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Reset; 'They're still my guys'; Another Zimmer on the move

Posted Jan 17, 2014

When Mike Zimmer stepped in front of the cameras in Minnesota on Friday, the Bengals also lost another defensive coach on the rise.


Adam Zimmer

Updated: 10 p.m.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis's new coordinators get their first look at college prospects when they head this weekend to Mobile, Ala., to scout next week's Senior Bowl. While offensive coordinator Hue Jackson and his staff continue a self-scout analysis that will form the bulk of the revisions in the playbook, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther is beginning his checklist of things to do before the May draft.

His No. 1 priority is hiring two assistants to his staff and the first one could be announced as soon as Saturday. Both figure to be in place so that they are at next week's practices in Bengals garb. Then after Guenther and his wife go to Hawaii for the Jan. 25 Pro Bowl as the guests of Bengals WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict, Guenther will conduct his own self-scouting with the staff while also going over the scheme with the new coaches the week after the Super Bowl.

"We'll come up with the top 10 things we have to work on and get better at and I'm not sure what they'll be. You have to sit down and go through it," Guenther said. "Then I'll sit down with each coach and we'll go over the changes and revisions and how we want to get it done."

That gets the new defensive staff to the Feb. 22-25 NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, when the preparations for the May 8-10 draft begin to heat up. After the combine, the coaches begin to fan out to campus workouts and then the players arrive in mid-April for offseason workouts. Before the defense hits the field for the spring camps following the draft, Guenther plans to hold a mock game plan week for his staff that simulates a work week during the regular season.

"It's going to be mainly for the new guys, but it's just a dry run for everybody to make sure we all know how the week is going to go," Guenther said. "By then the schedule will be out, so we'll probably take the first opponent and go through the week like we're preparing for a game. We'll go through the whole thing, starting from drawing (practice) cards from last year."

STILL MY GUYS: Mike Zimmer's whirlwind day spun just where you think it would as he checked in Friday night via phone. He was only seven hours removed from his first presser as the Vikings head coach and he was ready to get to the grit and leave the glitz behind.

"It feels great. I'm excited because of the newness and the challenge. But I don't want to win press conferences. I want to win games," Zimmer said.

But before all that, even as he fills out his staff and makes plans to jump on a plane to the Senior Bowl sometime in the next few days, there was time to reflect on six years in Cincinnati and what it meant in his life. He has been fielding calls from Bengals the past 48 hours. One offensive player, left guard Andrew Whitworth, called. The rest were those guys that made up a perennial top 10 NFL defense that put the Bengals in four postseasons since 2009.  

"They're still my guys; I love them," Zimmer said of his players that gave him the shot to realize his dream of being a head coach at age 57 after 35 years as an assistant. "It was great. The fans were great and always so supportive. I'd go out to the store or something and it was always, 'Way to go, Coach.' It was just fabulous. And how hard the players played and the way we were able to mold them, it was a great experience."

Once the job was offered, he said, there was no way he was turning it down. But he knew what he was leaving in Cincinnati.

"I really think we can accomplish so much; that's the tough thing about leaving," Zimmer said. "We've molded these guys; we really had a good thing going."

Zimmer spent the day talking about the impact of Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells on his career and how Parcells called on Wednesday and told him to get a pen so he could write down three things. He didn't need a pen for the advice Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has been telling him and let the media in on Thursday.

"You can’t see demons and ghosts and things. We’re all in this together, and the whole building has got to feel that from you. You can’t alienate yourself from the rest of the building, because we all share in this together, plus and minus," Lewis said. "Everybody has to be on the same page, and it’s up to you to bring on the same page. There are a lot of good people that don’t get an opportunity to affect the wins and losses as much as you and the coaches and the players do on Sunday, but yet they’ve got to do their job each and every day. So make sure you’re supportive of them as well and that the whole building feels that kind of support.”

On Friday night it was evident Zimmer took it to heart when asked what he'll take to Minnesota from Lewis.

"The way Marvin treated people," Zimmer said. "The way he went out into the community and what he's done for the city. How he lets his coaches coach. The way he got along with the front office."

Zimmer thinks his successor, Paul Guenther, "is going to do fine. Paulie's been brought up in the system, he's a smart guy. He's probably thought I squelched him. Now he can do anything he wants."

Zimmer was laughing. Told Guenther thinks Zimmer is mad at him because he chose to stay and not become his defensive coordinator with the Vikes, Zimmer sighed after his long day.

"It's kind of settled down pretty much up here," he said. "I think everything is going to be just fine."

Back to winning games, not press conferences.

A ZIM ON MOVE: When Zimmer stepped in front of the cameras in Minnesota on Friday and painted a scene of sharing a Super Bowl trophy ceremony with Vikings owner Zygi Wilf, the Bengals also lost another defensive coach on the rise.

Bengals assistant secondary coach Adam Zimmer is expected to join his father's staff and if he becomes a position coach for the first time in his nine NFL seasons, it won't surprise Bengals president Mike Brown and head coach Marvin Lewis. They told him he was welcome to stay after his first season with the club, but they understood.

"It would be hard for me to be on a different staff when my dad's a head coach," Adam Zimmer said. "I thought about it because sometimes you want to do your own thing. But for me not to be there for his first game as an NFL head coach, that would be hard for me."

Adam Zimmer, who turns 30 later this month, has had a lot of thoughts churning the past few days, ever since the Vikings turned to his father Wednesday morning. It ended a decade of waiting. And five unsuccessful bids in the NFL to be the head man. And you can go back longer than that.

Adam told his dad to take the Nebraska head coaching job in 2003, but he got outvoted in the family. The late Vikki Zimmer, wife and mom, was in the NFL faction.

"She saw him as an up-and-coming guy in the NFL. I think that was her train of thought. And here it is," Adam said. "I'm unbelievably proud. I'm thankful. It was tough to see every year when he didn't get one and how depressed he was. 'Why don't they want me?' For someone to say, 'You're our guy,' it's pretty special."

His mother has been on his mind the past few days. Check that. Vikki is often on Adam's mind ever since she passed suddenly in October 2009, when he was helping coach the linebackers in New Orleans and his dad was in his second year with the Bengals. When the job came through Wednesday, sister Corri texted, "I wish Mom was here to see it."

"She's right. Mom would have been loving it," Adam Zimmer said. "She would have been a great head coach's wife."

That's one of the many reasons Adam Zimmer feels connected to the Bengals, and not just for this past season. He's got a lot of regard for Brown and Lewis and it's a two-way street.

"(Brown) told me he wished us the best and he wished we weren't leaving," Adam Zimmer recalled of his meeting in the corner office. "Mike has been great to our family for the last six years. He was unbelievably supportive when Mom passed. He's been great to us. To see him work, it makes me appreciate the stuff he does. He's a very smart football man."

The last year has been special for the son because he no longer had to do what he's done since he can remember and every day look up how the Cowboys or Bengals were doing. But it sounds like he'll keep an eye on the Bengals. He remembers the game in Baltimore right after his mom passed, the one he and his grandfather and a sister attended and the Bengals won, 17-14, in the last minute.

"That was a special game; they played so hard," Adam Zimmer said. "The players here, every game I've seen, they've always played hard.

"I've had six years of ties to this organization. Not just the one. It always holds a special place in my heart."

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