IRVING, Texas -- Mike Zimmer is finally a head coach in the NFL. The Minnesota Vikings will reportedly name him their next head coach, and it’s about time Zimmer got a shot.
He deserved one a few years ago. Kudos to the Vikings and Rick Spielman for hiring Zimmer, who was a Dallas Cowboys' assistant from 1994-06 and still has a home in the area.
But let’s put to rest something about the Cowboys running Zimmer off after the 2006 season. They didn't.
If you believe that, then you can never be upset with the notion that Jerry Jones picks the assistant coaches. Never.
After Bill Parcells retired, Jones interviewed 10 candidates. Three were on the staff: Tony Sparano, Todd Haley and Todd Bowles. Zimmer wasn’t one of the interviewees.
Jones finally picked Wade Phillips as coach because of Phillips’ success in running a 3-4 defense. The Cowboys had just finished their second year running the scheme. Their work in the draft and in free agency was about finding 3-4 players.
Were the Cowboys going to keep Zimmer as the coordinator in 2007 with Phillips running his own defense? Of course not. This was Phillips’ defense and Phillips’ team. And if they did, then we would have heard more complaints that Jones would not let Phillips hire either coordinator, Zimmer or Jason Garrett, who was actually hired before Phillips.
There is also some revisionist history regarding Sean Payton’s tenure here too; that Jones never should have let Payton walk to the New Orleans Saints. Was Jones supposed to get rid of Parcells after the 2005 season so he could keep Payton from taking the New Orleans Saints’ gig? Of course not.
Now if you want to say Jones should have done more to get Payton after the coach was suspended for a year by the NFL and had a little bit of time as a free agent in 2012, then I’m with you. But in 2006 there was no way of knowing Payton would become what he is today.
Let’s bring this back to Zimmer and 2006-07.
Zimmer’s expertise had been in the 4-3, but when Parcells wanted to make the switch to the 3-4 in 2005, Zimmer became an expert on it as well. It’s part of the reason why he coordinated such strong defenses with Cincinnati and partly why he got the job with the Vikings today.