Mike Zimmer
Minnesota Vikings
Date of birth: (1956-06-06) June 6, 1956 (age 64)
Place of birth: Peoria, Illinois
Career information
Status: Active
Position(s): Head Coach
College: Illinois State University
 As coach:







University of Missouri
(Defensive Assistant)
Weber State University
(Inside Linebackers Coach)
Weber State University
(Defensive Backs Coach)
Washington State University
(Defensive Coordinator)
Dallas Cowboys
(Defensive Backs Coach)
Dallas Cowboys
(Defensive Coordinator)
Atlanta Falcons
(Defensive Coordinator)
Cincinnati Bengals
(Defensive Coordinator)

Mike Zimmer (born June 5, 1956 in Peoria, Illinois) is the head coach for the Minnesota Vikings. He is the son of former NFL player Bill Zimmer and the father of Adam Zimmer, a former defensive assistant/linebackers coach for the Kansas City Chiefs.[1] Adam is currently a special teams assistant with the Bengals.

Playing career[edit | edit source]

In high school, Zimmer was a successful multi-sport athlete who earned all-conference honors in football (1972–73), baseball, and wrestling at Lockport Township High School. He enrolled at Illinois State University, majoring in physical education. He played quarterback in 1974, but he redshirted the following year and moved to linebacker in 1976 after breaking his thumb. A neck injury prematurely ended his playing career that same year.

Coaching career[edit | edit source]

College[edit | edit source]

Zimmer's first coaching job was as a part-time defensive assistant at the University of Missouri from 1979–1980. He then coached at Weber State College from 1981-1988, serving as the inside linebackers coach from 1981–84, the defensive backs coach from 1985–88, and the defensive coordinator from 1983–88. From 1989-1993, Zimmer served as the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach for the Washington State Cougars. In 1993, the Cougars defense ranked eighth in the nation in total defense and second in rushing defense.

National Football League[edit | edit source]

Dallas Cowboys[edit | edit source]

He joined the Dallas Cowboys in 1994 as an assistant coach of the nickel defense under Barry Switzer. He was promoted to defensive backs coach in 1995 and served in that capacity before being promoted to defensive coordinator in 2000. The 2003 Dallas Cowboys defense gave up the fewest yards in the NFL while running an aggressive, speedy 4-3 defense. Despite the Cowboys' problems over the years, Zimmer survived several coaching changes (Switzer, Chan Gailey, Dave Campo, Bill Parcells) and was rumored to have been a candidate for the head coaching job at the University of Nebraska (circa 2003). In 2005, he implemented the 3-4 defense favored by head coach Bill Parcells, although Zimmer had no prior experience with it.

Atlanta Falcons[edit | edit source]

When Bobby Petrino was hired to coach the Atlanta Falcons early in 2007, Mike Zimmer agreed to become the new defensive coordinator in Atlanta. Zimmer coached in Atlanta for only once season after Petrino left the Falcons for the University of Arkansas after thirteen games. Zimmer has been very outspoken against Petrino since the events of Petrino's unexpected departure from Atlanta in 2007.[2]

Cincinnati Bengals[edit | edit source]

Zimmer was named the defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals on January 15, 2008. In 2009, Zimmer earned NFL Assistant Coach of the Year honors from Pro Football Weekly/Pro Football Writers and from CBSSports.com,[3] after guiding the Bengals to the 4th ranked defense in the league. In 2011, the Bengals finished with the 7th ranked defense in total yards and 9th ranked defense in points allowed. In 2012, the Bengals finished with the 6th ranked defense in total yards and 8th ranked defense in points allowed,[4] prompting the Cleveland Browns to interview Zimmer for their head coaching vacancy.[5] The Browns eventually hired former offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski on January 11, 2013.[6]

Personal life[edit | edit source]

His wife, Vikki, died unexpectedly at their Ohio home on October 8, 2009. Three days later Zimmer was awarded the game ball by head coach Marvin Lewis after the team's 17-14 victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Dave Campo
Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator
Succeeded by
Brian Stewart
Preceded by
Ed Donatell
Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator
Succeeded by
Brian VanGorder
Preceded by
Chuck Bresnahan
Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator
Succeeded by
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