After a week and a half, "Zim Watch 2014" has come to an end.
Mike Zimmer, the Bengals' longtime defensive assistant, has finally earned his first head-coaching opportunity. And as we wrote in this blog Wednesday, his departure for the Minnesota Vikings has already left a bittersweet taste in the mouths of Bengals fans.
Social media mostly reflected happiness among Bengals fans and players alike. But there was a visible undertone of sadness, too. The man who spent six years in the community and formed some of the tightest bonds of his coaching career was leaving. Zimmer should have had a head-coaching job years ago, so fans knew they were lucky to have him in orange and black stripes for as long as they did.
Well, now the city of Cincinnati doesn't have him, although that doesn't mean he may not pay a visit from time to time in the offseason. He recently bought a 43-acre plot of land in nearby Independence, Ky., and is looking to build a house there. Just before he started interviewing for head-coaching positions, Zimmer said he hadn't started building on the land, and wasn't sure if he would build if he got hired away.
He's got a big decision to make now.
The Bengals elevated linebackers coach Paul Guenther to the defensive coordinator post. Both coordinator positions in Cincinnati were filled by members already on the coaching staff. Hue Jackson was promoted to Jay Gruden's offensive coordinator spot following Gruden's departure for the Washington head-coaching job. Now, Cincinnati just has to hire a linebackers coach, and presumably an assistant defensive backs coach. The person who had been occupying that role was Adam Zimmer, Mike's son.
As we close this chapter of Mike Zimmer's coaching career, let's take a look at what others are saying about him. Thursday's Morning Stripes are all about the man who was known in these parts as "Zim."
Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson writes about how the Bengals are relying on continuity with respect to both coordinator changes. As a team makes a transition from one coach to another, it's always best when the addition comes internally. The terminology will remain the same, the style ought to remain similar.
Hobson also has this item on Bengals.com about how history may be on Cincinnati's side following these offseason departures. The last three teams that lost both coordinators in the same season went on to roll the following season. The 2006 Chargers lost both coordinators but went 11-5 and made it to the AFC title game in 2007. A year after losing both their coordinators, the Jaguars went 14-2 and appeared in the conference championship.
Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty writes about how Zimmer's legacy was one that hinged on making well-polished players from raw, undeveloped talent. The Vikings, Daugherty posits, will be getting a true talent developer.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Sid Hartman has this read on one former Bengal who is entering free agency with the Vikings this offseason. Receiver Jerome Simpson, Hartman writes, was excited to hear the news that he'd be linking back up with Zimmer. Discipline will be Zimmer's chief message, Simpson said. If he's able to re-sign, he'll be glad to take it.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press' Tom Powers praised Zimmer's hiring if only because the new coach was the anti-Leslie Frazier. Some players expressed the same feelings, citing Frazier's lack of stepping up and challenging them as a reason they wanted a firebrand like Zimmer.