New report reveals unknown details about Mike Zimmer returning to Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer
Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer / Adam Bettcher/GettyImages

After spending the last two seasons away from the NFL, former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer is back in the league this year as the Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator.

This is Zimmer's second stint as the Cowboys defensive coordinator, as the 68-year-old also held the same position with the team between 2000 and 2006. During the upcoming season, Zimmer will be attempting to make sure Dallas's defense still remains among the NFL's best after the team finished the 2023 campaign ranked fifth in points allowed with Dan Quinn as the defensive coordinator.

To many, Zimmer seemed like a logical choice to take over as the Cowboys defensive coordinator, given his history with the franchise. But a new report recently revealed that the former Vikings head coach actually wasn't at the top of Dallas's list of candidates to replace Quinn.

New details emerge about how former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer landed back with the Dallas Cowboys

After Quinn left his role with the Cowboys to become the new head coach of the Washington Commanders earlier this year, Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy apparently already had a candidate in mind to become the team's new defensive coordinator, and it wasn't Zimmer.

Recently, The Dallas Morning News' Calvin Watkins shared some new details about how Zimmer eventually wound up becoming the guy to replace Quinn.

"Before Zimmer was hired, McCarthy sought to replace Quinn, who left to become the head coach in Washington, with Joe Whitt Jr., the Cowboys’ secondary/defensive passing game coordinator. Whitt worked 11 years with McCarthy in Green Bay before coming to Dallas in 2020. It seemed logical for the Cowboys to promote Whitt.

[But] Jerry Jones wanted someone with more experience, particularly a former head coach, and talked up Zimmer, a former defensive coordinator with the Cowboys and former head coach in Minnesota.

...McCarthy [eventually] signed off on hiring Zimmer for the defensive coordinator spot, and Whitt ended up leaving to take the same position with Washington.

With the success that the Cowboys had last season under Quinn, McCarthy felt that promoting someone like Joe Whitt Jr. to continue running a similar scheme would have been the best way for the defense to maintain its high level of play in 2023.

But, as Watkins mentioned, Whitt has never been a defensive coordinator in the NFL before, and Dallas owner/general manager Jerry Jones preferred to hire someone who had previously been in charge of an NFL defense.

Zimmer has always been someone that Jones has has admired ever since the former Minnesota head coach first parted with the Cowboys in 2007. So, it shouldn't come as a surprise that Zimmer was Jones's top choice to replace Quinn.

With the former Vikings head coach not being McCarthy's first choice to be Dallas's new defensive coordinator, it will be interesting to see if this results in any significant disagreements between the two during the upcoming season.

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