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
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.