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For those of you who love Ed Donatell

Discussion in 'Packer Fan Forum' started by TOPackerFan, Nov 11, 2005.

  1. TOPackerFan

    TOPackerFan Cheesehead

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    Donatell gained favor by 'working the system'
    Posted: Nov. 10, 2005

    Cliff Christl

    Green Bay - Nothing much has changed with Ed Donatell since he was fired by the Green Bay Packers almost two years ago. He remains the "Coordinator of Mediocrity."

    His Atlanta defense is ranked 18th in the National Football League this week. During his four years as coordinator of the Packers, his defenses finished 15th, 12th, 12th and 17th.

    Yet for someone with such a consistently mediocre track record, Donatell has received an awful lot of favorable press.

    Why is that?

    The answer probably is two-fold.

    One, Donatell always greeted reporters in Green Bay warmly, found time to answer their questions and often did so with charm and enthusiasm. He never said much of anything. Just about every quote of his that was printed over four years was a waste of space. But reporters who cared only about filling their notebooks and nothing about substance walked away from him with a smile.

    During his four years with the Packers, Ed Donatell's defenses finished 15th, 12th, 12th and 17th.

    Two reporters in Atlanta said earlier this week that nothing had changed. They said that Donatell was personable as ever, but that almost all his quotes were still bland and filled with clichés.

    There also was evidence to suggest that Donatell wasn’t above going off the record with a favored reporter and revealing information about his players. It’s a tactic some coaches use to curry favor with the media. It’s called "working the system."

    We shouldn’t allow it to happen, but it does.

    Let’s set the record straight here. It’s rather common for reporters to seek off-the-record background from coaches. There’s nothing wrong with it. But most honorable reporters wouldn’t grant off-the-record privileges to someone who never says anything worthwhile on the record.

    At some point after Donatell was fired one of Packer Insider's fan bloggers perceptively questioned why the media wasn’t more aggressive in its coverage of Donatell’s situation during his final season in Green Bay. The implication was that he had been treated with kid gloves.

    Well, there’s your answer. And don’t be surprised to find some in our profession still singing Donatell’s praises this week as he prepares to face the Packers and Mike Sherman, the man who fired him, for the first time.

    No question, the Falcons’ defense has improved since Jim Mora, a defensive-minded head coach, arrived in 2004 and hired Donatell as his coordinator. In 2003, the Falcons finished 5-11 and ranked 32nd or last in defense. They were 29th against the run, 32nd against the pass; abysmal in all phases of the game.

    Last year, the Falcons improved to 11-5, reached the NFC Championship and finished 14th in defense, a vast improvement, although still a middle-of-the-pack finish. To Mora’s credit, he switched from a 3-4 to a 4-3, which better suited his personnel. And Mora and Donatell, both in their 40s, brought some youthful exuberance that wasn’t there under former head coach Dan Reeves, who was 59 at the time, and his interim successor and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who was 56.

    But Mora and Donatell did it with more talent than meets the eye.

    Before last season, the Falcons signed defensive tackle Rod Coleman as a free agent. Coleman might be the best inside pass rusher in the game. He ranked second in the NFL in sacks among interior linemen last year with 11. At essentially the halfway point of this season, he ranks first with seven.

    The Falcons also used their first and the eighth overall pick in the 2004 draft to select cornerback DeAngelo Hall. He missed the first six games of last season with a hip injury, but quickly established himself as one of the best young corners in the game.

    Mora and Donatell also inherited two veteran standouts in linebacker Keith Brooking and defensive end Patrick Kerney. Brooking, the 12th player taken in the 1998 draft, played in three straight Pro Bowls from 2001 through 2003. Kerney, a first-round pick in 1999, registered double-digit sack totals in both 2001 and 2002. So despite their last-place ranking in defense two years ago, the Falcons were anything but bankrupt of talent.

    The defense also benefited last year from having a healthy Michael Vick, who started all but one game. In 2003, Vick started only four games.

    How important is Vick?

    Since he was chosen with the first pick in the 2001 draft, the Falcons are 29-13-1 in games that he started. That figures to a .686 winning percentage. In games that Vick didn’t start, the Falcons were 9-20, including a loss to New England this season. That’s a .310 winning percentage.

    This year, the Falcons appear to have taken a step back defensively.

    Just two weeks ago, they ranked 25th in the league. But their last two games were against the New York Jets, who have the 30th-ranked offense, and Miami, which has the 22nd offense. As a result, the Falcons have climbed seven spots without patching some of the more obvious shortcomings.

    They signed former Baltimore linebacker Edgerton Hartwell during the off-season to fill a gap at middle linebacker, but he was slow to adjust to a 4-3 after playing a 3-4 with the Ravens and then ruptured his Achilles’ tendon a month ago and was lost for the season. Also, the Falcons’ secondary is suspect everywhere but at Hall’s left cornerback position.

    Much like in Green Bay, Donatell’s safeties are terrible tacklers.

    Third-year veteran Bryan Scott whiffs with the best of them and 28-year old Keion Carpenter no longer can get himself in position to break down and tackle.

    Never fear, though, help is coming to the rescue.

    A week ago, the Falcons signed former Packers safety Antuan Edwards, who will never be mistaken for John Lynch. Softer than butter, Edwards’ mere presence in the lineup in Green Bay all but guaranteed that Donatell would never field anything other than a mediocre defense.

    Donatell played small college football at Glenville State in West Virginia and coached the secondary at the University of Pacific, Idaho and Cal State-Fullerton before he landed his first pro coaching job with the New York Jets in 1990.

    He spent five years coaching the defensive backs with the Jets and five with the Denver Broncos. In both jobs, Donatell worked with and under Greg Robinson.

    Robinson is in his first season as head football coach at Syracuse University. His record is 1-7. In the previous 22 seasons, Syracuse finished with a losing record only three times.

    In Robinson’s final four seasons as a defensive coordinator in the NFL, from 2000 through 2003, his units ranked 24th, 23rd, 32nd and 29th.

    But the personable Robinson also received more than his share of good press. That’s what "working the system" will earn you, and Donatell learned the lesson well.

    After all, he has never had a defense rank in the top 10, but he has been widely praised in the media and he also has avoided, for the most part, being the target of much criticism.
     
  2. daredevil25

    daredevil25 Cheesehead

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    No complaints from me about him. He was granted with a talented front 7, but that article doesn't state that Atlanta has 4 rookies on defense getting plenty of snaps (3 have started), three are second year players, both nickel backs have been loss for the season and the top reserve is a UDFA (oddly enough from the Packers) and the team does not have a real Mike on the roster. Not excuses, but the fact the defense is above 24th is a suprise to me.
     
  3. IPBprez

    IPBprez Cheesehead

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    Will Sherman and Rossley be smart enough to attack the lackluster Safeties they have?
     
  4. digsthepack

    digsthepack Cheesehead

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    Geez, IPBprez...what do you think??!?. MS/TR have never exploited a known weakness of an opponent. They just do what they do with no regard for injured players or obvious deficincies of the opponent's defense.

    Hell, in the 4th and 26 game, the Philly DB...Shelton Brown, I believe, was playing on one leg and they NEVER went after him. Just do what they do!
     
  5. P@ck66

    P@ck66 Banned Banned

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    2 words net..TO..and Depack...

    Bob Slowick...

    (and it was Harlan who went after and got Bates..NOT Sherman..you can bet on it! Sherman fought for Slowick, for you revisionists out there..)

    Sherman just doesn't have the sense to....he's demonstrated that over and over......and over.....
     
  6. musccy

    musccy Cheesehead

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    Pack66...

    Where did you hear/read that it was Harlan who was responsible for Bates? My understanding is that the HC is the one responsible for hiring/bringing in assistants, and although I never heard who was responsible for Bates, I assumed it was MS since he's HC.
     
  7. IPBprez

    IPBprez Cheesehead

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    Hey yea.... I remember that Shelton nonsense.....
    I was just basicallly muttering to myself.... one can hope, ya think?
    In the Eagles 2003 debacle - I was, and still am, more focused on the Pass play called (and admitted to) by Rossley - to me, that's where it was lost... not the 4th & 26.... but, hey - that's just me.... but, what do I know... basically "not a lot"....
     
  8. Chamuko

    Chamuko Cheesehead

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    Shermy needs both hands to find his own butt, Rossley need his both hands and one leg to find his own butt... So forget about it exploiting someonelse´´s weakness is not a correct thing to do for a nice guy.
     

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