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Vikings' Mike Zimmer gets his chance, at last

Mike Zimmer finally has a team of his own.

Hired Wednesday as coach of the Minnesota Vikings, Zimmer's ascension after two long decades as an NFL assistant shapes up as this winter's most popular transaction within league circles:

After opening their coaching search reportedly seeking a hot, young assistant, the Vikings ultimately replaced Leslie Frazier with one of the league's more grizzled and well-traveled defensive minds.

As coordinator of the Bengals, Zimmer's squads finished top 10 in points and yards allowed four times over six seasons. He's a home-run selection to turn around one of the NFL's worst units, but he'll do so with a style markedly different than Frazier's.

The Zimmer hire is a rock-solid example of the Girlfriend Theory we've long espoused on the podcast. It goes like this: Exiting a ghastly breakup, a guy's looking for the next girl to be an entirely new being from the woman who just shredded his heart. New personality, new quirks, new everything -- nothing that reminds you of the old one.

Out is Frazier's thoughtful, serene approach; in comes the fiery Zimmer, one of the league's more beloved loose cannons. As we learned from "Hard Knocks," Zimmer does not mince words.

Wednesday's hire, in short, tells us the Vikings plan to do business differently in the rough-and-tumble NFC North.

Zimmer will have plenty to say about a defense that gave up more points than any other team in the NFL last season. Like Frazier, Zimmer also will be judged by the performance of the Vikings offense. Who he brings in to call plays and guide the team's flimsy quarterback room looms as this offseason's second biggest hire in Minnesota.

The first sure looks like a winner.

The latest "Around The League Podcast" interviews Carolina Panthers star Greg Hardy and looks ahead to the Conference Championships.

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