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Cowboys hiring former Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer as their defensive coordinator

Mike Zimmer is back in the NFL -- and back where it all began.

Dallas is hiring Zimmer, a former head coach for the Minnesota Vikings and a longtime Cowboys assistant, to be its new defensive coordinator, NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported. 

Zimmer has emerged from a high-profile list of interviewees that also included former Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera and former New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan. 

Zimmer has long been known for leading hard-nosed defenses and his gritty approach to coaching, something that should lend perfectly to replacing Dan Quinn, who went on to become the Commanders HC after three seasons leading a top-five scoring defense in Dallas.

Following a two-year hiatus, that will be Zimmer's mantle to pick up.

He served as the Vikings' head coach from 2014-2021, five times constructing a top-10 scoring defense and going to the playoffs on three occasions during his eight-year tenure, with one ill-fated trip to the NFC Championship Game.

Zimmer was fired with a 72-56-1 career record following an 8-9 season.

He spent five of those years in Minnesota coaching against one of his new bosses, Mike McCarthy, who at the time was with the Green Bay Packers. Although both won the division twice in their time competing for the NFC North, Zimmer holds the edge with a 5-4-1 head-to-head record during that span.

The 67-year-old Zimmer also spent the 2007 season coordinating Atlanta's defense and served as the Bengals' DC from 2008-2013, but on the heels of 15 years in the college ranks starting as a 23-year-old assistant in 1979, it was Dallas where he began his NFL coaching career.

Zimmer started out as an assistant coach for the Cowboys in 1994 and was promoted to defensive backs coach for the 1995 season, the last of their three Super Bowl campaigns during the decade.

He served in that role through the 1999 season, after which he earned the nod as Dallas' defensive coordinator for the first time -- a role he held for seven years.

The Cowboys twice had a scoring defense in the top four in the NFL under Zimmer, including a 2003 campaign that saw them top the league in points allowed and finish second in yardage.

His final year there, 2006, was also Bill Parcells' NFL swan song.

All in all, Zimmer spent 13 years with Dallas, enduring three head coaching changes to serve on the staffs of Barry Switzer, Chan Gailey, Dave Campo and Parcells.

Now he's set to work under a fifth Cowboys head coach, as McCarthy and Zimmer put their NFC North rivalry aside with sights set on ruling the NFC East together.

There's a litany of superstars on the defense to help do so, including Micah Parsons, Trevon Diggs, DaRon Bland and Demarcus Lawrence.

After years apart and a couple years out of the NFL for Zimmer, there's a homecoming in Dallas -- one the two parties hope will result in a return to the Super Bowl glory that marked the beginning years of his first stretch there.

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