The Minnesota Vikings have replaced one defensive-minded head coach with another one. Mike Zimmer, passed over for top coaching jobs for many years, finally has his chance to run a team.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday that Zimmer will be the next coach of the Vikings, according to a source informed of the deal. ESPN first reported the news. The Vikings later made the announcement official.
The longtime assistant previously had interviewed for five coaching jobs and been passed over for many other interviews despite an excellent body of work as a creative defensive mind. Anyone who has watched Zimmer during three separate seasons on HBO's "Hard Knocks" knows that he is a man who doesn't pull verbal punches. The style might not be for every owner, but Zimmer has earned this shot. He's been great in his career at maximizing his talent and developing defensive players.
Zimmer replaces Leslie Frazier, a defensive coach who couldn't solve Minnesota's offensive issues. Rapoport reported that the Vikings have received permission from the Cleveland Browns to interview offensive coordinator Norv Turner for their open OC post, per a source who has spoken to Turner. NFL Media columnist Michael Silver says to watch out for former Detroit Lions offensive coordinator and St. Louis Rams coach Scott Linehan as another potential candidate for the position.
Rapoport added that Bengals linebackers coach Paul Guenther, who had drawn interest from the Vikings and Washington Redskins as a potential defensive coordinator, has been promoted to replace Zimmer as DC in Cincinnati, according to a source informed of the impending move.
In Minnesota, Zimmer inherits a roster without a lot to get excited about outside of running back Adrian Peterson. Defensive end Jared Allen is expected to leave the team via free agency. Talented defensive end Everson Griffen also is a free agent and the roster needs work at linebacker. Still, Zimmer has some fun pieces to play with on defense: defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, safety Harrison Smith, cornerback Xavier Rhodes and defensive end Brian Robison.
The offensive talent is led by Peterson, left tackle Matt Kalil and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, who looks like a future star. Give this franchise a true starting quarterback and an offensive plan, and Zimmer could win games soon.
That's easier said than done. Until Zimmer and friends can solve the quarterback issue, the Vikings will be playing catch-up in a quarterback-rich division.