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Mike Zimmer returns to NFL as Cowboys’ defensive coordinator

Publish Date: 02/10/2024
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster

Former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer is reportedly making a comeback in the NFL. As per the sources of Tom Pelissero from NFL Network, Zimmer will be joining the Dallas Cowboys as their new defensive coordinator.

“The #Cowboys are expected to hire Mike Zimmer as their defensive coordinator, per sources,” Pelissero wrote on the social media X on Friday, February 9. “A big hire for Dallas, where Zimmer previously coached from 1994-2006.”

The ex-Vikings head coach secured the position over Ron Rivera, former head coach of the Commanders, and Rex Ryan, former head coach of the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills, both of whom reportedly interviewed for the job.

Previously, Cowboys team owner Jerry Jones hinted that he had “spent the entire afternoon on the phone with our future defensive coach” on Thursday’s NFL Honors red carpet. However, Jones declined to verify if it was Zimmer at the time.

Now official, Zimmer is set to join the Cowboys following the departure of former defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Quinn has left to take on the head coaching role with the Washington Commanders.

At 67 years old, Zimmer is considered one of the biggest figures in football for his defensive prowess. He is set to lead one of the NFL’s most talented defensive units, which featured linebacker Micah Parsons, cornerback Trevon Diggs, and placekicker Daron Bland.

Zimmer will become part of a coaching staff led by head coach Mike McCarthy, whose job security has been questioned despite three consecutive playoff appearances resulting in only one win and no trips to the NFC championship game.

Vikings’ dismissal fallout

Back in January 2022, the Vikings dismissed Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman due to consecutive playoff misses and a subpar record. With the dismissal, Zimmer’s tenure with the team ended after eight seasons.

Under Zimmer’s leadership, the Vikings clinched the NFC North twice and avoided finishing last in the division. Their peak came in the 2017-2018 season when they boasted a 13-3 record and advanced to the NFC Championship game. They ultimately lost to the Philadelphia Eagles, who became Super Bowl champions.

Despite achieving a 72-56-1 record, placing him third in win percentage in Vikings history, the team never reached .500 in his final two seasons.

Meanwhile, Spielman joined the team in 2006 and assumed the role of general manager in 2012. He was responsible for hiring Zimmer in 2014.

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