Report: Browns to interview Mike Zimmer
Mike Zimmer brings fire to the sideline. Sometimes, his players feel like he's breathing it.
His reported interview with the Cleveland Browns on Wednesday is probably something that should have happened before. If it doesn't work for the Browns, it should happen with one of the five other teams looking to fill a coaching vacancy.
This isn't to say that Zimmer, the Cincinnati Bengals' defensive coordinator for the past five years, is absolutely the right man for the job in Cleveland. But he's absolutely the type of no-nonsense, football-first, unafraid-of-any-challenge guy the Browns should be interviewing and considering for the job.
He'll certainly make an impression on new Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner, and it will be up to them if it's the right one.
Zimmer is afraid of bad play, not bad words or calling out underperforming players. Players love him, too, for his attention to detail, ability to adjust and focus on getting every ounce of talent and effort out of his guys. The Bengals have been a top-10 defense the past two seasons; the worst they've ranked under Zimmer is 15th, and considering that came in a 4-12 season with the defense on the field all the time, that's quite an accomplishment.
He's never been shy about his desire to be a head coach or that he feels he's earned the right. From what we think we know about the Browns' search so far, it's been focused on offensive-minded coaches since a discussion with Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton. Zimmer will get a chance to sell the Browns' new decision-makers on his smarts, his tough-minded approach and his history of players improving on his watch and coming to embrace him. He's been in the league long enough that building a staff successfully and efficiently shouldn't be a problem, and his experience the past five years with coaches driving personnel decisions in Cincinnati should mean that he won't have a problem with Banner sitting at the head of the table.
The Browns have a talented young core on defense, and those guys should be crossing their fingers that Zimmer's interview goes well.
Zimmer, 56, signed a three-year contract extension with the Bengals last year. He previously served seven years as defensive coordinator with the Cowboys and one with the Falcons. He won a Super Bowl in 1995 as secondary coach in Dallas.