Hartman: Parcells thrilled by Vikings' choice of Zimmer

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 17, 2014 - 12:31 AM

The Hall of Fame coach said Mike Zimmer has a deep understanding of football because he is a coach’s son.

Add Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells to the list of football geniuses who believe that the Vikings selected a winning coach in Mike Zimmer.

“When I went to Dallas [in 2003] he had been the defensive coach there and they thought highly of him,” Parcells said Wednesday, the day the Vikings hired the Bengals defensive coordinator to replace Leslie Frazier. “You know I talked to him and decided to keep him.”

Zimmer had been Cowboys defensive coordinator since 2000, spending three years working under Dave Campo. Parcells said that under him, Zimmer utilized a different kind of defensive scheme than he had in the past and that Dallas eventually transitioned to the 3-4 system.

“The thing I like about him the best is he’s a coach’s son, he understands the game, and he understands the things that go with the game,” Parcells said. “I think that’s a great advantage when you grow up and your whole life has been football, and football has been in your house every night. I think it’s a great advantage.

“My experience with people like Mike and Bill Belichick and the guys I’ve had that were coach’s sons, is they’re very, very dedicated, they’re very diligent and hard work is never a problem. That’s why I think he has a good chance to be successful.”

Parcells said he gave Zimmer complete control of the defense with the Cowboys.

“Yes he did [have control],” said Parcells. “Now you know I always try to keep my hand in as best I could, but yeah, he was in charge.”

Parcells and Zimmer went 34-32 in their four years together in Dallas, including a pair of playoff losses.

“We weren’t great,” said Parcells about his teams in Dallas. “I would say we were OK, we were average. We went to the playoffs a couple of times in four years, but I wouldn’t say we had a great team.”

Still, the two-time Super Bowl winner said that he was surprised it took this long for Zimmer to get a head coaching position. Parcells did note that defensive coaches haven’t been as in demand the past few years when it came to NFL head coaching vacancies.

“Well that’s a good question, you know it’s more in vogue now to go with these quarterback coaches and offensive coaches,” Parcells said. “People feel that the game is more offense-oriented now than ever before, and they think that those are the guys that are going to be successful. But I, of course, don’t believe that necessarily.”

Parcells pointed out that one of Zimmer’s great characteristic is his ability to handle players.

“The players are going to love him,” he said. “They’re going to love him. But this isn’t going to be any church picnic, now. He’ll be tough on them.”

Does he believe that Zimmer is ready for the position?

“Oh yeah, I think he has been ready for quite some time,” Parcells said. “I’m very hopeful that he does well. But so much of this is based on the support system and what he has. But I think being with Rick Spielman is going to help, because you know Rick is a coach’s son, too. I think that combination is pretty good.”

When Parcells was told about the defensive struggles the Vikings had in close losses this season, he said he is excited to see if Zimmer can change some of that.

“I’m just hopeful that he can come in and do a good job,” he said. “Being a head coach is a little different than being a defensive coordinator. There will be a little period of adjustment for him, but I think he’s ready to try to make that.”

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