MINNEAPOLIS — Mike Zimmer, known as a no-nonsense disciplinarian, is the new coach of the Minnesota Vikings.
A 20-year veteran NFL assistant coach who worked with Hall of Famer Bill Parcells in Dallas before turning the Cincinnati Bengals’ defense around as their defensive coordinator the past six seasons, Zimmer will be named the ninth head coach in the Vikings’ 54-year history.
Zimmer, a 57-year-old who has never been a head coach at any level, replaces Leslie Frazier, who was fired on Dec. 30, and becomes the third head coach hired since current owners Zygi and Mark Wilf bought the team in 2005.
The hiring on Wednesday came six years to the day Zimmer was brought in by the Bengals as their defensive coordinator.
“It’s a good hire,” said defensive end Brian Robison. “I think he’s one of those guys that’s very passionate. Obviously he’s going to expect the best out of his players week-in, week-out, and I think it’s a great job. (General manager) Rick (Spielman) and the (staff) did their homework as far as interviewing a bunch of guys and came up with what best suits our organization.”
The intense Zimmer will be a change from Frazier, who was usually calm and collected.
“We’ve got the guys in the locker room to handle any type of coach they throw at us,” Robison said. “We got a lot of mentally tough guys that, if you look at our season last year, things weren’t going the way they needed to be. Guys stayed in and fought hard, so I think we have guys that can pretty much handle anything in that locker room.”
Although the Vikings seem to have a need offensively at quarterback, they struggled mightily on defense in the 2013 season, when they were 5-10-1. With money to spend in free agency, their defense might be rebuilt.