UPDATE: A source informs Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune that Ed Donatell is close to coming to a deal with the Broncos to become the team’s defensive coordinator. If it happens, it will be Donatell’s third stint as a defensive coach in Denver. Quirky.
The Chicago Bears have expressed an interest in retaining Defensive Backs Coach Ed Donatell, but the allure of a different job with a new title could be too much to pass up.
Broncos are interviewing Ed Donatell today for the defensive coordinator position per source. #9sports
— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) January 15, 2019
Mike Klis of 9Sports.com reports the Denver Broncos have been busy interviewing potential coordinators in each of the three phases, and Donatell as defensive coordinator is part of that process – as is Rich Scangarello (Offensive Coordinator) and Tom McMahon (Defensive Coordinator).
As I’m sure you’re aware, Donatell and Vic Fangio, the Bears 2018 Defensive Coordinator and the Broncos’ 2019 Head Coach, have worked together since 2011, while both guys were on Jim Harbaugh’s staff with the San Francisco 49ers (which sure makes Donatell’s departure to Denver feel inevitable). Indeed, Donatell was said to be choosing between the Bears and Broncos, as recently as this past weekend, though it hasn’t quite happened yet.
On the flip side, the Bears have expressed a willingness to bring Donatell back for a fifth year coaching members of the team’s secondary, and considering how well things have gone well in the first few years (and the desire for some continuity after watching Fangio exit), that’s not much of a surprise. After all, under his coaching, Safety Eddie Jackson and cornerback Kyle Fuller developed into Pro Bowl, first-team All-Pro, and All-NFL honored players, Adrian Amos has grown from a fifth-round pick into a steady and reliable starter, and Prince Amukamara has arguably played his best ball since arriving to Chicago. Based on the development of key players, it’s safe to suggest losing Donatell would be a bit of a blow to what’s been a team strength the last two seasons. But we need to be prepared for it, like we were with Fangio.
If Donatell leaves, the Bears will be in the market to hire a new batch of secondary coaches. The team is not expected to retain Assistant DBs Coach Roy Anderson, despite two seasons of experience with the team and a history with new Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano that spans a stint coaching Colts safeties from 2012-15 and a stop as an assistant with the Ravens from 2005-11. I suppose the Bears could be in the market to bring in a future Hall of Famer to lend a helping hand, but we’re not quite there just yet, either. And for what it’s worth, the Bears are already on the look out for a new set of linebackers coaches.
In any case, it’s growing more evident there will be significant turnover on Chicago’s coaching staff among the assistants on the defensive side of the ball. We’ll keep our eyes peeled to see what changes Pagano makes to a group that coached up the league’s top scoring defense.
Michael Cerami contributed to this post.