Mike Zimmer Pops up in Rumor Mill of Unlikely Team

Mike Zimmer
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Zimmer guided the Minnesota Vikings to the NFL’s 10th-best record from 2014 to 2021, whisking the franchise back to relevance after a rocky 2010-2013 stint.

But the Vikings brass moved on from Zimmer about 13 months ago after Minnesota missed the postseason in back-to-back seasons from 2020 to 2021. Kevin O’Connell took over, and the Vikings won the NFC North for the first time since 2017, when Zimmer orchestrated his best season.

Mike Zimmer Pops up in Rumor Mill of Unlikely Team

Now, though, Zimmer could return to the big leagues in 2023 if the Arizona Cardinals rumor mill is accurate.

Mike Zimmer Pops up
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PHNX‘s Howard Balzer tweeted Tuesday, “Hearing Nick Rallis and Mike Zimmer could have spots on Jonathan Gannon’s defensive staff. Rallis will be 30 in July. Five years as assistant with Vikings, last two as LB coach. He might be DC or assistant head coach/LBs with Zimmer possibly DC or senior defensive assistant.”

The Eagles lost both primary coordinators this week, as offensive bossman Shane Steichen landed the big job with the Indianapolis Colts, and defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon took over the Cardinals. Yes, that’s the same Gannon who worked on Zimmer’s staff from 2014 to 2017.

Former Vikings Coach Likens Mike Zimmer to the Devil
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Accordingly, the Eagles will need two replacement coaches at extremely vital posts. Gannon will also need to fill out his coaching staff in Arizona.

On Zimmer’s watch in Minnesota, the Vikings ranked fourth in the NFL per defensive EPA/Play, meaning Zimmer has the resume for the gig. His Vikings defense was utterly dominant from 2016 to 2018 and only tailed off in 2020 and 2021 when seasoned, productive veterans like Xavier Rhodes, Everson Griffen, Trae Waynes, and Linval Joseph left the squad in free agency. Injuries to Danielle Hunter in 2020 and 2021 didn’t help either.

Suddenly a Busy Man, Mike Zimmer Has Another New Gig
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The Cardinals ranked 20th in the NFL per defensive EPA/Play in 2022, down from their fifth-in-the-league ranking in 2021. In theory, one year with Zimmer could plop Arizona somewhere between the two marks.

Last year, Zimmer spent the season as an analyst for the Jackson State Tigers, linked at the hip with then-head-coach Deion Sanders, as the two have roots back to the 1990s with the Dallas Cowboys. And about three weeks ago, Zimmer was set to join Sanders once again amid the ex-cornerback’s next coaching adventure with the University of Colorado. Sanders said on January 26th while appearing on Thee Pregame Show, “Taggart’s coming too, by the way. Coach Zimmer’s coming, too, by the way. So another two head coaches — one in the NFL as well as collegiate.”

It is unclear if Zimmer’s addition to Buffaloes was ever made official or if he’d bolt to the NFL if offered a job. But per Balzer, Zimmer is included in a Cardinals shortlist at the very least.

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,’ and The Doors (the band).

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