The day they took over: Leslie Frazier vs. Mike Zimmer


Much has been made of the Vikings focus on finding a defensive-minded coach during not only the 2014 version of their coaching search, but searches of the past as well.

When Leslie Frazier was hired, he came from a defensive background and has resumed that role as the new defensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Seemingly, this time around Minnesota was looking for more of a defense-first coach than ever, as their reported top two options were the man that will get the job, Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, and the man that allegedly came in second, Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles.

Zimmer, much like Frazier when he took over in 2011, has not been a head coach in the NFL before, and he is the sixth consecutive head coach Minnesota has hired that fits that bill.

Zimmer may be the polar opposite of Frazier in personality, but when it comes to situation, they are near mirror images of one another: Coaches that will be in their first seasons leading an NFL team that come from defensive backgrounds and previously served as defensive coordinator for Cincinnati.

We have seen how Leslie Frazier's tenure played out with Minnesota, a 21-32-1 record with a lone playoff appearance that ended poorly.

How will Zimmer fare? Perhaps taking a look at Frazier's resume when he took over and comparing it to Zimmer's as he prepares to assume command of the Vikings will give us an idea.

FRAZIER: Leslie served as the defensive coordinator for Minnesota from 2007-2009 before taking over as interim head coach midway through the 2010 season. Frazier took over a unit that in 2006 ranked eighth in the league in yards allowed and 14th in the league in points allowed.

2007 defensive rankings (finished 8-8): 20th in yards allowed, 12th in points allowed.

2008 defensive rankings (finished 10-6, lost in wild card round): Sixth in yards allowed, 13th in points allowed.

2009 defensive rankings (finished 12-4, lost in NFC title game): Sixth in yards allowed, 10th in points allowed.

Passing defense specifically was not a specialty of Frazier's, as the Purple didn't finish in the top half of the league in passing yards allowed with Frazier as defensive coordinator, but finished in the top two in rush defense each of the three years.

It should be noted that in Frazier's three full years as head coach of the team, two of those seasons Minnesota finished outside the top-30 in the league in points allowed, and didn't finish in the top-15 of the league in yards allowed.

ZIMMER: Mike served as the defensive coordinator of the Bengals from 2008-2013. He took over a squad that ranked 27th in the league in yards allowed and 24th in points allowed.

2008 defensive rankings (finished 4-11-1): 12th in yards allowed, 19th in points allowed

2009 defensive rankings (finished 10-6, lost in wild card round): Fourth in yards allowed, sixth in points allowed

2010 defensive rankings (finished 4-12): 15th in yards allowed, 24th in points allowed

2011 defensive rankings (finished 9-7, lost in wild card round): Seventh in yards allowed, ninth in points allowed

2012 defensive rankings (finished 10-6, lost in wild card round): Sixth in yards allowed, eighth in points allowed

2013 defensive rankings (finished 11-5, lost in wild card round): Third in yards allowed, fifth in points allowed

With a shaky offense led by Andy Dalton on the other side of the ball, Zimmer can say his defenses were the main reason for Cincinnati making the playoffs each of the past three seasons.

Zimmer has consistently improved a squad that was subpar when he took over, and his defensive rankings are consistent, leading the Bengals to a top-half finish in pass defense every year, while doing the same in the run game in five of his six years with Cincinnati.

The one major advantage Zimmer holds over Frazier is NFL experience in a high-ranking position, as Frazier had served as a defensive coordinator in the NFL for just six seasons before becoming a head coach, while Zimmer has been in the same position for 13 years with three different teams.

How do defensive coordinators turned head coaches do overall? Here's a look at the past 15 that have attempted the transition.

No way to know for sure if Zimmer is the answer, but his resume says he may be set up for success, perhaps better than Frazier was when he took over.

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