Mike Zimmer was hired as the 9th Head Coach in Vikings history on January 15, 2014. A veteran defensive coordinator, Zimmer enters his 21st season on an NFL sideline, the past 14 working as defensive coordinator for Cincinnati (2008-13), Atlanta (2007) and Dallas (2000-06).
Zimmer has been a part of 11 playoff teams in his NFL tenure and teams that have won 7 Division titles. He coached the Cowboys DBs when the team won Super Bowl XXX over Pittsburgh after the 1995 season. Zimmer’s Bengals defenses since 2008 have ranked in the NFL’s top 10 in total defense 4 times, climbing to #3 in 2013. Since 2011, the Bengals ranked #2 in the NFL with 139 sacks (46.3 per season) and have allowed 18.8 points per game, ranking #4 in the NFL in points allowed. The 2013 Bengals posted 20 INTs, the 5th-best mark in the NFL.
Zimmer’s arrival in Cincinnati for the 2008 season signaled a franchise turnaround on the defensive side of the ball. The Bengals notched top-10 defensive rakings in 2009, ’11, ’12 and ’13 after only cracking the NFL’s top 10 once in the previous 18 seasons before Zimmer joined the team. During his tenure, Zimmer coached DT Geno Atkins as he became one of the top DTs in the NFL, earning consensus All-Pro honors in 2012 and Pro Bowl berths in 2011 and 2012. In 2013, LB Vontaze Burfict continued his rise from a rookie free agent in 2012 to a Pro Bowler in 2013. Atkins became the 1st Bengals defensive lineman since Tim Krumrie in 1988 to earn a Pro Bowl trip and Burfict was the 1st Bengals linebacker to be honored since Jim LeClair in 1976. Over the 2012 and 2013 seasons the Bengals had 4 different players earn AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors- Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap, Atkins and Burfict.
Zimmer led top-10 defenses for Dallas in both a 4-3 and 3-4 scheme. The 2003 Cowboys defense led the NFL with only 253.3 yards per game allowed. During Zimmer’s tenure in Dallas as DBs coach (1994-99) and Defensive Coordinator (2000-06) the team ranked in the top 5 of NFL scoring defense a total of 6 times. The 1995 Cowboys hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl XXX with a win over Pittsburgh and one of Zimmer’s pupils, CB Larry Brown, won the Super Bowl MVP award with a pair of INTs in the game.
Before moving to the NFL ranks, Zimmer spent 15 seasons coaching at the collegiate level. He spent his final 5 seasons in the college ranks as defensive coordinator at Washington State from 1989-93. Zimmer was at Weber State from 1981-88, serving as defensive coordinator from ’83-88. He entered the coaching profession at Missouri where he served as an assistant from 1979-80.
Zimmer played QB and later LB at Illinois State, earning a degree in physical education. He has 3 children, son Adam and daughters Corri and Marki. Adam is an NFL coach, having spent time with Kansas City, New Orleans and Cincinnati. The father-son duo has both earned Super Bowl titles with Adam’s coming following the 2009 season when the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV over Indianapolis. Coaching is a family tradition with the Zimmers as Mike’s father, Bill, earned Illinois Hall of Fame honors as a prep football and wrestling coach.
Vikki Zimmer, Mike’s wife of 27 years, passed away in Cincinnati on October 8, 2009. The Pro Football Writers of America recognized Zimmer overcoming the tragedy and the Bengals #4 ranked defense playing a key role in winning then AFC North title by voting him the winner of the Halas Award for the season, an annual award presented to the individual in the NFL that overcame the most adversity to succeed.