Bengals name Zimmer

Updated: 10:35 a.m.

The scouting report on new Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer:

Fiery. Emotional. No nonsense.

Kevin Hardy, the former linebacker who came to Cincinnati in 2003 the year after he played for Zimmer in Dallas, said Monday night that players will know where they stand.

"He's the kind of guy that he'll show you exactly what he wants you to do," Hardy said. "And if you don't do it, he'll find somebody that will. He'll draw it up on the board and he's got which guy should make the tackle at what spot."

The Bengals made the move official Tuesday and tapped the former Cowboys and Falcons defensive coordinator in what looks to be a return to the 4-3 defense.

Also Tuesday, no word on the status of former receivers coach and Falcons offensive coordinator Hue Jackson with the club. The Bengals have received permission to talk to him, but since all the offensive coaches have signed contracts for '08 there may be no room unless another coach leaves.

That could happen if quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese hooks on with the Rams as offensive coordinator. The St. Louis-Dispatch reported Zampese has interviewed with the Rams, the latest in a series of teams that have courted him over the last several years, including the Jets and Panthers.

Like Jackson, another NFL offensive coordinator who was Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer's offensive coordinator at USC came on the market Tuesday when Norm Chow was fired by the Titans. His name has been linked to the Bengals on at least one Internet site, ProFootballTalk.com, but Jackson's tight relationship with the Bengals receivers is also a huge draw.

Zimmer needs to bring a linebackers coach to fill Ricky Hunley's spot and it won't be his backers coach in Atlanta. Brian VanGorder, who coordinated the Georgia defense of Bengals David Pollack and Odell Thurman, is the now the coordinator at South Carolina.

Like the man who hired Zimmer, head coach Marvin Lewis, he arrives after spending seven years as a coordinator with one perennial playoff contender (Dallas), one year with another team (Atlanta), and winning a Super Bowl ring as a secondary coach with the 1995 Cowboys.

He's the third coordinator hired by Lewis in his six seasons and brings more experience in the role than Chuck Bresnahan (four years in Oakland) and rookie coordinator Leslie Frazier.

Zimmer is going to be introduced Wednesday at an 11 a.m. Paul Brown Stadium news conference.

"Mike has coordinated defenses at a high level in the NFL for a number of years," Lewis said in a press release. "This is obviously a very important hire for me and for our organization. I'm excited about utilizing Mike's ability to develop our young players and our defensive scheme."

Zimmer, 51, arrives with a steel-belted resume. In the past few seasons, he has turned down the Nebraska head coaching job before it was offered to Bill Callahan, the day after he got hired in Atlanta last year he interviewed for the Chargers' head job, and Bill Parcells retained him when he took the head job in Dallas in 2003.

Zimmer made his mark in Dallas during 13 seasons with the Cowboys, six in the secondary and seven as coordinator in a stretch the defense earned seven top 10 rankings and the No. 1 spot in 2003.

And one thing he's done that no Bengals defensive coordinator has done since Dick LeBeau in 1990 is coach a draft pick to the Pro Bowl.

Just this past season in Dallas, safety Roy Williams was named to his fifth Pro Bowl, and cornerback Terence Newman and linebacker DeMarcus Ware are in their second.

During Zimmer's one year in Atlanta this past season, the No. 29 defense not only suffered from the loss of quarterback Michael Vick, but it lost its two starting defensive tackles at the beginning of the season, played a rookie defensive end in Jamaal Anderson, and a rookie cornerback in Chris Houston.

Zimmer's charge is as daunting as it is simple: He has to raise the level of a defense that hasn't been above No. 27 in four of Lewis' previous five seasons.

Plus, the Bengals may very well not have returning two of their leading tacklers in right end Justin Smith and linebacker Landon Johnson, and they could end up starting a pair of two-year safeties.

It remains to be seen if Zimmer is going to bring along his own playbook, or if Lewis tries to graft some of the Bengals' current system on Zimmer's stuff.

But one thing seems almost definite. Zimmer is a 4-3 guy that reluctantly changed to a 3-4 under Parcells the last couple of years in Dallas.

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

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