The Cincinnati Bengals now face a harsh reality: Opening the 2014 NFL season without one of the best coaches they’ve had in over a decade, and he’s not even the head coach.
Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer has almost single-handedly changed the image of the Bengals since he came to Cincinnati in 2008.
Once regarded as finesse defense that routinely finished in the bottom-half of the league in total defense since hall of famer Dick LeBeau brought his blitzkrieg scheme to the Queen City.
Zimmer’s units routinely have carried the Bengals since he took over, and losing him could dramatically change the image of this team going forward. He just completed his 20th season in the NFL, 14th in a row as defensive coordinator and his sixth straight as Bengals DC and has been a key reason Cincinnati has made the playoffs a franchise-record three-straight seasons.
His latest unit finished the 2013 regular season ranked third in total defense (305.5 yards per game) and tied for fifth in points allowed (19.1 per game), and now he may be one someone else’s sideline in the next season, as the Minnesota Vikings have tabbed Zimmer as a finalist for their vacant head-coaching job.
As of now, the Vikings ownership and front-office personnel plan to bring him in for a second interview, according to Master Tesfatsion of the Minnesota Star Tribune.