Mike Zimmer had been an also-ran for so many NFL head coaching positions that he almost declined a second interview in Minnesota, exasperated by being passed over for yet another top job.
The best fits in life can take time to transpire.
Not quite three years into his first chance to be in charge, Zimmer has quickly proven his qualifications after waiting until age 57 for the opportunity. Zimmer has the Vikings so enmeshed with his defiant, demanding and direct personality that it’s difficult to imagine either one without the other anymore.
“I think your team does that naturally with a coach, good or bad. He embodies this football team,” linebacker Chad Greenway said, “and we obviously respond to him.”
Inheriting in 2014 a defense that yielded the most points and the second-most yards in the league the season before, Zimmer helped raise those rankings to 11th and 14th in his first year. The Vikings finished 7-9 while learning his aggressive, creative scheme.
In 2015, they were fifth and 13th respectively, while stepping in front of favorite and four-time defending division champion Green Bay to win the NFC North at 11-5.