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Mike Zimmer
Defensive Coordinator
Experience:
6

Bio

Mike Zimmer is in his 20th season as an NFL coach and in his sixth with the Bengals as defensive coordinator. In 2012, his unit was arguably the strongest yet of his Bengals editions. As Cincinnati reached the playoffs for a second straight year and three years of the last four, the defense ranked sixth in the NFL in fewest yards allowed (319.7 per game) and third in sacks (club-record 51). The Bengals also were in the NFL top 10 in fewest points allowed, ranking eighth at 20.0 per game.

 

Mike Zimmer is in his 20th season as an NFL coach and in his sixth with the Bengals as defensive coordinator. In 2012, his unit was arguably the strongest yet of his Bengals editions. As Cincinnati reached the playoffs for a second straight year and three years of the last four, the defense ranked sixth in the NFL in fewest yards allowed (319.7 per game) and third in sacks (club-record 51). The Bengals also were in the NFL top 10 in fewest points allowed, ranking eighth at 20.0 per game.

The figures were consistent with, and a bit improved from, the defense’s 2011 performance. In ’11, the defense ranked seventh in fewest yards allowed and fifth in sacks, and the team finished ninth in fewest points allowed. The Bengals have achieved a top 10 defensive ranking in three of the last four years, after doing that only once in the 18 seasons preceding Zimmer’s 2008 hire.

Under Zimmer, the Bengals have gotten consistent progress from players who joined the team with high potential but needed NFL development. The leading examples are Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson, neither a first-round draftee but rated entering 2013 as among the most promising defensive end pairs in the NFL. Zimmer has overseen the rapid development of Pro Bowl DT Geno Atkins, and last season saw the sudden success of LB Vontaze Burfict, signed as a college free agent after being bypassed in the draft.

Personality is as important as the playbook in the success of Zimmer, who has earned interviews for vacant NFL head coaching positions in each of the last two years.

“Zim does a great job of identifying who to push and when,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis says. “He helps me by being the guy who puts his foot up their butt, getting them moving in the right direction so I don’t have to be the one to do it all the time.”

In 2009, Zimmer earned NFL Assistant Coach of the Year honors from Pro Football Weekly/Pro Football Writers and from CBSSports.com. He also won the assistant of the year award from FOX broadcaster and Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw.

Supporting Cincinnati's run to the ’09 AFC North championship, the defense ranked No. 4 in the NFL (301.4 yards allowed per game) and led the team to a No. 6 ranking in scoring defense (18.2).

The 2013 season marks Zimmer’s 14th straight year as an NFL defensive coordinator. He was coordinator at Dallas from 2000-06, including four years (‘03-06) under Hall of Famer Bill Parcells. Zimmer moved to the Atlanta Falcons as coordinator in 2007 and signed with the Bengals on Jan. 15, 2008.

Zimmer led top 10 defenses for Dallas in both the 4-3 and 3-4 schemes. His 2003 Dallas defense led the NFL in fewest yards allowed (253.5 per game). Six times during Zimmer’s Dallas tenure as secondary coach and later coordinator, the Cowboys finished fifth or better in the NFL in scoring defense.

Zimmer earned a Super Bowl ring as secondary coach with the 1995 Cowboys team that defeated Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XXX. One of Zimmer’s players, unheralded CB Larry Brown, won the game’s MVP award with a pair of interceptions.

Zimmer coached 15 years in the college ranks before joining the Cowboys, working at Missouri, Weber State and Washington State.

Born on June 5, 1956, in Peoria, Ill, Zimmer played QB and later LB at Illinois State. He has three children — son Adam and daughters Corri and Marki. Adam Zimmer earned a Super Bowl ring in 2009 as defensive assistant/linebackers coach for the New Orleans Saints, and Adam has joined the Bengals for 2013 as assistant LBs coach. Mike’s father, Bill, made the Illinois Hall of Fame as a prep football and wrestling coach.

Vikki Zimmer, Mike’s wife of 27 years, passed away in Cincinnati on Oct. 8, 2009. The Pro Football Writers of America recognized Zimmer’s trial and the defense’s strong ’09 performance by voting him its Halas Award, which goes annually to the individual in the NFL who overcame the most adversity to succeed.

PLAYING AND COACHING HISTORY - 1974-76: Played QB and later LB at Illinois State. 1979-80: Assistant coach (AC), Missouri. 1981-82: AC, Weber State. 1983-88: Defensive coordinator, Weber State. 1989-93: Defensive coordinator, Washington State. 1994-99: AC, Dallas Cowboys. 2000-06: Defensive coordinator, Dallas Cowboys. 2007: Defensive coordinator, Atlanta Falcons. 2008-present: Defensive Coordinator, Bengals.

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