous stints in Denver, and was a coach on Super Bowl winning teams led by John Elway. There’s a distinct possibility Donatell follows Fangio west and gets a promotion out of it.
In The End …
Retaining Donatell would allow the Bears to keep the good feelings carry over from previous years while not having the fact that he already has a Halas Hall key card be the overriding reason for keeping him. Donatell would be the most ideal in-house hire. He knows the system, players, assistants, ins and outs, and everything in between. In addition to all that, he has play-calling experience – even if it’s been a while since he has had those duties. As a free agent, Donatell can choose his next adventure. It could be in Denver, where he could get a promotion to DC without the play-calling responsibilities. Or Chicago, where he would get a true promotion. It could even be elsewhere.
There is a blank page to be written in Donatell’s coaching story, but only knows what’s going to be written when pen meets paper.