COACH ZIMMER'S BIO
ABOUT COACH ZIMMER
Mike Zimmer enters his 5th season as Vikings Head Coach in 2018 following a record-setting 2017 campaign that saw the Vikings go 13-3, win the NFC North title, and advance to the NFC Championship game with the #1 ranked defense in the NFL- in both yards allowed and points allowed. The #1 ranking in total defense was the 1st time the Vikings have achieved the feat since the 1993 season and a testament to Zimmer’s scheme and teaching since he inherited the #31 defense in the NFL when he took over as head coach in 2014. Zimmer was hired as the 9th head coach in Vikings history on Jan. 15, 2014. A veteran defensive coordinator, Zimmer is in his 25th season on an NFL sideline in 2018.
In his NFL tenure, Zimmer has been a part of 13 playoff teams and teams that have won 9 Division titles. He coached the Cowboys DBs when Dallas won Super Bowl XXX over Pittsburgh after the 1995 season. The 2017 Vikings rank 2nd in franchise history for wins in a regular season with 13, trailing only the 15-1 club in 1998. The Vikings landed 4 players on the Associated Press All-Pro teams- S Harrison Smith (1st Team), CB Xavier Rhodes (1st Team), WR Adam Thielen (2nd Team), DE Everson Griffen (2nd Team) and had 7 players earn Pro Bowl honors- Thielen, Smith, Griffen, Rhodes, LB Anthony Barr, DT Linval Joseph and TE Kyle Rudolph. The team had to overcome its fair share of adversity early in the season to get on a roll after a 2-2 start. Case Keenum stepped in at QB after regular starter Sam Bradford went on injured reserve and rallied the offense despite losing rookie phenom RB Dalvin Cook to injury early in the season. Individually, Thielen led the team with 1,276 yards on 91 catches and free agent pickup RB Latavius Murray led the ground game with 842 yards and 8 TDs. Griffen had a team-high 13.0 sacks to tie for 4th in the NFL and Harrison Smith had 5 interceptions. Keenum had a career-year, posting an 11-3 record as the starter, had a 67.6% completion mark to rank #2 in the NFL, the 4th-best % in Vikings history. Keenum had a 22-7 TD/INT ratio and ranked #7 in the NFL with a 98.3 passer rating, the 5th-best mark in Vikings history.
The 2016 Viking battled injuries and adversity throughout the season to finish 8-8 while plugging new talents into the offense, an opportunistic defense with a knack for takeaways (27) and a special teams group posted 3 TDs (2 PR, 1 KOR). The Vikings had 6 players earn Pro Bowl honors- DE Everson Griffen (2nd honor), S Harrison Smith (2nd honor), KR Cordarrelle Patterson (2nd honor), LB Anthony Barr (2nd honor) and CB Xavier Rhodes earned his 1st berth in the all-star game.
The loss of QB Teddy Bridgewater to injury late in the preseason led to a trade with Philadelphia to bring in Sam Bradford, who went on to a record-setting season and started the final 15 games. Bradford set the NFL completion percentage record for a season at 71.6%, set a new team mark for completions with 395 and set a new team record for interception percentage at 0.9%, with only 5 INTs in 552 attempts. Bradford developed chemistry with several pass catchers with WR Adam Thielen leading the club with 967 yards in a breakout season. Veteran TE Kyle Rudolph had the best season of his career while setting a new team mark for receptions by a TE with 83 and a new career TDs by a TE mark at 29 while leading the club with 7 receiving TDs. Emerging DE Danielle Hunter led the team in sacks with 12.5 as a situational rusher. Rhodes notched a career-high with 5 INTs on the season to lead the club and the defense scored a total of 4 TDs and a safety on the year while moving to #3 in the NFL rankings for total defense, the highest rank since 1993.
In his 2nd season leading the Vikings in 2015, Zimmer piloted the club to an NFC North title and a Wild Card Playoff berth. The team played clean, smart football down the stretch and won 3 in a row to end the regular season, capturing the division crown at Green Bay and taking the title from the 4-time defending NFC North champs. The Vikings 11-5 mark tied for the 2nd-best record since 2000 and gave the Vikings their 1st North crown since 2009. Minnesota was the least-penalized team in the NFL with 88 and lowest penalized offense in the NFL, with only 30 on the season.
The 2015 Vikings earned their success with a strong running game and stingy defense. Adrian Peterson led the NFL in rushing for the 3rd time in his career en route to 1st-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors. Bridgewater continued to grow in his role as a playmaker and engineering the offense, improving throughout his 2nd pro season. The Vikings defense ranked 5th in the NFL by allowing only 18.9 points per game.
The Vikings rookies made strong contributions as the club was led in tackles by rookie LB Eric Kendricks and in receiving by WR Stefon Diggs. Rookie DE Danielle Hunter ranked 2nd on the team in sacks, and the team tied a franchise record by having 6 rookies start in a game, at Arizona.
The 2014 Vikings turned to Bridgewater to start 12 games of his rookie season, and he responded with a 6-6 record, going 3-2 in his final 5 starts, and set virtually every franchise record for a rookie QB. Defensively, the 2014 Vikings improved from #31 in total defense to #14 in the NFL with a new lineup. The Vikings #7 ranking in the NFL in passing defense was the highest finish since the 1993 season when the club was #6. The Vikings had a 113-point improvement in offensive points allowed from 2013 to 2014, the biggest improvement in the NFL in that span.
Zimmer’s arrival in Cincinnati for the 2008 season signaled a franchise turnaround on the defensive side of the ball. The Bengals notched top-10 defensive rankings in 2009, ’11, ’12 and ’13 after only cracking the NFL’s top 10 once in 18 seasons prior to Zimmer joining the team. During his tenure, Zimmer coached Geno Atkins as he became one of the top DTs in the NFL, earning consensus All-Pro honors in 2012 and Pro Bowl berths in 2011 and 2012. In 2013, LB Vontaze Burfict continued his rise from an undrafted rookie free agent in 2012 to a Pro Bowler in 2013. Atkins became the 1st Bengals defensive lineman since Tim Krumrie in 1988 to earn a Pro Bowl trip, and Burfict was the 1st Bengals LB to be honored since Jim LeClair in 1976.
Zimmer led top-10 defenses for Dallas in both a 4-3 and 3-4 scheme. The 2003 Cowboys defense ranked #1 in the NFL with only 253.3 yards per game allowed. During Zimmer’s tenure in Dallas as DBs coach (1994-99) and defensive coordinator (2000-06) the team ranked in the top 5 of NFL scoring defense a total of 6 times. The 1995 Cowboys hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl XXX with a win over Pittsburgh, and one of Zimmer’s pupils, CB Larry Brown, won the Super Bowl MVP award with a pair of INTs in the game. Brown is 1 of only 3 DBs to earn Super Bowl MVP honors in the history of the game.
Before moving to the NFL ranks, Zimmer spent 15 seasons coaching at the collegiate level. He spent his final 5 seasons in the college ranks as defensive coordinator at Washington State from 1989-93. Zimmer was at Weber State from 1981-88, serving as defensive coordinator from ‘83-88. He entered the profession at Missouri as an assistant from 1979-80.
Zimmer played QB and later LB at Illinois State, earning a degree in physical education. He has 3 children - son, Adam, and daughters, Corri and Marki. Adam is coaching the Vikings LBs after having spent time with Kansas City, New Orleans and Cincinnati as an assistant LBs and DBs coach. The father and son have each both earned Super Bowl titles with Adam’s coming after the 2009 season when the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV over Indianapolis. Coaching is a family tradition with the Zimmers as Mike’s father, Bill, earned Illinois Hall of Fame honors as a prep football and wrestling coach. Zimmer played football, baseball and wrestled at Lockport Township High School in suburban Chicago. Both Bill and Mike Zimmer have been inducted into the Lockport Hall of Fame, and Bill is also in the Bradley University and Illinois High School Hall of Fame.
Vikki Zimmer, Mike’s wife of 27 years, passed away in Cincinnati on Oct. 8, 2009. The Pro Football Writers of America recognized Zimmer overcoming the tragedy by voting him the winner of the Halas Award for the season, an annual award presented to the individual in the NFL that overcame the most adversity to succeed. The Zimmer family awards scholarships to deserving students through the Mike Zimmer Foundation, which also hosts an annual football camp for youth.