Cowboys to hire with former Vikings coach Mike Zimmer as defensive coordinator: Reports

The Dallas Cowboys have agreed to terms with former Vikings coach Mike Zimmer to make him their defensive coordinator, according to multiple reports. NFL Network was the first to report this news.

Zimmer would replace Dan Quinn, who’s now the head coach for the Washington Commanders.

Although Zimmer hasn’t coached in the NFL the last two seasons, he makes sense for the job because of his familiarity with Mike McCarthy and with the Cowboys franchise. Dallas was looking for someone with previous head coaching and defensive coordinator experience. Zimmer has done both. His No. 1 job as Cowboys DC will be improving the team’s poor run defense.

Next will be finding a way to put superstar DE/LB Micah Parsons in the best position to be as effective late in the season as he had been earlier in the year. Does that mean more snaps at linebacker? Does it mean fewer snaps in September and October? Either way, their defense will likely go as Parsons goes next season. Fixing the run game likely means upgrades at both linebacker and defensive tackle. Zimmer will have a say in how they immediately improve those positions. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has said they will be “all in” this upcoming season. Upgrading in those areas likely means doing something before the draft in April.

Given all of the candidates that were being interviewed for the defensive coordinator job, including former head coaches Ron Rivera and Rex Ryan, along with Cowboys assistant coach Aden Durde, Zimmer was the one that seemed to make the most sense. Often in Dallas, the question that is asked when a move is made is: Who made the decision? Was it the owner and general manager, Jones, or was it the head coach? In the case of Zimmer, the respect would come from both sides.

Zimmer had a long career in Dallas, dating back to the 90s dynasty and running through the Bill Parcells era. He started as a defensive assistant, became the defensive backs coach and also served as a defensive coordinator. He went on to become a coach in Minnesota for eight years, where he battled for the NFC North for years against McCarthy’s Green Bay Packers, even taking the division from McCarthy a couple of times. As an offensive mind and playcaller, McCarthy has respect for Zimmer and as a coach and person, Jones has familiarity and loyalty. It’s easy to see this one being a mutual decision between the primary powers within the Cowboys’ brass.

Zimmer coached the Vikings from 2014 to 2021. He went 72-56-1 with the Vikings, the third-winningest coach in Minnesota history. Before the Vikings, Zimmer was defensive coordinator with the Cincinnati Bengals (2008 to 2013), the Atlanta Falcons (2007) and the Cowboys (2000 to 2006).

The Cowboys went 12-5 in 2023, winning the NFC East before losing to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC wild-card game.

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(Photo: Jeffrey Becker / USA Today)

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