After a quiet, six-month hiatus from the NFL, former Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer has re-surfaced.
The 66-year-old coach who compiled a 74-59-1 record as the third-winningest coach in franchise history before he was fired in January, made a homecoming to the place where rose through the coaching ranks.
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Zim Visits Bengals Training Camp
On August 7, Zimmer, who owns a ranch in Walton, Kentucky, a half-hour outside of Cincinnati, was welcomed back to Cincinnati Bengals training camp after he spent six seasons as the Bengals defensive coordinator.
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Zimmer’s son and former Vikings co-defensive coordinator Adam Zimmer was hired as an offensive analyst this offseason — begging the question of whether Mike may return to the Bengals coaching ranks.
“I have a feeling we might be seeing Mike Zimmer with the Bengals very soon,” Last Word on NFL editor Will Koshover tweeted.
The Bengals are coming off a surprise Super Bowl run under a second-year head coach in Zac Taylor. Cincinnati leaned on a top-flight offense with Joe Burrow, but the Bengals defense could use some improvement, ranking 17th in points allowed.
The Bengals defense ranked in the top-10 in points allowed four of the six seasons with Zimmer as defensive coordinator.
It’s unlikely Zimmer lands a coordinator job at this stage in the NFL offseason, however, he could come along as a defensive assistant or advisor role.
He recently took on a role as an analyst for The33rdTeam.com, a football analytics site that features insight from former NFL players, coaches and executives — including (oddly enough) former Vikings general manager Rick Spielman.
Zimmer & Spielman Took Different Roads After Vikings
In the fallout of Spielman and Zimmer’s firings in January, the two team leaders took opposite routes.
Zimmer went dark, spending time with his family and staying out of the limelight. Meanwhile, Spielman went on a media parade, guest-spotting on numerous shows, offering his executive insight while also taking the occasional subliminal jab at Zimmer.
But Zimmer’s closest allies came to his defense. Deon Sanders revealed that Zimmer and Spielman “hadn’t talked for months” and that the relationship hit a “downward spiral.”
Zimmer’s girlfriend also blasted Spielman after passively calling out Zimmer for his poor relationship with Kirk Cousins.
“I think the No. 1 thing you’re looking for is that head coach has to have a relationship with that quarterback,” Spielman said on The Herd with Colin Cowherd in January. “And can a defensive head coach connect with that quarterback? Now, you know an offensive coach is probably going to be able to because that’s his job. But can a defensive coach do the same thing?”
Miketin replied (in a now-deleted tweet) to a tweet sharing the video, saying “What about the GM having a relationship with the organization? Not talking to your coach for three months? Rick, Backpeddling and ‘spin’ have always been your ‘game’. You should be embarrassed by your media blitz of ‘it wasn’t my fault’.”
A fan prodded the idea that both Zimmer and Spielman are to blame for the growing divide in their final season with the organization, saying “neither of them tried.”
Miketin asserted that Zimmer did try and that he became alienated in the building by Spielman.
“Nope. The coach did,” she said. “But when your boss won’t talk to you… and isn’t the building.”
Coming out of the honeymoon of the 2017 NFC Championship game run, Spielman made the decision to sign Cousins that was likely the fracturing point between him and Zimmer. Zimmer, whose defense was the league’s top-ranked unit that season, was losing his grip on the team that was changing and moving in a new direction.
While both former Vikings leaders have seen their reputations take a hit, they left the organization with grace and left a roster that’s ready to compete.