Report: Seahawks hire ex-Broncos DC Ed Donatell, but not as team’s DC

Feb 4, 2022, 10:37 AM
Seahawks Ed Donatell, Pete Carroll...
Defensive coordinator Ed Donatell of the Denver Broncos and head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks greet one anther before an NFL preseason game at Lumen Field. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seahawks have reportedly made their first coaching hire of the offseason, hiring longtime defensive coordinator Ed Donatell. But he apparently won’t be taking up that same role in Seattle.

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According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Donatell, who has 11 years of NFL defensive coordinator experience since 2000, will be joining the Seahawks defensive coaching staff, but he’s not expected to fill the team’s defensive coordinator vacancy, but “more so a senior defensive role at this point.”

Donatell was the defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos the last three seasons under then-head coach Vic Fangio, but he was not retained by new head coach Nathaniel Hackett.

The Seahawks are in need of a new defensive coordinator after Ken Norton Jr. was let go after four seasons in that role in Seattle. Donatell was one of four reported candidates for the job and he was seen a favorite for the job because he has experience in a number of defensive systems and working for many different head coaches, but he also has history dating back to the early-1980s with Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll.

Donatell worked as defensive backs coach at Pacific, Carroll’s alma mater, in 1983 when Carroll was the program’s defensive coordinator. Donatell then worked as defensive backs coach for the New York Jets from 1990-1994, where Carroll was defensive coordinator for the first four seasons and then head coach in 1994.

Additionally, Donatell’s son, Tom, was a quality control coach in Seattle under Carroll from 2017-20 and is now the assistant secondary coach with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Jake Heaps of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy was able to talk to Fowler shortly after the report came out and shared a bit of what Fowler told him during the opening segment on Friday’s show.

“Right now, the details aren’t fully set in stone, but the one thing that was clear is that he is not going to be the the DC, the main DC,” Heaps said of his conversation with Fowler. “Now that still could come in the form of Ed Donatell being named passing game coordinator, he could be named like (Fowler) originally said in the tweet, a senior defensive analyst. I mean, it could be in that way. But one thing is very clear: no matter how that’s going to go down, the defensive coordinator job as a whole is still open.”

The Seahawks, in addition to needing a new defensive coordinator, need a defensive passing game coordinator as they fired Andre Curtis along with Norton. Curtis was in that role from 2018-21 and had been on Seattle’s coaching staff since 2015.

As far as Seattle’s defensive coordinator vacancy, Heaps thinks Seahawks defensive line coach/assistant head coach Clint Hurtt is the most likely to get that job. But even if that happens, Heaps believes the addition of Donatell to the coaching staff is a notable one.

“Having Ed Donattell on that staff along with Pete Carroll to bring more of that Vic Fangio-type of defense, that type of mindset and style to morph and change this defense and having somebody like Ed Donatell on the staff would be very important, because this is somebody that brings a lot of knowledge, brings a lot of experience (against) the pass with secondary play, and also with Vic Fangio’s defense and how he likes to play it,” he said. “And Ed Donatell and Clint Hurtt have worked together in the past when they were coaching together in Chicago. So this makes a lot of sense on a lot of levels here. And I believe that this is a good move for the Seattle Seahawks, the right move in terms of bringing Ed Donatell in.”

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