Mike Zimmer has returned to the NFL, the place where it all started.
NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero said that Dallas is selecting Zimmer, a veteran Cowboys assistant and former head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, to be its new defensive coordinator.
Along with former Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera and former New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, Zimmer was among the well-known interviewees.
Long renowned for his ability to lead tough defenses and his gritty style of coaching, Zimmer should fit in well as Dan Quinn’s replacement. Quinn led a top-five scoring defense in Dallas for three seasons before moving on to become the head coach of the Commanders.
That’s going to be Zimmer’s role to take up after a two-year break.
During his eight years as head coach of the Vikings, which included one disastrous trip to the NFC Championship Game, he built a top-10 scoring defense five times and made three trips to the playoffs. He took over the team in 2014.
Zimmer had an 8–9 season and was let go with a 72–56-1 career record.
He coached against one of his new bosses, Mike McCarthy, who was then the Green Bay Packers’ manager, for five of those years while he lived in Minnesota. Zimmer has a 5-4-1 head-to-head record throughout that time, even though both players have won the division twice in their time fighting for the NFC North.
The 67-year-old Zimmer also coordinated Atlanta’s defense for the 2007 season and was the Bengals’ DC from 2008 to 2013. However, he started his NFL coaching career with Dallas as a 23-year-old assistant in 1979, after spending 15 years as an assistant in the collegiate levels.
After serving as an assistant coach for the Cowboys in 1994, Zimmer was promoted to the position of defensive backs coach for the 1995 season, which marked the team’s final trip to the Super Bowl in that decade.
He retained that position until the 1999 season, at which point he was selected for the first time to be Dallas’ defensive coordinator, a role that he stayed in for seven years.
Under Zimmer, the Cowboys produced two scoring defenses in the top four in the NFL, including a 2003 campaign that saw them finish second in yards and first in the league in points allowed.
2006, his last year there, served as Bill Parcells’ farewell to the NFL.
Overall, Zimmer worked for Dallas for 13 years, through three head coaching changes, and was a member of the staffs of Parcells, Dave Campo, Barry Switzer, and Chan Gailey.
He will now report to a fifth head coach of the Cowboys, as McCarthy and Zimmer set aside their rivalry in the NFC North to focus on winning the NFC East together.
The defense has plenty of superstars to help out, including Micah Parsons, Trevon Diggs, Daron Brand, and DeMarcus Lawrence.
After several years apart and several years out of the NFL, Zimmer is returning home to Dallas — with both sides hoping it will lead to a return to the Super Bowl glory that marked the early part of his first career.
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