Former Vikings HC Wants Back In

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If you’ve missed Mike Zimmer on NFL sidelines, there’s a decent chance your longing will be cured in 2024.

Former Vikings HC Wants Back In

Zimmer hasn’t worked in the NFL since Week 18 of 2021, but he still has the motivation to coach in the pros. And based on his interview this week with NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, it sure sounds like Zimmer could be back in the saddle soon, perhaps as a defensive coordinator.

“The biggest thing, Tom, is I love to teach. I love to coach. When I was a head coach, I was always trying to teach and get the players better. Also wanted to teach them about the game of football, not just about their position,” Zimmer told Pelissero on Tuesday in a rare interview.

HC Wants Back
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Zimmer head coached the Vikings from 2014 to 2021, tabulating the NFL’s 10th-best record on his watch. But the 2020 and 2021 seasons were mired by mediocrity, and after 2021, Minnesota’s ownership cleaned house by expelling general manager Rick Spielman and Zimmer. The franchise settled on Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as general manager and Kevin O’Connell as skipper.

Minnesota has the league’s eighth-best win percentage under Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell.

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Zimmer continued, “So many guys come in, and they just want to know about a defense on a particular play but not as much as how it helps other players around them be better. So, I think it’s just something that’s in your blood. My dad was a high school coach for a long, long time.”

It is unclear if an NFL team would spring for Zimmer as a head coach in the next couple of months. He’ll be 68 in June, and most organizations in the modern NFL prefer younger coaches. However, few doubt Zimmer’s ability to construct, motivate, and lead a defense, perhaps suggesting his return in that capacity.

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“I love being around the players. I love the challenge of trying to make an organization better and trying to get them where we need to go,” Zimmer concluded.

Approximately 6-12 teams will need new defensive coordinators in 2024 after the annual head coaching carousel and firing of existing DCs. With that many in demand, Zimmer feels like a no-brainer to get the call.

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From 2014 to 2021, Minnesota’s defense ranked fourth per EPA/Play — the Zimmer era. He specializes in the 4-3 scheme and could install it in a single offseason if hired during this coaching cycle. Depending on various head coaches’ status, Zimmer would land as the defensive coordinator for a team like the Washington Commanders, Carolina Panthers, or Los Angeles Chargers, for example.

Zimmer has told Pelissero he’s been studying analytics at his newly built office in Kentucky.

Here’s the interview:


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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