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Mike Zimmer thriving with Vikings after

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Posted on: 11/20/17
It took Mike Zimmer 20 years to become an NFL head coach. But the wait is starting to pay off.In his third season with the Vikings, Zimmer is a leading candidate for coach of the year.MORE: Brady, Ryan, Carr top list of MVP candidates Despite losing All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson and starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to knee injuries, and starting tackles Matt Kalil (hip) and Andre Smith (triceps) with season-ending injuries, the Vikings are 5-1 heading into Monday nights game in Chicago.The Vikings were the last team to lose this season and those who know Zimmer Andre Hal Jersey arent surprised by his early succe s.I feel great for him. Im excited for him, Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis told Omnisport. Theyre playing great football. I watch their games each week. They do a great job.Theyve been overcoming a lot and still winning football games.Zimmer is 23-15 over his first two-plus seasons. After losing Peterson in 2014 because of a child abuse case, the Vikings went 7-9 in Zimmers first season. Peterson returned last season to lead the NFL in rushing as the Vikings went 11-5 and ended Green Bays streak of four straight NFC North division titles.Mike is a tremendous coach, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said in September. He has always been very good. His units have always been very productive every place that he has been.Zimmer was pa sed over for head coaching positions in San Diego, Miami, Tampa Bay, Cleveland and St. Louis before landing the Minnesota job. Hired by those teams instead were, respectively, Norv Turner who, ironically, is now Zimmers offensive coordinator in Minnesota Joe Philbin, Greg Schiano, Rob Chudzinski and Jeff Fisher.Those are very big jobs. Its not easy to get one of them, Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells told Omnisport. Youve got to find the right mix of people you seem to identify with. Theyre like you and youre like them. It doesnt just happen.Am I surprised? You see every year guys who have had to wait a long time to become a head coach. And then you see some who get head jobs at a very young age and you dont know why they got them. Its unusual. You never know.A native of Illinois and the son of a coach, Zimmer has lived football all his life. That was one of the things that impre sed Parcells when he kept Zimmer on the Dallas Cowboys staff in 2003 in the transition from Dave Campo. Zimmer actually survived three coaching changes with the Cowboys.They had a high regard for Mike in Dallas, so I talked to him and wound up hiring him, Parcells said. Hes a very, very straight talker. You do not have any problem interpreting what he says. Hes very succinct and to the point.MORE: Cam Newton fears for safety, calls out refs Zimmer was a quarterback at Illinois State before moving to linebacker, but a neck injury in 1976 ended his playing career. He got his first coaching job in 1979 as a part-time defensive a sistant at Mi souri. Also on Warren Powers' staff was Mike Price, who was Mi souris quarterbacks and receivers coach. When Price got hired as the head coach at Weber State in 1981, he took Zimmer with him as his linebackers coach.Zimmer was on Prices staff for eight years at Weber State and then five years as Prices defensive coordinator at Washington State before getting hired by then-Cowboys coach Barry Switzer in 1994.Hes the best defensive coordinator Ive ever been around or know about, Price told the St. Paul Pioneer Pre s in 2014 .Price said he couldnt believe it took Zimmer so long to become a head coach, Charles Woodson Jersey but has a theory as to why.Maybe its because hes honest and blunt and tells the truth. Hes real. Hes not a phony, Price said. Hes very well-respected in the profe sion, and hes really a players coach. Hes a strong disciplinarian, but the players just love him.Parcells said its a little early to know if Zimmer will have sustained succe s in the Minnesota, but says Zimmer has that program heading in the right direction.Made even sweeter because Zimmers path to becoming a head coach has definitely been a long one.Sometimes theres a little harder road for whatever reason, Lewis said. He had things that fell through, but things happen for a reason. He ended up in a great place and is a good fit. Hes obviously done a great job turning things around there and changing the culture.Lewis, who said Zimmer's direct approach "eliminates gray areas" with his players,has known Zimmer since their paths first cro sed in 1981. Zimmer was then a linebackers coach at Weber State and Lewis held the same position at Idaho State. Weber State went 7-4 with Price at the helm while Lewis was part of a Bengals team that won the 1981 Division I-AA national championship.By the time Zimmer was hired by the Cowboys in 1994, Lewis had been on the staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers for two seasons.MORE: Sam Bradford the best thing going for Vikings offenseThey were on opposite sidelines again in Super Bowl XXX, which Dallas won 27-17. Zimmer was the defensive backs coach for the Cowboys until 2000, when he was promoted to defensive coordinator. Lewis had been hired by the Baltimore Ravens in 1996 as their new defensive coordinator, a position he held until 2001.Weve always stayed in contact and talked football, Lewis said. When he became the coordinator of the Cowboys, we spent quite a bit of time Tashaun Gipson Jersey together. He even came to see me in Baltimore and we just talked football how they coached things in Dallas and how we coached things in Baltimore."Marvin Lewis and Mike Zimmer (Getty)Zimmer left the Cowboys following the 2006 season to become Bobby Petrinos defensive coordinator in Atlanta. Current Cleveland Browns coach Hue Jackson, who was with Lewis with the Washington Redskins in 2002, was Atlantas offensive coordinator.Petrino bolted with three games remaining in a disastrous 4-12 season and Jackson went on to become the quarterbacks coach for the Ravens while Zimmer joined Lewis staff in Cincinnati as the defensive coordinator. Jackson told Lewis he was very impre sed by Zimmer and Lewis said it was a natural pick to bring his friend to Cincinnati.He came up here and we got lost in the day, Lewis said. We lost Antonio Garcia Jersey track of time and forgot to eat dinner and everything else. We were talking football and saw things the same way. It was a good fit.MORE: Best images from Week 8The adversity felt by the Vikings this year was nothing compared to the personal adversity Zimmer faced in 2009, when his wife of 27 years, Vikki, died suddenly at the age of 50.Zimmer was left a single father to their son, Adam, who is now the Vikings linebackers coach, and daughters, Corri and Marki.It was a hard year, very hard on Mike, Lewis said. It was a difficult time.The Bengals also felt the death of wide receiver Chris Henry two months later, but still finished 10-6 to win the AFC North.As a football team, with 63 players and 20 coaches, approximately, we go through a lot every football season that a lot of people dont know about, Lewis said. Its just part of it with that many people and their families.Mike did a great job. The players did a really good job rallying and then, later on when Chris pa sed he had some very good friends who watched him turn his life around it was just very unfortunate that we lost him.Zimmer was the Bengals defensive coordinator from 2008-13 before getting the opportunity to lead the Vikings. While he has yet to face his former team during the regular season, the Vikings and Bengals played this preseason and held joint practices the week of the game. Lewis said it was fun hanging out with his friend that week and has nothing but respect for the detail-oriented Zimmer.He knows how to coach it from the top to the bottom, front the front all the way to the secondary, Lewissaid. Hes very direct and does a good job of reading the pulse of his guys and getting them prepared to play."

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