Extensive Search: Mike Zimmer

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.

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Carl Knowles

Carl Knowles (Contributor) is a former member of the Professional Bowler Association and an avid lifelong Vikings fan. When he is not bowling you can find him on websites and forum pages sharing his creative insight and enthusiasm for the Minnesota Vikings any chance he gets. Carl was a Phoenix Institute of Technology and Purdue University standout who currently enjoys the challenge of being a graphic director in the printing business. You can follow him on twitter @carlknowles_vt.

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  1. Offensive Coordinator? Consider that of the four remaining teams in the playoffs, the Vikings ranked in the middle of them offensively this year (yards/game). Of course, with a 30th ranking in defense, that wasn’t enough to be significant in the playoff hunt. Yes, we need to upgrade QB somehow, but the fact of the matter is that in most of our games, the offense was there. Notice the scores these past two weeks? Aside from the 45-44 Chiefs-Colts circus, the losing teams were held to an average of 17 points per game, and these are among the better offensive teams in the league. DEFENSE is our main problem, hands down. And the winning teams are again honing in on the running game as being crucial to winning. I’m still not convinced that Musgrave needs to be run out of town.

    1. We get it bud, you think everything was our defenses fault and our Ponder/Cassel/Freeman rotation works so we don’t need to think about offense at all or getting a quarterback of the future.

  2. I see no benefit to keeping Bust-grave. We need more dynamic schemes and the ability to adjust intra-game..

    1. But that’s my point, CS. The so-called lack of dynamic schemes and in-game adjustments somehow landed us in the thick of play-off offenses, and did so without a QB even close to the eight who played this weekend. I would suggest that Musgrave’s offense looks more dynamic than Bevell’s scheme in Seattle, and I don’t see us any less imaginative than the 49ers, Panthers, Eagles, etc. But those teams did all have much better QB play than us, and that does a lot for scheme. I offer two questions:
      1. Was our offense as bad as the fans seem to be declaring?
      2. How much of Musgrave’s lack of scheme is really lack of QB?
      “Cleaning house” needs to be a rational and fact-based decision. I didn’t always agree with Musgrave either, but I think he did a much better job than he is generally given credit for. I would be fine with Zimmer, and I would be fine with him keeping Musgrave as OC.

  3. whether we like Musgrave or not, coach, the new HC will undoubtedly pick his own guy anyway….after the usual staff interviews…….if Frazier hadn’t stuck with Ponder so long, Musgrave probably could’ve opened it all up quite a bit more with Cassell earlier in the season……

    1. If Zimmer does end up being the guy, I’ll trust his judgement on Musgrave seeing that he put together a defensive scheme that completely shut down our offense this year. If he see’s something on film in Musgraves offense that he likes and thinks is workable, than I would be fine with keeping some continuity on what really was our strongest unit this year, but if he thought our offense was a joke with or without a passer, moving on would be just fine by me as well. I would like to see George Stewart, our WR coach, retained to give our young wideouts a familiar face.

  4. what I tired of watching most was AD up the middle on 1st and 2nd and on 3rd and 6, a 4 yd pass….that SUCKED…..and on 3rd or 4th and 1, why ALWAYS the tight formation up the middle run with a underwhelming OL vs a spread out formation and let AD run out of that…….I’m not a football guy, just a physics major, so when we faced 7,8,or 9 in the box against our tight formation , 14 three hundred pound men coming together didn’t leave much room for AD or any runner…..last point, coach….something’s wrong with the offensive scheme when the best RB in the NFL gets tackled behind the line of scrimmage as much as AD did…..HCs have to work with what ya got, and if our OL was weak, you can’t game plan as if we had 5 all pros up front…..I’m on record saying no one will ever beat that single season rushing record, but with a good HC and OC, AD would be the one guy who could still do it!

    1. I agree about running AD out of more spread type formations instead of cramming everyone inside. If we had an oline like the 49ers it would work, but we don’t have a physically imposing oline. That is one reason why I would be okay with Linehan, he likes lots of 3 wide sets which might open things up a bit for AD.

  5. Just don’t start Ponder. And go back to the throw back uniforms. The current ones are better than the Chili era, but still, the throw backs with the dark purple helmet are the best in NFL. The Vikings are only playing like 3 games in a dome next year. They need to adjust their offense. I’m with Krugjr on running Peterson into the mass. There’s no energy in that mass, they need to spread it out and open it up somehow.. Throwing money at Toby would be smart, and playing him more. He impacts the game more than Allen did, and look what they paid him. The reasons trading Harvin and aquiring Patterson was such a genius move for Spielman was of course Harvins attitude, and he will not last. Being so little and taking everyone on like that. Patterson is just as good, or better really, bigger, plays tough as hell and his specialty is avoiding the contact at the last second. He’s our future and best player. Next is Peterson and then Toby. and Rudolph. HC needs a real QB and defensive overhaul. If that Zimmer, let’s do it. Just no Ponder, please.. And

  6. Just read that Mike Zimmer is back in town today for a 2nd interview. Seems to me that they would not fly him back unless they were close to an agreement.

  7. If you look at some other Bengal forums and websites, pretty much 100% of the fans are deeply bummed that they may lose Zimmer. The more I read about the guy, the more I like him. Seems certain that he will drastically improve our Defense.

  8. Freds is in shock! What are you idiots talking about? Freds used to think you morons had some sense about matters of football. Not any more!!

    Zimmer is a terrible selection to be a football coach. The guy is WAY too old and too fat. No doubt he was a wonderful athlete back in his day, and in his time he was a good coach, but now? Are you kidding? Zimmer? Zimmer?

    1. Easy on the Colt 45s there Freds! That picture was before he went and had gastro-intestinal bypass like Rex. He never developed a fetish for feet though.

  9. I saw that Bowles with drew his name from the Browns vacancy. Could Zimmer possibly be asking him to be his DC? That would be sweet! Too much to ask?

    1. Bowles already has a job, the Cards aren’t going to let him make a lateral move like that. Far more likely Horton would be the choice since the Browns are pretty much letting the world know he’s available.

      1. …and Horton is probably a candidate for Whisenhunt’s DC job with Titans since they already worked together in those roles.

  10. hey, Coach, I know there’s only so much cap space, but wouldn’t it be nice to “control the line of scrimmage”? that’s where GMs come into play…good ones, that is….who can build the winning roster with x amount of dollars…then talent, injuries, and LUCK kick in, all the way to the SB……maybe our first world championship will be in our own stadium!

    1. Yeah, the big guys up front are where it all starts, Krug, I’m with ya there. Contrary to what Skol thinks I think, though, we do need ourselves a QB, one who is far more fast than fat.

      1. Jamarcus Russell is available if you are looking for a fast and fat QB. You ought to see that dude run through the buffet! Record Times!!!

  11. I think 40 yrs old would be just right for our new HC…..old enough to know what’s going on and young enough to relate to today’s players…’s that for deep analysis?

  12. Maybe the Vikes are waiting for Sports Center to announce the hiring. Just a thought.

  13. I hope no to Norv.
    What’s the deal on Zimmer? Ricky being Ricky…don’t over think this Rick!

  14. no team wants to be the “second announcement” of the day….Rick wants his moment in the spotlight, so I figured wednesday all along…..

    1. I hope so Krug. But I get the feeling there is a disagreement on how much power Zimmer will have on the roster.
      Rick wants control.

  15. With no announcement at this point, I am starting to wonder if Bowles will be coming to Minneapolis tomorrow for a second interview. If it was going to be Zimmer its odd it didn’t happen today.

  16. with only two HC jobs left there’s less competition or need to jump now. it could be smoke, but cleveland might want to talk to gase, so no hurry if that’s the case, and i guess bowles apparently had a good first interview. a good sign that the bengals fans sure seem to like zimmer

  17. it’s good, Mr. From Oahu… my house built yet? you know, just a little something oceanfront over on the west side, close to the grandkids!!!!! best to you, my friend….I would’ve said happy near year but it has too deang many letters!

  18. hope returns to the twin cities…..i hear his first request was to bring back kluwe and the pink uniforms…..

    GO VIKES!!!!!

    1. Agree Fozz, no Norm. That dude did less with great talent than any coach I can remember.

  19. Norv has been one of the best offensive minds in football for a long long time. I can understand why people would like to see someone a little younger, but we could do a lot worse than Norv Turner. Having a guy like him around would also help Zimmer spend more time on the defensive side of the ball. Sounds like the Bengals moved quick to lock Guenther up as their new coordinator, so he’s out for that job on our staff.

  20. I’ve always liked Norv Turner. Not a Head Coach but as an OC, he’s exceptional. I worry about his pass-oriented ways but with AD in the mix, I’m sure he’ll be more run oriented than with past teams.
    This hire would sure go a long way to letting Zimmer spend more time on our defense, which we need desperately.

    1. The other thing I like about Norv is that he isn’t likely to leave after a year if the team has instant success. It would be pretty shocking if he got another head coaching opportunity, so you’re probably going to get a guy who will give you stability for several years. If Zimmer brings in a young coach and he works out well, he’ll end up getting a HC job elsewhere a year or two from now. With Norv the only place he’s going is retirement, so as long as he’s committed to coaching you shouldn’t need to worry about a new offensive coordinator every off-season.

    2. Norv Turner has coached rushing champs during his career. So he knows this importance of the running game unlike muskrat.

  21. delete this post if ya have to, but if ya don’t like a coach like this, then you’re a pussy

    1. Cals,

      Dude sound like a bigot to me. Freds thinks he is against defensive football players. Kluwe will be writing a Deadspin article on him in no time!!

      1. One thing is for certain, Josh freeman is most likely out of here.
        Zimmer would scare the hell out of him.

  22. The best thing about this hire in my mind is something Julgad has already touched on over at Espn1500. Spielman did not just go out and hire a “yes man” that is going to let him off the hook if he doesn’t agree with a decision he makes. To me that is a pretty big sign that Spielman is devoted to winning here and not just saving his own job. I view Zimmer being interested in Turner in that same way. You have a defensive minded first time head coach instantly targeting one of the most well respected seasoned offensive coaches in the entire NFL to run the offense. Whether Turner gets the job or not, I think that is a great sign that these guys are serious about putting together a team that can win. I don’t know whether it will work or not, but I can actually see some direction in the approach they are taking and that’s great to see.

    1. I’m with you; I was pumped when I heard they had hired Zimmer. I’ll be absolutely ecstatic if they bring Turner in too.
      (I’ll be looking for a championship in a year or two if they manage to find a QB.)

      1. Same here Dan. R.I.P the Tampa 2 scheme that is outdated as Kiper’s hair. By the way he has Bridewater going to the Vikes at #8.

        1. Kiper’s a kook…no way that happens. I’m not sold on Teddy anyways…
          Agree about the Tampa 2.
          A championship Fran? Back on the pipe? Maybe if we get Johnny Football! No way that happens…

          1. Hey! Cut with the negative vibes CC!
            And a big fat NO to Johnny Football. Dude’s a kook, a tiny, little itty-bitty Kook.

        2. Don’t let the Tampa 2 R.I.P. burn it and stomp on it. The Tampa 2 is awful and should not be remembered well

  23. By the way, I find it REAL curious that has nothing on the Zimmer hire.

    1. I was just ready to post the same thing Fran. I wonder if they are just waiting for the final contract details to be ironed out or something.

        1. My guess is they are sorting through the assistants: who stays, who doesn’t… then informing all of the current staff of their status with the organization before going to the media. It’s annoying and practically worthless in today’s age of insiders and social media, but it probably is the right thing to do.

          1. HI Adam, good you see you around! Hope life has been treating you good.What is your take on the Zimmer hire?

    2. I’m sure it’s just fine print crap. Cincy has already hired a new DC…it’s a done deal.

  24. anyone know about Oregon’s QB? next year’s #1 pick and the next Luck? maybe we should stockpile picks (not hinting at trading AD) and move to #1 next year and grab him……just filling in space here til I get home and check on coordinator rumors…..

    1. He’s more likely to pull al Leinart/Barkley. Jameis Winston(the rapist) Will likely go first overall. I can also see Mariota falling if Oregon’s offense slows. I see Manziel and Winston as the only 2 superstar quarterbacks coming out in the next 2 drafts.

      1. Manziel? Really? I just can’t seem to get on the guys’ bandwagon. If he’s 6′ tall, I’d be surprised.
        I know, I know, Brees, Tarkenton, etc. . . But Manziel seems tiny. Way smaller than Brees.
        I just can’t help but think if he tries running around in the NFL like he did in college, he won’t last long.
        Plus, he seems to be sort of a head case. I’d rather concentrate on defense in the first round and try to pick up a sleeper QB in the 2nd or 3rd rounds.

        1. I have 0 concern about him being a “Headcase” he is 19, won a Heisman and spent the summer partying… Sounds like EVERY SINGLE 19 year old I’ve ever known. As for height he’s not a traditional pocket passing qb so I’m not worried about height.

          Only thing that concerns me about Manziel is his playing style. Mobile quarterbacks get hit more; Manziel has proven toughness but a serious injury is a concern but it would be with most modern day quarterbacks.

          Manziel just has the “it” factor.

          1. IDK if he has the “It” factor or not. All I know is his style of play will probably get him killed.
            With players like Wilson, Kaapernick, RG111 out there scrambling all over the place, most defenses are learning how to deal with it. Put Manziel out there, with his size and it doesn’t bode well for him.

            1. That’s kind of funny, Fran…coming from you. Lasted for 18 years, only one serious injury. And in those days those hits were legal!

            2. He’s bigger than Wilson who hasn’t gotten killed. Plus he’s a much better pocket passer than either Wilson or Kap were coming out(Heck better than they still are imo).
              I’m not denying that his play style is dangerous but he’s tough and smart plus slower and smaller Wilson is still alive.

              1. IDK how much bigger he is than Manziel, height-wise but I’ll guarantee you Wilson is the bigger guy by far. MUCH stouter. Plus, Wilson has shoulders.
                I have seen no evidence of his pocket passing abilty, he always seems to leave it at the first sign of pressure.

                1. Russell Wilson: 5’11” 203lbs at the combine
                  Johnny Manziel is listed at 6’1″(likely just under 6′) and 210lbs.

                  As for pocket presence look at 2012 vs 2013. Most of his scrambling was last year he has changed a LOT which very few people have noticed(understandably so)because it’s his phenomenal scrambling plays espn loves to show twelve thousands times not his pocket presence.

                  1. Well, all I’ll say is that if we do end up with him, I sure hope you’re right Skol.

      1. Unless Zimmer goes off on him, like in the video above….Ricky might just pee his pants.

  25. Time the hell out!!

    Dear Freds old Pal Frans…..

    Did Freds just read YOU calling out Johnny Mandizzle as a 20 year old as a ” head case” ? Come on man! Do you remember when you were that age? That’s right Frans, you don’t! That’s because you’re still hung over from Woodstock! Weren’t you dating a porn queen at that time in your life? And if Freds has his facts straight (and he always does), you did a little time in the hooskow, right?

    By the way people, Freds isn’t bashing Frans, this is all fact. Just ask him!

    Freds returns you to your regularly scheduled programming.

    1. I think Fran has a hard enough time remembering what he has for lunch not to mention when he was 20 😛

    2. I will say this in my defense;
      I never got caught signing autographs for money while still a college student.
      Unlike Mr. Johnny Football!