Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, believed to be the frontrunner in Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman’s extensive head coaching search, arrived in the Twin Cities today for two nights and will spend Tuesday going through a second interview that will include the team’s ownership, the Star Tribune has learned.
Zimmer, 57, has spent 20 seasons as an NFL assistant, including the past 14 as a defensive coordinator for three teams, including Dallas, where he worked with Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells for four seasons, Atlanta and Cincinnati, where he revived a dormant defense and helped the Bengals post three consecutive playoff seasons for the first time in franchise history.
Zimmer has never been a head coach in the NFL or in college, where he spent 15 seasons as an assistant at Missouri, Weber State and Washington State. If hired, he would be the Vikings’ ninth head coach and the third one hired since current owners Zygi and Mark Wilf bought the team in 2005.
As Spielman’s coaching search entered its third week on Monday, two other finalists were believed to have surfaced. They are Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and Seahawks coordinator Dan Quinn.
Both are among the seven candidates Spielman has interviewed. Bowles is available immediately for a second interview, which may take place this week if the team doesn’t move quickly to hire Zimmer. Quinn, meanwhile, would not be available until next week because the Seahawks are in Sunday’s NFC Championship game.
Also in the title game and unavailable until next week are San Francisco’s offensive coordinator Greg Roman defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. They interviewed with Spielman on Saturday in Charlotte, N.C., the day before the divisional playoff game against the Panthers.
Bowles has not been scheduled for a second interview as of Monday afternoon, according to John Wooten, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance.
Also known to have interviewed with Spielman are Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton. The Vikings had interest in Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase, but he has refused all interview requests until after the Broncos’ season is over.
-- Mark Craig and Master Tesfatsion