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Vikings will have to decide whether to stick with 3-4 or revert to 4-3

Mike Florio and Charean Williams discuss the Vikings firing defensive coordinator Ed Donatell and how Minnesota will adjust its defensive scheme next season.

When Kevin O’Connell became Minnesota’s new coach last year, he explained that the defense would pivot from decades of a base defense with a four-man front to a 3-4 look. With defensive coordinator Ed Donatell now gone, the question becomes whether the Vikings will stick with the 3-4 or revert to a 4-3?

The candidates who are interviewed for the job will shed considerable light on the matter. Maybe O’Connell will consider coaches who are schooled in either approach.

The decision will drive personnel moves in the offseason. The Vikings were in the process of acquiring the right players for Donatell’s defense, most notably adding inside linebacker Jordan Hicks and saying farewell to outside linebacker Anthony Barr.

In hiring Donatell, O’Connell was hoping for Vic Fangio’s defense. O’Connell could (and perhaps should) try to hire Fangio, if the goal was (and still is) to simulate Fangio’s defense.

Whatever O’Connell does, the defense must improve in 2023. If it had been just a little bit better in 2023, the Vikings wouldn’t have been in so many close games.

The offense is good enough to take the team to where it wants to go. The defense held it back in 2022. Absent real improvement, next year could be yet another season of hoping that “just good enough” is good enough for the fans.