Today’s the Day for Mike Zimmer
It’s all or nothin’ for Mike Zimmer on February 6th.
The 67-year-old tossed his hat in the ring for the Dallas Cowboys’ open defensive coordinator job, a gig that became vacant last week when Dan Quinn took a promotion as head coach with the Washington Commanders.
Today’s the Day for Mike Zimmer
And according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Zimmer will speak with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and head coach Mike McCarthy on Tuesday. Pelissero posted on X, “The Cowboys are interviewing former Vikings coach Mike Zimmer today for their defensive coordinator job, per source.”
Dallas has thought of itself as a Super Bowl contender for the last few years, so the stakes will be heightened when a new defensive coordinator is hired. Dallas is firmly in win-now mode, and Zimmer’s defensive resume is impressive. In 2023, Dallas’ defense ranked fourth leaguewide per EPA/Play, meaning the act will be tough to follow. But the personnel is there: Players like Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs are dream incumbent starters for a new coordinator to inherit.
The Cowboys employed Zimmer in varying coaching capacities for 13 seasons (1994-2006), suggesting he knows Jerry Jones quite well and vice versa. Zimmer to Dallas would really make sense. The only possible hurdle is the scheme. Quinn directed a 3-4 defense, and the Cowboys’ defense is built as such. Zimmer is a 4-3 mastermind.
Zimmer head coached the Vikings from 2014 to 2021, recording 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 dismissing general manager Rick Spielman and Zimmer. The franchise settled on Kwesi Adofo-Mensah as general manager and Kevin O’Connell as skipper and has the league’s ninth-best record since Zimmer’s departure (20-14, .588).
From 2014 to 2021, Minnesota’s defense ranked fourth per EPA/Play — the Zimmer era. His track record is mostly pristine, especially when the personnel is top-notch. Minnesota’s defense tumbled, though, in 2020 and 2021, mainly because of injuries to Danielle Hunter and the mass exodus of talent, including players like Linval Joseph, Xavier Rhodes, and Everson Griffen, among others.
In a rare interview six weeks ago, Zimmer told NFL Network’s Pelissero, “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.”
“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 added.
Zimmer served as a consultant to Deion Sanders at Jackson State in 2022 before Sanders took over the Colorado Buffaloes in 2023.
Zimmer’s predecessor in Minnesota, Leslie Frazier, joined the Seattle Seahawks staff as an assistant head coach last week.
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).