After 35 years as an assistant coach, the dream of Mike Zimmer finally comes through. He succeeds Leslie Frazier as the ninth head coach in Minnesota Vikings history. Zimmer has been patient, waiting and trusting that the right opportunity would come his way.
Zimmer has worked the last six years in Cincinnati as the defensive coordinator. He’s 57 years old and has served as a defensive coordinator with Dallas, Atlanta and Cincinnati.
“I have a chip on my shoulder,” said Zimmer “I have my own ideas on evaluating players. I’m a fixer — I get things fixed.”
He has interviewed for NFL head coaching vacancies five times before with not much success. He was offered the University of Nebraska job in 2003 and turned it down. He wanted to get that opportunity as an NFL head
Somewhere along the line I’ve heard that patience is a virtue. Zimmer is a good man, a strong family man. He has dealt with adversity in his life. During the season a few years ago he lost his wife of natural causes when she was 50 years old. He has three children, two girls and a son. Hall of Fame Head Coach Bill Parcells has been a strong advocate of Zimmer’s.
Zimmer has a talented roster of Vikings players to work with. The Vikings were 5-10-1 in 2013 and finished in last place in the NFC North.
It will be critical for him to develop a strong working relationship with General Manager Rick Spielman. Finding a productive franchise quarterback for the Vikings will be job one for Zimmer, who has a reputation of developing and getting a lot out of his players to be successful. If Zimmer is forced to play Christian Ponder at quarterback, he will struggle as Frazier did with consistency.
He’s a demanding coach and teacher and has been portrayed by HBO’s Hard Knocks series as having a strong personality and being demanding about getting his players to produce. The Vikings allowed 480 points last season, the most of any team in the NFL. That will be one of the many priorities on the long list of Vikings problems that Zimmer will be faced with correcting.
I think he’s a good hire for the Vikings. I believe they need to shake things up in that clubhouse. Fair or not, the perception was that Frazier was a players’ coach and Zimmer is not, that he will get after guys in ways that Frazier did not. We will soon see.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to [email protected], or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.