Thursday, Jan. 19
Vikings Fire Defensive Coordinator
The Vikings fired defensive coordinator Ed Donatell after one season in Minnesota, the team announced.
“Today I informed Ed Donatell we will be going in a different direction at defensive coordinator in 2023,” coach Kevin O’Connell wrote. “While this was a difficult decision because of the tremendous respect I have for Ed as a person and a coach, I believe it is the right move for the future of our football team.”
Donatell has coached in the NFL since 1990, including defensive coordinator stints with the Packers (2000-03), the Falcons (2004-2006) and the Broncos (2019-21).
The numbers were not pretty for the Vikings’ defense in 2022. It was 31st in yards allowed per game (388.7) and passing yards allowed per game (265.6), in addition to allowing 25.1 points per game, which was third worst in the league.
Despite winning 13 games, the Vikings finished the regular season with a minus-3 points differential. The defense seemed to get worse as the season went along, allowing 26 or more points in seven of the final nine games, and 31 in Sunday’s wild-card loss to the Giants.
Dolphins Fire Defensive Coordinator
The Dolphins fired defensive coordinator Josh Boyer after his fourth season, the team announced.
“I am grateful for Josh’s contributions this year and throughout his tenure with the Dolphins,” coach Mike McDaniel wrote in a statement. “The defense made strides through the season, so coming to this decision was not easy, but ultimately I feel it is in the best long-term interests of the Miami Dolphins and the continued growth of our players and team.”
Miami also parted ways with outside linebackers coach Ty McKenzie and safeties coach Steve Gregory. This means that no coaches from the Brian Flores era remain on the Dolphins coaching staff.
Miami’s defense was the catalyst for the team’s seven-game win streak last season as it finished ninth in forced turnovers, which is likely why Boyer was retained by McDaniel when he was hired prior to the 2022 season.
However, Boyer’s predilection toward heavy blitzes and man coverage made them susceptible to big plays, and their turnover luck took a turn for the worse this season as they finished 22nd in takeaways. McDaniel will now move to rebuild the defensive staff as he sees fit.
Ravens Part Ways with Offensive Coordinator
The Ravens and offensive coordinator Greg Roman are parting ways, the team announced. Roman has been the offensive coordinator since 2019 when he helped turn Lamar Jackson into a unanimous league MVP.
“Greg has led the development and success of a record-setting offense in Baltimore for several seasons,” coach John Harbaugh said in a press conference. “He is a tremendous football coach, as well as family man and person. Greg devised and led our offense to no fewer than 26 historical NFL and franchise achievements. He established an identity for our offense. We are grateful for Greg’s great work and abilities, and we wish him and his wonderful family the utmost happiness going forward.”
The Ravens’ offense has stagnated in more recent years, even when Jackson was available and healthy. The Ravens finished first in points per game in 2019 but finished just 19th this season.
Roman’s departure will surely play a role in the Ravens’ negotiations with Jackson regarding his new contract.
Buccaneers Fire Offensive Coordinator, Revamp Coaching Staff
The Buccaneers fired offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich after his fourth season with the team along with a slew of other offensive coaches, the team announced. This comes just days after the Buccaneers were eliminated by the Cowboys in the Wild Card round.
“We appreciate the hard work and contributions that all of these coaches made to our successes over the past four seasons,” Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles wrote in a statement. “As a collective group, we did not meet the high standards that had been set for this past year and my focus now is on doing what is needed to ensure a successful 2023 season. These were very difficult decisions but something that I felt was necessary for our football team going forward.”
Specialists coach Chris Boniol, wide receivers coach Kevin Garver, assistant defensive line coach Lori Locust and running backs coach Todd McNair were fired. Quarterbacks coach Clyde Christensen, senior offensive assistant Rick Christophel and outside linebackers coach Bob Sanders have decided to retire.
Bowles is expected to build out his own offensive staff and one name to watch is current University of Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken, NFL Media reported. Monken previously served as the Buccaneers’ offensive coordinator from 2016 to 2018.
Leftwich, once a potential head coaching candidate, saw his offense take a major fall in efficiency this season. After helping the Buccaneers finish in the top five in scoring for three seasons, Tampa Bay finished 25th in points this season. That drop in points per game led to the team’s first losing record (8-9) and earliest playoff exit since acquiring quarterback Tom Brady prior to the 2020 season.
Patriots Interviewing Candidates for OC Position
Per NFL Media, the New England Patriots interviewed Bill O’Brien, the Alabama Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator, for their opening at offensive coordinator. O’Brien coached for the Patriots in a variety of roles from 2007 through 2011. He then served as the head coach for the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Houston Texans. After being fired from the Texans, O’Brien has been with Alabama for the previous two seasons, serving as their offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, helping develop the possible #1 overall pick, Bryce Young.
But O’Brien is not the only candidate being interviewed this week. Per Josina Anderson, the Patriots will also interview Minnesota Vikings wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell. After a successful career in the NFL, McCardell has been coaching wide receivers since 2010. He coached with the Washington Commanders from 2010-2011, the Maryland Terrapins from 2014-2015, the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2017-2020 and the Minnesota Vikings since 2021.