Mike Zimmer Is a Finalist

Day for Mike
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He hasn’t coached in the NFL since 2021, but former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer could be on his way back.

All he has to do is win a competition among four total candidates, as of Monday morning, for the Dallas Cowboys’ vacant defensive coordinator job.

Mike Zimmer Is a Finalist

Last year’s defensive boss, Dan Quinn, bolted for the Cowboys’ rival last week, taking the head coaching job for the Washington Commanders. In the next week or so, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and skipper Mike McCarthy will name Quinn’s replacement, and if the interview goes well, it might be Zimmer.

Aligning for Mike
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DallasCowboys.com’s Nick Harris wrote Saturday, “The Dallas Cowboys are expected to interview a handful of candidates for the team’s vacant defensive coordinator position early next week, as the team looks to solidify a replacement for Dan Quinn after he took the head coaching job for the Washington Commanders.”

The Cowboys have considered themselves Super Bowl contenders for the last few seasons, so the stakes will be elevated when a new defensive coordinator is hired. Dallas is firmly in win-now mode.

Mike Zimmer Reemerges
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“In-house candidates are expected to include passing game coordinator/secondary coach Joe Whitt Jr. and defensive line coach Aden Durde. Outside candidates include Mike Zimmer and Ron Rivera, according to multiple reports,” Harris added about the search.

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.

Cowboys Get Boost before Showdown with Vikings
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Zimmer worked for the Cowboys in varying coaching capacities for a whopping 13 seasons (1994-2006), so he knows Jerry Jones quite well and vice versa. Zimmer to Dallas would make all the sense in the world. The only possible hiccup is the scheme. Quinn orchestrated a 3-4 defense, and the Cowboys’ defense is built as such. Zimmer is a 4-3 guru.

He 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 and has the league’s ninth-best record since Zimmer’s departure (20-14, .588).

Mike Zimmer Is
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From 2014 to 2021, Minnesota’s defense ranked fourth per EPA/Play — the Zimmer era. His track record is mostly ironclad, especially when the personnel is top-notch.

Zimmer will turn 68 in June. The Cowboys own the 24th pick in April’s draft, which is 11.5 weeks away.

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.