I can hear the clock ticking in the background as I contemplate whether this might just be the last coaching candidate I get a chance to write about before the Vikings hire a head coach. Multipule reports are surfacing that the interview portion of the Vikings’ coaching search is mostly complete, so I’m beginning to believe that the Vikings might hire someone this week.
Mike Zimmer impressed GM Rick Spielman so much on his first interview that it’s been reported that the Vikings want to talk to him again, soon.
It is no secret Vikings’ owner Zygi Wilf is a long time fan of the New York Giants. Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune goes as far as to say that Zygi loves the Giants. When former Giants’ two time Super Bowl Champion and Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells recommended Mike Zimmer as a head coach, Zygi was obviously listening.
Zimmer started his coaching career in 1979 as a defensive assistant for Missouri, but it was the Dallas Cowboys that brought Zimmer to the NFL as a defensive backs coach in 1994. In 2000, Cowboys head coach Dave Campo promoted Zimmer to the defensive coordinator position which he held until 2006. Zimmer served one year as defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons in 2007 and is currently the defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals. In 2009, Zimmer guided the Bengals to the 4th ranked defense in the NFL earning him Assistant Coach of the Year honors. Over the past six seasons with the Bengals, Zimmer consistently had his team ranked in the top 10 in most defensive categories.
The Vikings 31st ranked defense can certainly use some of Zimmer’s 34 years of coaching expertise. Zimmer is a coach that will have no problem getting the most out of the Vikings defensive personnel because he has experience coaching both the 4-3 and the 3-4 schemes in his 20 year NFL career. His sustained success and his ability to spot talented players make him one of the top defensive coordinators in the league. Zimmer is a coach that likes to maximize the strengths of his players by rotating them in and out in certain situations.
Even though Zimmer has an in-your-face fierce competitive nature, his players seem to respect him and enjoy playing for him. His fiery attitude on the football field could represent a major cultural change from the soft-spoken approach of Leslie Frazier. And that may not be a bad thing.
The key to Zimmer’s success as a head coach might depend on his choice as offensive coordinator. Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan who is also a former Vikings offensive coordinator is a possible candidate as well as Mike Mularkey who coached on the same staff in Atlanta with Zimmer and Bill Musgrave in 2007.
I will admit I’ve been a little slow to jump on the Zimmer band wagon… but maybe it’s time for me to climb on board and find a seat.