Packers Firing Opens the Door for You Know Who

Mike Zimmer Might
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Former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike 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 in December with NFL Network‘s Tom Pelissero, it sure sounds like Zimmer could be back in the saddle soon, perhaps as a defensive coordinator.

Packers Firing Opens the Door for You Know Who

Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers dismissed defensive coordinator Joe Barry on Wednesday after months, if not years, of Packers fans calling for his termination.

Pelissero tweeted Wednesday, “A change in Green Bay: Joe Barry will not return as the Packers’ defensive coordinator, per sources.” The Packers ranked 27th per defensive DVOA in 2023, so a change was evidently necessary.

Packers Firing
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Insert Zimmer — well, that’s the theory, anyway.

“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 December 26th in a rare interview.

Packers Week Hits
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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 NFL’s ninth-best record under Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell through two seasons.

Zimmer also said around Christmas, “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.”

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It was unclear at the time of the Pelissero interview if an NFL team would spring for Zimmer as a head coach in upcoming months. Ultimately, they did not. Zimmer will 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. He’d be an instant and marvelous fit in Green Bay, rest assured.

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 could also land as the defensive coordinator for a team like the Washington Commanders, Carolina Panthers, or Los Angeles Chargers, for example.

Suddenly a Busy Man, Mike Zimmer Has Another New Gig
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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. And the Packers may be at the top of the list.

Sticking it to the Vikings, an organization that fired him two years ago, Zimmer to Green Bay unfortunately adds up. Zimmer could slide into Wisconsin with NFC North familiarity and get a chance to battle the Vikings twice annually. What’s more, Packers fans are already chattering about Zimmer as Barry’s successor.

Packers fan Joe Knegendorf tweeted Wednesday after the news of Barry’s exodus, “Joe Barry gone. Who is the Packers next DC? I’d love to get Mike Zimmer.”


Vikings Add New CB

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.