Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ed Donatell - UW Difference Makers

When UCLA's Dewayne Walker decided to stay on with UCLA after being passed up for the head coaching position many Husky fans were disappointed. Walker is a good coach with excellent recruiting ties in Southern California. Those recruiting ties made him even more valuable to a Northwest school.

I personally always thought of Walker as more of a flavor of the month type of guy, so when he passed on Washington I wasn't too upset. Its no knock on Walker, but it wasn't like he was the only guy in the country who could coach a defense.

When the Huskies hired Donatell I really got excited. What Ed brings to the program is a lot of experience from the NFL, plus the type of bloodlines we like since he started his career at Washington under Don James, spent time with Keith Gilbertson at Idaho, and was the DC for the Atlanta Falcons under Jim Mora Jr..

Ed has spent 12 of the last 13 seasons as an assistant coach and defensive coordinator in the National Football League and has coached 12 players who have earned Pro Bowl recognition. Last season he was a special assistant with the New York Jets. He served as defensive coordinator from 2004-06 for the Atlanta Falcons.

Prior to his time in Atlanta, he served four seasons as Green Bay's defensive coordinator under Mike Sherman. During his stint in Green Bay, Donatell's defense led the NFL with 144 takeaways, an average of 36 a year and led the league with 2.25 forced turnovers per game.

Even though his defense hasn't played a down yet he has fans and players excited. Practices this spring indicated that he was capable of providing the most maligned defense in Husky history with a complete 180 degree turnaround. Part of that turn around will come from being in the right place, at the right time. Kent Baer never had the tools at his disposal that Donatell will have this season in the defensive backfield. To be fair to Baer he had around six guys each season he could count on over the past three years. Donatell on the other hand will have plenty of depth, talent, and experience back there in 2008.

Washington has a proud defensive tradition that goes back to the days of Jim Owens. Win or lose when you play the Huskies you were going to hurt the next week. In fact teams often lost the next week after Washington softened them up. For some reason that began to fade under Neuheisel, and under Willingham it became non existent.

Husky fans love an attacking defense, and Donatell promises to return that attacking tradition to the football field in 2008. You aren't going to recognize these guys this season. No more lining up ten yards off the line of scrimmage. This defense is going to take its chances and start playing aggressively to win rather than passively not to lose.

Ed Donatell is going to be the biggest Husky difference maker in 2008 if he can turn around a defense that ranked 94th nationally last year in scoring defense (giving up 31+ points per game), 99th in pass defense (261+ yards per game and 27 touchdowns) and pass efficiency defense, and 102nd in total defense.


Rob M said...

Loving this "Difference Makers" profile series.

Everything I'm reading about Brandon Johnson these days is that he's not 100%, a little undersized, etc. It got to the point where Molly Yanity wrote an article addressing the concerns Husky fans are having. Chris Polk, on the other hand, has gained 20 lbs since he hit camp, is at least as fast as a healthy BJ, and reportedly much more elusive. How is Johnson still the projected starter?

John Berkowitz said...

When camp opened Johnson was the predicted starter, and it made sense.

One and a half weeks into camp it is becoming very apparent that Chris Polk will be the starter and Brandon is in danger of sitting out the Oregon game if he can't get the knee back in shape.

That doesn't mean you write off Brandon Johnson. He still has a lot of good time ahead of him.