Mike Zimmer Is Back in the NFL

Questions Answered: Roster Cuts Surprise Factor, Thought on Zimmer's New Job, Jim Marshall
Aug 29, 2019; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer walks on the field prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

After two seasons away from the NFL, Mike Zimmer is now expected to join the Dallas Cowboys for the 2024 season.

Zimmer will be taking on the defensive coordinator position left behind by Dan Quinn, who left Dallas in favor of the head coaching job with the Washington Commanders. Zimmer dropped hints back in December that he would like to get back into the NFL, and now, those desires have come to fruition.

Mike Zimmer Joins the Dallas Cowboys

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings
Jan 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer waves to the crowd after the game against the Chicago Bears at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported the news on Thursday evening, tweeting, “The #Cowboys are expected to hire Mike Zimmer as their defensive coordinator, per sources. Zimmer, 67, is the third-winningest head coach in #Vikings history and long respected for his defensive prowess. A big hire for Dallas, where Zimmer previously coached from 1994-2006.”

Zimmer spent eight seasons as the head coach of the Vikings from 2014-2021, and overall, the team went 72-56-1 during his tenure there. They made three separate trips to the playoffs, including their 2017 run to the NFC Championship Game.

Zimmer, 67, has a total of 28 years of NFL coaching experience, holding various roles with multiple teams such as these Dallas Cowboys as well as the Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, and Vikings. However, his longest stint by far came with the Cowboys where he coached for 13 years from 1994-2006.

Mike Zimmer
Dec 10, 2018; Seattle, WA, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer shakes hands with his players during pregame warmups against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The former Vikings head coach began as an assistant defensive coach in 1994 before taking on the role of defensive backs coach in 1995. Then, he held the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator role from 2000-06.

Over Zimmer’s seven seasons as DC of the Cowboys, Dallas made the playoffs twice. The 2003 season was a high-point for Zimmer’s stint in Dallas, coaching a defense that ranked second in points allowed and first in total yards allowed.

Zimmer then spent 2007 in Atlanta and 2008-13 with the Cincinnati Bengals as defensive coordinator. Following that 2013 season in which Cincinnati ranked top five in both points allowed and total yards allowed, he signed with the Vikings to become head coach.

MIke ZImmer
Oct 6, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur (left) and Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer (right) meet before a game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Zimmer has helped Dallas get to the promised land in the past (he was part of their staff during the most recent Super Bowl run in 1995), and now, this could be a golden opportunity to do so again with a number of talented players on the defensive side of the ball such as CB DaRon Bland and pass rusher Micah Parsons.

Throughout the past three seasons, the Cowboys have finished the regular season with 12-5 records before disappointing playoff exits. They are hoping that Zimmer can help change that. Other candidates for the job included Cowboys defensive line coach Aden Durde, Ron Rivera, and Rex Ryan.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via Pro Football Reference.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.