Toward the end of what may be Vic Fangio’s final meeting with the media at Halas Hall, there was this enjoyable exchange between him and Dan Jiggetts regarding Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer.
Jiggetts: “It took him a long time to get an opportunity. Guys with gray hair don’t seem to get those opportunities anymore.”
Fangio: “Especially if they’re not coaching offense.”
The 61-year-old Zimmer, whose Vikings have been locked into a playoff spot for weeks, is an anomaly in a sense: He’s a lifetime defensive assistant who didn’t get his first head coaching job until he was 57. But in a coaching landscape in which head coaching hires can tend to be younger and offensive-minded, Zimmer's had plenty of success, winning two NFC North titles in four years in Minneapolis.
What the Vikings have done offensively in 2017 is outstanding, too. They’re 10th in points per game (23.9) and are 7th in offensive DVOA, and have hit those marks without their first- and second-string quarterbacks (Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater), and without their first-choice running back (Dalvin Cook), either. And that’s with, again, a so-called defensive-minded coach at the helm.
So as the Bears all but certainly begin looking for their next head coach next week, keep Zimmer’s success in mind. The “right” coach for Mitchell Trubisky and this franchise doesn’t have to be a young offensive mind; it very well could be a veteran defensive coordinator who has good organizational skills and hires the right offensive coordinator for the job.
“He’s done a great job,” Fangio said of Zimmer. “Mike’s been a coordinator in the league for a while. Finally got his opportunity was qualified and capable, and Minnesota recognized that and didn’t worry about where he came from or what his playoff success had been; they just knew they were getting a good football coach. Ultimately that’s what you want in your head coach – a leader and a good football coach. Mike’s been that for a long time and been able to continue that as a head coach.”