“Great news. We've got the main dude back. I can't wait to get it going again. I'm happy for him because he said he wanted to come back and the reason he wanted to come back was because he loved us and he didn't want to have to start all over again" admitted defensive tackle Domata Peko.
Mike Brown approached Zimmer this past week with a significantly better offer than previous ones made over the past several months. While the numbers of the three-year extension are not fully known, we can safely assume Zimmer is the highest-paid Bengals assistant coach to date.
“Mike [Brown] came up a long ways and [the Bengals] showed that they wanted me to stay,” Zimmer said. “I wanted to remain here, but I was also prepared to do what I needed to do.” Zimmer was considered a candidate to be hired as defensive coordinator for both the Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins.
"I am very excited to have Mike back, coaching our players and directing our defensive staff," Lewis said in a statement issued Tuesday. "The continuity factor with what we've done, and how we plan to keep improving, is huge. Mike has the ability to see situations front-to-back, every step and every detail, and he's tremendous at calling the game on Sundays."
This season has in no way been an easy one for Zimmer. On Oct. 8, 2009, Vikki Zimmer, Mike Zimmer’s wife, passed away suddenly. The two were married for 27 years and had three children together: daughters Corri and Marki, and son Adam, the assistant linebackers coach for the Saints.
While Zimmer will remain the defensive coordinator for the Bengals, his first and most important job is to be a father to his three children.
With the loss to the Jets on Jan. 9, Zimmer has been able to take some personal time to visit his two daughters in Dallas. While the family continues to have good and bad days, it is clear the Bengals will be here to support him every step of the way.
“If you’re looking for an MVP, what about Zim?” asked Bengals middle linebacker Dhani Jones. “He had the greatest loss of his life and he still stood by us and gave us everything he had, keeping his passion and his focus, and making us better players and better people.”
Zimmer, was not the only Bengal to be re-signed; Rey Maualuga was also re-signed after completing his first season with the team. “They did a good job re-signing him,” Maualuga said. “I couldn’t imagine being coached by any another defensive coordinator. I know it’s only my first year, but the passion he brings and how he teaches, it’s beyond crazy. With his attitude and our defense’s attitude, it’s a match.”
Zimmer would also like to re-sign Roy Williams and Tank Johnson, and the chances look good.
Zimmer admitted that having to reteach his defense to a new team, new players, and having to relearn an entire organization was a large factor in deciding to stay. But it won't be a walk in the park.
“We need to get guys healthy, but we need to play better, too,” Zimmer said. “I was really disappointed in how we rushed the passer at the end, and we’re going to have to emphasize that again, like we did last offseason. We need more good players—pressure players and cover players. You can never have enough defensive linemen and cornerbacks.”
Zimmer’s defense is built around hard-working guys that play good team defense.
Prior to Zimmer's tenure, the Bengals finished the 2007 season ranked 27th in yards allowed. In Zimmer's first season with the Bengals, he has made great progress with the defense, improving to 12th in 2008 and fourth in the 2009 season.
During the 2009 regular season, the team allowed an average of 301.4 yards per game and ranked sixth for points allowed per game, with 18.4.
In 2008, Zimmer was recommended to head coach Marvin Lewis by former Bengals receivers coach Hue Jackson; Zimmer and Jackson had worked together briefly in 2007 for the Falcons.
Prior to Zimmer’s time with the Falcons, he coached in Dallas for 13 seasons, the last seven as the Cowboys' defensive coordinator. The 2010 season will be Zimmer’s 11th consecutive year as an NFL defensive coordinator.