Donatell lands in Atlanta

Ed Donatell, fired by the Green Bay Packers on Friday, was named defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons today. Donatell will be a part of Jim Mora's staff, joining Greg Knapp, who was named the team's offensive coordinator on Jan. 9.<p>

The Falcons had hoped to hire Tennessee Titans linebackers coach Gunther Cunningham, but he took that job with the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Falcons quickly moved to sign Donatell, according to ESPN.

Donatell inherits a Falcons defense that was the worst in the league last year. Atlanta was ranked 29th against the rush and 32nd against the pass in 2003.

Under Donatell, the Packers defense was known for an aggressive, attacking style, which produced more turnovers the last three seasons (116) than any other team in the league. The Packers defense also produced its best-ever two-year sack total with 95 in 2001-02. In 2002, the Packers defense led the NFL with 45 takeaways, the most for a Packers defense since 1981 (54 takeaways). This past season, the Packers ranked 11th in scoring defense and 10th in rushing defense.

But the Packers ranked 17th overall in defense this season, after ranking 12th the previous two seasons. After losing leads during the regular season to Kansas City and Philadelphia, then watching the Eagles convert a first down after facing fourth-and-26 late in an NFC Divisional playoff game Jan. 11, Packers coach and general manager Mike Sherman fired Donatell.

Donatell began his NFL coaching career with the New York Jets in 1990 as defensive backs coach. He joined the Broncos coaching staff in the same position in 1995, where he also coached with Gibbs in helping the Denver Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl wins in 1997-98. Prior to his appointment with the Jets, Donatell was an assistant on the collegiate level for 11 years.

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