The Ed Donatell Denver return escalated quickly. The Broncos are naming the Bears’ defensive backs coach as their next defensive coordinator, Mike Klis of 9News reports (on Twitter).
Long rumored to be a candidate to follow Vic Fangio to Denver, Donatell will succeed Joe Woods as the Broncos’ DC. Donatell has twice been a secondary coach with the Broncos, doing so first for five seasons under Mike Shanahan from 1995-99.
Donatell, 61, interviewed for the job on Tuesday and will now be Fangio’s right-hand man running Denver’s defense. Although Fangio will call the Broncos’ defensive plays, Donatell has extensive NFL experience. He is now a four-time DC, last serving in the role for the 2008 Redskins. Donatell left the Broncos in 2000 to become the Packers’ DC, and after a four-year stay in Green Bay, he led three Falcon defenses in the mid-2000s.
He returned to Denver to coach the 2010 Broncos’ secondary, but after Josh McDaniels‘ tenure abruptly ended, Donatell began his eight-year run working with Fangio. Serving under Fangio for four years with the 49ers, Donatell spent the past four seasons in Chicago overseeing the Bears’ secondary — one that featured 2018 Pro Bowlers Kyle Fuller and Eddie Jackson. The Bears led the NFL in pass-defense DVOA by a wide margin. The Bears wanted Donatell to stay as their DBs coach and work under new DC Chuck Pagano but will now have to replace another key defensive staffer.
The Broncos have regressed from their form under Wade Phillips. They featured what was probably the NFL’s best cornerback trio from 2014-17, with Aqib Talib and Bradley Roby joining Chris Harris. With Talib since traded and Roby a free agent who may well depart Colorado, Harris stands alone. Given his experience leading secondaries, Donatell figures to play a key role in attempting to revitalize the Broncos’ coverage work.
Donatell was the only known candidate to have interviewed for this job.