The Vikings will hire Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer as their next head coach, CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora confirms. This move wasn't unexpected as it's become clear in the past few days that Zimmer had become the team's No. 1 target. ESPN.com's Adam Schefter was the first to report the news.
Zimmer has drawn a ton of interest in the past several years, interviewing for a half-dozen head coaching jobs, but for whatever reason, he's never landed himself a job. The prevailing theory was that Zimmer is too gruff and/or too honest in his interviews, and that attitude has turned off the various decision-makers.
None of that matters now, though, because now he has one in Minnesota, taking over a squad that former coach Leslie Frazier led to the playoffs in 2012.
Zimmer had interviewed for the Titans job that went to Ken Whisenhunt, and though the Vikings also had shown interest in Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and at least five other candidates, it seemed as though Zimmer was Minnesota's first choice.
NFL.com reported that the team had planned to bring back candidates for a second interview, but instead, the Vikings brass spent time with Zimmer all day Tuesday. Then, this picture surfaced Wednesday morning of Zimmer returning for more time with the Vikings.
Mike Zimmer the Bengles Defensive Coordinator is at Winter Park again. Could he get the coaching job today? pic.twitter.com/9J3CEj3n3k— Bobby Crippa (@tropicaltundra) January 15, 2014
Not long after, the news of his hiring broke.
As the news spread around Twitter on Wednesday morning, the praise for Zimmer was nearly unanimous. His players seem to love him, as Bengals cornerback Terence Newman, who started his career with Zimmer when he was the Cowboys defensive coordinator, recently tweeted out, "Mike Zimmer is and always will be the best option to be head coach who is not one."
Plus, Zimmer drew immediate praise from at least one Vikings player.
Fired up about Coach Zimmer! As a Cincy kid he's been fun to watch there and can't wait to work with him! Welcome to the @Vikings!— Kyle Rudolph (@KyleRudolph82) January 15, 2014
The thought is that Zimmer will try to take Bengals linebacker coach Paul Guenther with him to Minnesota and make Guenther his defensive coordinator, but the Bengals apparently would like to promote Guenther to Zimmer's old position in Cincinnati. New Redskins coach Jay Gruden also reportedly has interest in bringing on Guenther as an assistant.
La Canfora writes that Guenther likely will stay in Cincinnati, though.
One report from Wednesday theorized that Zimmer would like to hire Browns offensive coordinator Norv Turner as his offensive coordinator in Minnesota, while another report posited that Scott Linehan would be a candidate. La Canfora writes, meanwhile, that Zimmer could go after Mike Mularkey for a role on the offensive staff.
And it seems as if Zimmer's reputation has preceded him.
#Vikings should start a campaign for Mike Zimmer: “Yeah, he's our (bleeping) coach!”— Sean Jensen (@seankjensen) January 15, 2014
Either way, as Viking Update notes, Zimmer has some work to do in Minnesota.
"His defensive background should be helpful in his attempts to turn around the NFL's 31st-ranked defense in Minnesota, including 16th against the run and 31st against the pass. The Vikings also finished 30th in third-down defense, tied for 30th in most first downs allowed, 29th in the percentage of passes they intercepted and 24th in sacks per pass play."
Zimmer, though, has had plenty of success as a defensive coordinator. Just look at the rankings his defensive units have produced since he's been in Cincinnati.
|Defense||Rushing Def||Passing Def|
With the exception of the 2010, how outstanding are those numbers? Yes, Zimmer deserved a head coaching job. He finally has it.
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