The Zimmer File: What are the Vikings getting?

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Who is Mike Zimmer and what will he bring to Minnesota as the newest head coach in franchise history? The Vikings reportedly hired Zimmer Tuesday morning.

Zimmer, 57, has made a bevy of stops during his 20-year coaching career in NFL.

  • 1994-99: Cowboys defensive backs coach
  • 2000-06: Cowboys defensive coordinator
  • 2007: Falcons defensive coordinator
  • 2008-13: Bengals defensive coordinator

In 2009, life hit Zimmer hard with the death of his wife, Vikki. She died of natural causes. He found solace in the NFL, and he coached the Cincinnati defense just days after her death.

Sports Illustrated's Doug Farrar notes how Zimmer has been a master at turning mediocre defenses into upper-echelon defenses.

Zimmer had been the Bengals’ defensive coordinator since 2008. In the year before, Cincinnati’s defense ranked 17th in Football Outsiders’ opponent-adjusted metrics; they’ve never finished lower than 17th since and ranked fifth in 2013. He did a similar turnaround with the Dallas Cowboys defense from 2000 through ’06 after spending 1994 through ’99 as the team’s defensive backs coach.

Last August, Hall of Fame head coach Bill Parcells, who helped groom Zimmer in Dallas, put him in the same class as Bill Belichick – the best coach in the NFL, according to most.

“You want my prototype? It’s the Belichicks and Zimmers. They grew up with it, they get it. He got it at a young age," Parcells told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Mike is a little high-strung, a little bit like me, but I don’t know what they are waiting for with this guy because he has leadership qualities and he can coach.”

According to the Star Tribune, Zimmer's daughter Corri explained how excited she was for her father via a Facebook post.

“I’m overwhelmed with emotion. Over the last 6 years I have grown such a love for the Bengals organization. Since then the Bengals have actually become a team that is taken seriously and i have watched my dad turned their Defensive into something great. With that being said I have also watched my dad be passed up for head coaching jobs year after year after year when he clearly deserved it. I am in tears as I am finally able to say that he is getting what he worked his BUTT off for all these years. It’s about time … and I am still in shock as I’m saying this … but my dad is officially the HEAD COACH of the Minnesota Vikings!!!!!!!!”

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis says Zimmer is a man that knows how to deal with different personalities.

“Zim does a great job of identifying who to push and when,” Lewis said, via “He helps me by being the guy who puts his foot up their butt, getting them moving in the right direction so I don’t have to be the one to do it all the time.”

Former NFL players turned ESPN analysts Mark Brunell and Antonio Pierce gave their thoughts on what Zimmer brings to the Vikings.


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