It's that time of the week for another profile of Head Coach candidates. How long this goes on probably depends on how long it takes Jeff Fisher to make up his mind. Even if Fisher decides the Rams over the Dolphins, I expect Miami to offer the position to their second option shortly after.
This week I'll look at Bengals Defensive Coordinator, Mike Zimmer. Zimmer just completed an interview with the Dolphins as well.
Zimmer started out as a part-time defenive assistant with the University of Missouri in 1979 and 1980. He received his first full-time position with Weber State College as an ILB Coach, but he was promoted to DB coach after four seasons. Zimmer stayed at Weber State as a DB coach for four additional seasons and was again promoted, this time to Defensive Coordinator, a position he held for six years.
Zimmer moved on from Weber State went to Washington State University in 1989 and served as Defensive Coordinator and Secondary Coach. He held the position for 5 seasons. In his final season, the Cougars finished 8th in total defense and 2nd in rushing defense.
Zimmer received his first NFL offer by former Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Barry Switzer in 1994. Zimmer served as Secondary Coach for six seasons and was part of a Super Bowl champion in which Larry Brown, a Defensive Back, earned MVP honors. In 2000, Zimmer was promoted to Defensive Coordinator. In 2001, the Cowboys ranked 4th in the NFL in yards allowed. In 2003, the Cowboys had the league's highest rated yardage defense and finished second in scoring defense.
Zimmer installed a 3-4 defense in 2005 under the direction of Bill Parcells and in his first year operating a 3-4 defense, Zimmer led the Cowboys to a 10th ranked defense. Before Zimmer left the Cowboys in 2007, he had survived multiple Head Coaches in his stint in Dallas. He had served with Barry Switzer, Chan Gailey, Dave Campo, and Bill Parcells during his tenure in Dallas. During his tenure, the Cowboys finished top 5 in scoring defense 6 times. Eight defensive players made the Pro Bowl a combined 23 times during Zimmer's time in Dallas.
Zimmer joined Bobby Petrino in Atlanta as Defensive Coordinator in 2007, but lasted only a single season as Petrino resigned during the season. Zimmer then joined the Cincinnati Bengals in 2008 as Defensive Coordinator, a position he still holds today.
The Bengals saw immediate improvement in 2008 when their defense ranked 12th in yards allowed, up from 27th in 2007. In 2009, Zimmer earned Assistant Coach of the Year honors after guiding the Bengals to the 4th ranked defense despite his wife passing away during the middle of the season. In fact, Zimmer returned to the sidelines to coach the Bengals to a 17-14 victory over the Baltimore Ravens only 3 days after her passing. Zimmer's defense saw a number of injuries in 2010 when 9 defensive players landed on the Injured Reserve. Of the 9, four of them had landed on the Injured Reserve within two weeks of each other in the middle of the season. The Bengals improved as the season went on and rookie Carlos Dunlap went on a tear with 8.5 sacks in the final 6 games of 2010. The Bengals would finish with the 15th ranked defense. In 2011, the Bengals finished with the 7th ranked defense in yards and 9th ranked defense in points allowed. The Bengals remained stout despite the loss of standout CB Johnathan Joseph leaving via free agency. The Bengals defense also was unable to field LB standout Keith Rivers for a single game this season and lost their other standout CB, Leon Hall, for the season in November when he was placed on the Injured Reserve.
While Zimmer has operated both a 4-3 and a 3-4 defense, it is likely he'd convert Miami to a 4-3 defense if he was hired as Zimmer only moved to a 3-4 defense because that was Parcells' preference when the two were in Dallas. It'd be a wild guess who he would bring in to fill out his staff, but it would probably be unlikely Mike Nolan would return with Zimmer being hired. It's possible he could try to bring in Ken Zampese with him from Cincinnati to serve as Offensive Coordinator.
I really don't have any problems with Zimmer and I believe our defense would remain very strong, but still, my personal preference would be to have a coach that could improve our offensive production. I do believe he can be a very successful Head Coach as his scheme has worked with multiple franchises despite constant turnover of Head Coaches, players, and even a conversion to a 3-4 defense. The players also love playing for him. I just don't think it's the place for him. I think he'd be a great fit for the Rams or the Colts, both franchises who would benefit greatly from an improved defense and have QBs in place that won't need much direction for the offense. Plus it's not believed that you need a strong offensive-minded coach to bring Andrew Luck along if he wound up coaching the Colts.