Vikings hire Zimmer as ninth head coach

Mike Zimmer (Diamond Images/Getty)

The Vikings hired Mike Zimmer as their next head coach, according to multiple reports that the team confirmed Wednesday night.

After 2½ weeks, the journey to naming the ninth head coach in Minnesota Vikings history is over.

Meet Mike Zimmer, former defensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys, and new head coach of the Vikings.

The Vikings interviewed at least seven candidates to replace Leslie Frazier, who was fired on Dec. 30, but Zimmer was the only one of those that returned to Minnesota for a second interview. He was officially hired Wednesday after going through an extensive day of meetings and meet-and-greets Tuesday.

After 20 years as an assistant coach, including 14 as a defensive coordinator, and interviews for head coaching positions over the last three offseasons, Zimmer lands his first job as head coach.

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.

"I'm grateful to the Wilf family, Rick Spielman and the entire Vikings organization for giving me an opportunity to join a franchise with such a strong tradition and an extremely passionate fan base," Zimmer said in a statement. "I believe in a disciplined and physical brand of football and I look forward to getting to work on leading a team capable of long-term success."

Zimmer's defense in Cincinnati has had a much more successful run over the last six seasons he has been coordinating them.

Last year, the Bengals had the third-ranked defense – fifth in both rushing yards and passing yards allowed – and were fifth in points allowed per game (19.1), tied for third in first downs allowed, seventh in percentage of passes intercepted and 14th in sacks per pass play.

In 2012, his defense ranked sixth in the NFL in fewest yards allowed (319.7 per game) and third in sacks (club-record 51). The Bengals also were in the NFL top 10 in fewest points allowed, ranking eighth at 20.0 per game. He also had a top-10 defense in 2011.

In 2009, he earned NFL Assistant Coach of the Year honors from Pro Football Weekly/Pro Football Writers.

"Fans will appreciate Mike's intensity on the field and his down-to-earth attitude off the field," said owner and president Mark Wilf. "We strongly believe he will help us compete for division championships each year and lead us to our ultimate goal of bringing a Super Bowl championship to Minnesota."

Before joining the Bengals, Zimmer was the defensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys from 2000-06, including four years (2003-06) under Hall of Famer Bill Parcells. Zimmer spent the 2007 season as defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons before joining the Bengals in 2008.

He coordinated top-10 ranked defenses for the Cowboys using both the 4-3 and 3-4 defensive schemes, and in 2003 Dallas led the league in fewest yards allowed (253.5 per game).

Zimmer joined the Cowboys in 1994 and became their defensive coordinator in 2000. He also coached 15 years in the college ranks prior to his years in Dallas, working at Missouri, Weber State and Washington 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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