On Monday morning, reports surfaced that the Washington Redskins have reached out to the Cincinnati Bengals requesting to interview offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. While Gruden is certainly an attractive option and is in high demand, going after Zimmer is the better move for the Redskins.
While it’s obvious that the Redskins want an offensive-minded coach that can come in and elevate Robert Griffin III‘s ability as a quarterback, that isn’t what they need in a head coach. Defensively, they were as bad as ever in 2013 after giving up 354.1 yards per game (18th in the NFL) and 29.9 points per game (31st in the NFL). They have the tools offensively — they just need to properly use them. Defensively, they need a complete overhaul.
That’s what makes Zimmer such an attractive option as a head coach. In 2000, he got his first job as a defensive coordinator with the Dallas Cowboys. In 2007, he held the same position with the Atlanta Falcons. He then landed in Cincinnati in January of 2009 with the same job. He’s done his time as a coordinator and he’s ready to take the next step and become a head coach.
His experience also comes with results. Since becoming the defensive coordinator of the Bengals in 2009, his defense has been a perennial top-10 unit in the NFL. This past season, they were third in total yards given up per game (305.5), fifth in rushing yards allowed per game (96.5), fifth in passing yards given up per game (209) and fifth in points given up per game (19.1). He’s put together a mean machine in Cincy that has been one of the NFL’s best defenses every year.
Another positive is his background working with defensive backs. Before being elevated to the defensive coordinator for the Cowboys, he served as the team’s defensive backs coach from 1994 to 1999. In the late 1980s, he served as the defensive backs coach for Washington State. The secondary for the Redskins played poorly last season and needs help.
It looks as though the Redskins are more than likely going after an offensive-minded coach that can develop Griffin. However, it is a defensive-minded coach that they truly need, and Zimmer would be a good fit.