Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Vikings Tab Zimmer As New Coach: Will Zimmer Ride Spielman's First-Round Charm?

On Wednesday, the Minnesota Vikings did the expected, naming former Cincinnati Bengal defensive coordinator, Mike Zimmer, their head coach.  Despite having no NFL head coaching experience, the 57-year-old Zimmer has much to commend him as the ninth head coach in Vikings' history.

Among Zimmer's attributes are the fact that he consistently coaches solid defensive units, has adapted to both the 4-3 and the 3-4 systems, has a long history of solid performances, and appears not to settle for substandard effort or results.  If sideline bellicosity is any indication, Zimmer insists on changes on the fly and does not shy away from necessary confrontation.

For Vikings' fans, the announcement of Zimmer's hiring is both expected and probably welcomed.  The Vikings have been a disaster on defense each of the past three seasons and not much above average for long before that, save for the run defense in the Pat Williams era.  If Zimmer truly is a coach who will insist on and make changes as soon as they are required, that will be a welcome change from the Childress and Frazier eras of "staying the course" and "not making changes on the spur of the moment."

In addition to Zimmer's positive attributes, there is the fact that he was widely viewed as a viable head coaching candidate, with only age and lack of head coaching experience apparently impeding his prospects this year.  This is the area in which, whether through luck or simply sufficient common sense, Vikings' General Manager Rick Spielman has thrived.  When the odds say something will work and Spielman has made the move, he generally been correct.  Only when he ventures into the unknown--or the cautioned against--does Spielman seem inevitably to falter.  As such, attaching Spielman's name to Zimmer's hire likely is a good omen for the Vikings.

The only knocks on Zimmer are his lack of head coaching experience and the fact that he appears to be willing to confront and speak his mind.  The former is a hurdle for all first-time head coaches, though Zimmer is probably seasoned enough, having worked for several head coaches, including Bill Parcells, to have learned the main lessons.  The latter, however, could cause problems in an organization with a heavy top down organizational structure that loathes the free spirit.  That concern might be off-set somewhat, however, by the fact that Vikings' owner Zygi Wilf personally vetted the hire.

Zimmer is reportedly interested in bringing Norv Turner to Minnesota as the new offensive coordinator.  That, in and of itself, would be worth the Zimmer hire.

Up Next:  What Zimmer's Hire Portends for the Vikings' Quarterback Position.  Plus, coordinator matters.

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