Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Vikings head coach candidate: Mike Zimmer

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: January 9, 2014 - 2:11 PM

Coaching candidate: Mike Zimmer

Contact: Interviewed with the Vikings on Wednesday

Head coaching experience: None

NFL coaching experience: 20 seasons

1994-2006 – Secondary coach/defensive coordinator for the Cowboys

2007 – Defensive coordinator for the Falcons

2008-present – Defensive coordinator for the Bengals

Background:

Perhaps long overdue for Zimmer, but he seems to be in a great position to become a head coach in the NFL. Zimmer is rumored to be a finalist for the Vikings gig after interviewing with the organization on Wednesday. He has interviewed for head coaching positions in each of the last two seasons.

Zimmer prefers to run a 4-3 defense, but he’s had previous success in a 3-4 with the Cowboys as a defensive coordinator under Hall of Famer Bill Parcells, who belives Zimmer's ready to be a head coach. He started his NFL coaching career as a secondary coach before his promotion to defensive coordinator in 2000 with Dallas.

The Peoria, Ill. native left to become the defensive coordinator for the Falcons under head coach Bobby Petrino, who resigned 13 games into the season to become the head coach at Arkansas. Zimmer ripped Petrino for the move, calling him “a coward” for quitting on the team and his coaching staff.

Zimmer took over as defensive coordinator for the Bengals to produce of the top defenses in the league over the last three years. They’ve been in the top 10 in total defense in that span (seventh in 2011 allowing 316.3 ypg; sixth in 2012 allowing 319.7 ypg; third this year allowing 305.5 ypg). Cincinnati was tied for fifth in the NFL allowing 19.1 points a game.

Zimmer’s son, Adam, is on the Bengals staff as an assistant defensive backs coach. His wife, Vikki, of 27 years passed away on Oct. 8, 2009.

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