Gruden to Redskins, Zimmer a Vikings favorite

Mike Zimmer (Joe Robbins/Getty)

The Vikings were scheduled to interview Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, but he accepted the Washington Redskins head coaching job. Instead, the Vikings reportedly have another Bengals coordinator, Mike Zimmer, as one of their favorites.

Even as the Vikings lost one head coaching candidate to the Washington Redskins, another has emerged as "a favorite" with the Vikings, according to ESPN.

The Redskins hired former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, but current Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is one of the Vikings' favorite candidates, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is also believed to be among the favorites.

Zimmer has a 20-year track record as a defensive coach in the NFL, including 14 years as a defensive coordinator. In 2013, the Bengals finished third in total defense, the fourth time in the last five years they have accomplished that. He also has experience running both 3-4 and 4-3 defensive schemes.

Zimmer, who has interviewed for head-coaching positions the last two seasons, reportedly interviewed with the Vikings on Wednesday and is scheduled to meet with the Tennessee Titans on Thursday.

Vikings general manager Rick Spielman made it clear the hiring of a new head coach would be "thorough," not hurried. He also said he would narrow the search down to "two or three" candidates and then get the Wilf ownership group involved in the final decision. Whether time allows him to be that patient remains to be seen.

"We don't have ‘a guy.' I think there's a lot of potential candidates out there," Spielman said last week. "I don't think everybody needs to panic (and say), ‘This team already hired a guy. This team already hired a guy. What are the Vikings doing?' We are going to go through our process and do our due diligence and I think there is enough potential candidates out there that we will be able to get the guy that we want."

Former Cowboys safety Darren Woodson, who played for Zimmer from 2000-2004, called Zimmer "a great leader."

In 2013, the Bengals defense finished fifth in passing yards and fifth in rushing yards allowed, tied for third in first downs per game, second in third-down efficiency and fifth in fourth-down efficiency.

The Vikings, on the other hand, finished 31st in total yards on defense, 31st in passing yards per game, 30th in third-down efficiency and tied for 30th in first downs per game.

The Vikings have also interviewed Seattle Seahawks coordinators Darrell Bevell (offense) and Dan Quinn (defense), Bowles and Cleveland Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton and have expressed interest in several other candidates.

Before joining the Bengals in 2008, Zimmer was the defensive coordinator with the Atlanta Falcons in 2007 and Dallas Cowboys from 2000-06 (four of those seasons under Bill Parcells). Previously, he held different coaching duties with the Cowboys, Washington State, Weber State and Missouri after playing quarterback and linebacker for Illinois State.


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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