Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
NFL: Reports: Vikings hire Mike Zimmer as head coach
First Published Jan 15 2014 11:00 am • Last Updated Jan 15 2014 11:15 pm

Eden Prairie, Minn. • The Minnesota Vikings have chosen Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer as their new head coach, according to multiple media reports.

Zimmer will replace Leslie Frazier, who was fired after the team finished 5-10-1 this season. Zimmer will be the ninth head coach in the franchise’s 54-year history, according to reports that emerged Wednesday.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

General manager Rick Spielman interviewed at least seven candidates for the job including Zimmer, who spent Tuesday at Vikings headquarters. Zimmer has been an NFL defensive coordinator for the last 14 seasons, six with the Bengals. He has 20 years as an NFL assistant on his resume.

Zimmer also interviewed for the vacancy in Tennessee, which went to Ken Whisenhunt. He has been a candidate for the top job several times in the past, too, including with Cleveland, Miami and Tampa Bay.

The Bengals were third in the league in yards allowed and fifth in points against this season. After the team lost in the first round of the playoffs for the third straight year and Zimmer surfaced as a leading candidate around the league, Bengals cornerback Terence Newman said tweeted: "Mike Zimmer is and always will be the best option to be head coach who is not one."

Several Bengals tweeted similar praise after the news emerged Wednesday, including linebacker Rey Maualuga: "Gonna miss you coach Zimmer! Wish you nothing but the best in Minnesota. You brought out the best in each of your players! So honored to have been coached by you!"

The 57-year-old played at Illinois State and spent 14 seasons coaching in the college ranks before being hired in 1994 as an assistant with Dallas. He got a Super Bowl ring the following season as defensive backs coach. Then he became defensive coordinator of the Cowboys in 2000 and spent seven seasons at that post, the last four under coach Bill Parcells. Zimmer led defenses in Dallas that operated in both the 4-3 and 3-4 alignments, including the 2003 group that surrendered the fewest yards in the league.

Vikings owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf, natives of New Jersey, grew up as New York Giants fans and are admirers of Parcells from his days coaching that team.

After one tumultuous year as the defensive coordinator for Atlanta, when Falcons coach Bobby Petrino quit midseason in 2007, Zimmer went to Cincinnati to work for coach Marvin Lewis. In 2009, when his wife, Vikki, died, Zimmer was named the winner of several NFL Assistant Coach of the Year awards.

Zimmer has a fiery personality, as evidenced by his profanity-laced appearances on HBO’s "Hard Knocks," which featured the Bengals in 2009 and 2013.


story continues below
story continues below

That overt intensity is a contrast to Frazier, who went 21-33-1 in three-plus seasons with one appearance in the playoffs. Frazier was a popular figure in the locker room and throughout the organization, but as a former defensive coordinator his area of expertise became the team’s biggest downfall. Despite a carousel at quarterback, the aged, injury-depleted defense was mostly responsible for the sorry showing this season. The Vikings allowed an average of 30 points per game, the most in the league, and 397.8 yards per game, the second-most.

Five of the seven reported candidates who interviewed for the vacancy had defensive backgrounds: Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Cleveland defensive coordinator Ray Horton, Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, San Francisco defensive line coach Jim Tomsula and Zimmer. The other two were offensive coordinators: Seattle’s Darrell Bevell and San Francisco’s Greg Roman.

The NFL is as quarterback-driven as ever, but winning without a sturdy defense is nearly impossible. This weekend’s NFC championship game matchup features Bevell’s Seahawks and Roman’s 49ers with two of the best young quarterbacks in the game in Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick. But each team has a stingy, intimidating defense.

———

Online:

AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.