Vikings Hire New Defensive Coordinator, Ousting Beloved Coach

Andre Patterson

Courtesy of Vikings Andre Patterson departs for a job as the New York Giants defensive line coach after the Vikings hire Ed Donatell as defensive coordiantor.

The Minnesota Vikings‘ plan to hire Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Ed Donatell as the team’s new top defensive mind has ousted one of the most beloved coaches in the organization.

Less than an hour before Star Tribune reporter Ben Goessling reported that the Vikings plan to hire Donatell as their next defensive coordinator, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that “Vikings assistant coach and co-defensive coordinator Andre Patterson is being hired as the defensive line coach for the New York Giants, per source.”

Goessling provided more context, saying “Patterson had hoped to stay in Minnesota, but the Vikings are heading in a different direction. So he joins the Giants after also having interest from the Seahawks.”

The latest Vikings news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Vikings newsletter here!

Join Heavy on Vikings!

Patterson Behind Premier Vikings Pass-Rushers

Patterson, 61, has 18 years of experience as an NFL defensive line coach and another 21 yards in high school and college football as a head coach, defensive coordinator and assistant coach.

He helped the Vikings develop mid-round prospects like Everson Griffen (fourth round, 2012) and Danielle Hunter (third round, 2015) and Linval Joseph. He leaves behind a bevy of ultra-athletic defensive linemen prospects in D.J. Wonnum (third round, 2020), Kenny Willekes (seventh round, 2020), Janarius Robinson (fourth round, 2021), Patrick Jones II (third round, 2021) and Jaylen Twyman (seventh round, 2021).

Die-hard Vikings fan? Follow the Heavy on Vikings Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content from Skol Nation!

Patterson often demonstrated leadership in the Vikings’ coaching ranks as a counterbalance to Zimmer’s tough love philosophy.

“I’m more of the motherly type. I’m going to put my arm around you and teach you just like I did when I was a teacher,” Patterson told the Star Tribune in 2018. So I always use the analogy of if I was a math teacher and you were having problems with something, I wouldn’t stand by you and hit you in the back of the head and cuss you out. I’d pull up a chair and sit down and show you how to figure out the problem. That’s my philosophy as a coach.”

Hunter posted a goodbye photo with Patterson and him on Twitter after the announcement he would depart for New York.

Enter Donatell

Donatell, 65, has 42 years of coaching experience, including 31 seasons in the NFL and 10 seasons as defensive coordinator.

A disciple of Vic Fangio for the past decade, Donatell worked under Fangio as a defensive backs coach from 2011 to 2018 in two separate four-year stints with the San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears. He followed Fangio to Denver in 2019, when Fangio became head coach and named Donatell as his defensive coordinator.

The duo made the Broncos defense one of the league’s most formidable units in three years.

In 2020, Denver’s defense ranked 25th in points and 21st in yards allowed. The 2021 season could have spelled disaster for the Broncos, who lost Von Miller in a trade to the Los Angeles Rams and had an offense that struggled to stay on the field.

Instead, Denver’s defense flourished, finishing eighth in yards allowed (5,544) and third in points allowed (322).

This will be his fourth stint as defensive coordinator, previously holding the position with the Green Bay Packers (2000-2003) and Atlanta Falcons (2004-2006) on top of his two-year run as Broncos DC.

Read More