Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bengals' DC Mike Zimmer drawing interest from Dolphins

As reports emerge that Jeff Fisher is leaning toward taking the St. Louis Rams' head-coaching position, the Miami Dolphins continue to line up backup plans. A day after the Cincinnati Bengals' playoff exit, the Dolphins' newest candidate has emerged.

FOX Sports' Jay Glazer reported Sunday that Bengals' defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is among those being considered by the Dolphins for their vacant head-coaching job. Zimmer joins Dolphins' interim head coach Todd Bowles, Bears' special teams coordinator Dave Toub, Packers' offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, and Falcons' offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey as potential candidates if the Fisher pursuit falls through.

A former quarterback and linebacker at Illinois State, Zimmer gained more than a decade and a half of coaching experience at the collegiate level before joining Barry Switzer's staff with the Dallas Cowboys as a defensive assistant in 1994. A Super Bowl XXX champion, Zimmer served as the Cowboys' secondary coach from 1995 to 1999 before becoming defensive coordinator in 2000.

Zimmer's seven-year stint as the Cowboys' defensive coordinator also included time under head coach and future Dolphins' vice president Bill Parcells from 2003 to 2006, while Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland served in the Cowboys' front office. During his first year under Parcells, Zimmer's defense ranked first in the NFL in yards and second in scoring.

Upon the departure of Parcells in 2007, Zimmer spent one season as the Falcons' defensive coordinator under Bobby Petrino before taking the same job with the Bengals in 2008. Since arriving in Cincinnati, Zimmer's defense has ranked 12th in 2008, fourth in 2009, 15th in 2010, and seventh in 2011. Zimmer also had to endure the sudden passing of his wife during the 2009 season.

I have to say, of all the coaches the Dolphins have interviewed, I might like Zimmer the most. I like that he has experience with Parcells and Ireland in Dallas. I've never been the biggest fan of Ireland's, but if he's going to keep the job, I want him to have the backing of the owner and be able to build the team the way he wants it. I think the familiarity with Zimmer can only be a good thing.

Despite being primarily a 4-3 guy, Zimmer has run the 3-4 with success and would probably be able to keep it intact in Miami as Ireland builds the roster to fit that scheme. My preference has always been to keep the 3-4 scheme in Miami and that has been my biggest concern with hiring Fisher and a potential change.

The Dolphins may not settle on a head coach for at least another few weeks, depending on whether or not they want to wait for Philbin or someone like Saints' offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, Jr. to be available after the playoffs are over.

However, I hope Zimmer garners serious interest from the Dolphins and receives an interview with the team, because I think he's quality candidate and would have no qualms with him being the next Dolphins head coach.

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