The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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January 15, 2014

Reports: Vikings name Zimmer as coach (updated)

(Continued)

Vikings owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf, natives of New Jersey, grew up as New York Giants fans and are admirers of Parcells from his days coaching that team.

After one tumultuous year as the defensive coordinator for Atlanta, when Falcons coach Bobby Petrino quit midseason in 2007, Zimmer went to Cincinnati to work for coach Marvin Lewis. In 2009, when his wife, Vikki, died, Zimmer was named the winner of several NFL Assistant Coach of the Year awards.

Zimmer has a fiery personality, as evidenced by his profanity-laced appearances on HBO's "Hard Knocks," which featured the Bengals in 2009 and 2013.

That overt intensity is a contrast to Frazier, who went 21-33-1 in three-plus seasons with one appearance in the playoffs. Frazier was a popular figure in the locker room and throughout the organization, but as a former defensive coordinator his area of expertise became the team's biggest downfall. Despite a carousel at quarterback, the aged, injury-depleted defense was mostly responsible for the sorry showing this season. The Vikings allowed an average of 30 points per game, the most in the league, and 397.8 yards per game, the second-most.

Five of the seven reported candidates who interviewed for the vacancy had defensive backgrounds: Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Cleveland defensive coordinator Ray Horton, Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, San Francisco defensive line coach Jim Tomsula and Zimmer. The other two were offensive coordinators: Seattle's Darrell Bevell and San Francisco's Greg Roman.

The NFL is as quarterback-driven as ever, but winning without a sturdy defense is nearly impossible. This weekend's NFC championship game matchup features Bevell's Seahawks and Roman's 49ers with two of the best young quarterbacks in the game in Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick. But each team has a stingy, intimidating defense.

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