Zimmer on Zimmer

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He’s got the name of a winner, obviously, but is Mike Zimmer the right coach for the Vikings?
Anyone who pretends to know with certainty is an attention seeking hack. We never really know who will be a great coach and who won’t. And plenty of coaches out there who are considered ‘failures’ were actually fairly successful (like, say, Brad Childress).

Mike Zimmer might be the next Bill Cowher. He might also be the next Rod Marinelli.

As a Vikings fan, I was hoping that Rick Spielman and/or Zygi Wilf would recognize that the Vikings could use an experienced coach. Never in their history (except when they dragged Bud Grant back for one year after the Les Steckel disaster) have the Vikings hired a head coach with prior NFL head coaching experience.

With that being the case, I was in favor of the Vikings going after Jack Del Rio, the Broncos excellent defensive coordinator who had a solid head coaching stint in Jacksonville (and was also a terrific player for the Vikings in the 90s).

But if the Vikings are going to go with another first-time head coach, I feel like Zimmer is the safest bet. He’s not a hotshot up-and-comer. He’s not the architect of some fancy new scheme and he isn’t the latest Super Bowl winning assistant looking to cash in on a big year.

No, Zimmer is the lifelong assistant who’s paid his dues and finally gets his shot. To me, that’s the next best thing to being an established head coach. He has experience, just not head coaching experience. He’s ready for this.

The first time I saw him on TV, he was Dallas’ secondary coach. I was like, ‘Hey, that guy’s name is Zimmer.’ I wouldn’t have even remembered him otherwise. But over the years, I kept noticing how he was still there, even as Jerry Jones kept cycling through coaches. He worked his way up to defensive coordinator, then moved to Atlanta, where he gained a lot of respect for his reaction to Bobby Petrino’s middle-of-the-night departure.

From there he moved on to Cincinnati, where he drew attention not just for turning the Bengals defense into a consistently strong one, but for showing a lot of personal strength in dealing with the in-season death of his wife.

Zimmer gets very high marks from his players and colleagues, and while every coach out there can find someone to stick up for him (like say, Jim Caldwell continually getting work solely from his connection to Tony Dungy), it was genuinely impressive to see the overwhelming support and praise for Zimmer from around the league on Wednesday. If he proves to be a failure, I think it will be an upset. There’s pretty much nobody out there who doesn’t seem to think he’ll do well.

I like that Zimmer is a fiery guy (anyone who’s seen ‘Hard Knocks’ can attest). The Vikings have had the soft-spoken (Frazier), the aloof (Childress), the comedian (Mike Tice) and the paranoid (Dennis Green). It’s been awhile since they’ve had a hard-nosed guy whose strength could be as a motivator.
I’d love to see them land Norv Turner as offensive coordinator, and I trust Zimmer with whoever he picks as his defensive coordinator. It’ll be interesting to see if Mike Preifer is retained, or if the Vikings internal review determines that he does, in fact, want to nuke all the gays til they glow.

Of course, Zimmer needs a quarterback, something, in fairness, Leslie Frazier never really had.
If Rick Spielman gives Zimmer a good quarterback and makes some savvy additions to the defense, I’m optimistic the Vikings can get back on track.