As the Buccaneers coaching search wears on and names are crossed off the list, both by the Bucs and other teams hiring potential candidates, one name that continues to come up is Cincinnati Bengals’ defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.
Zimmer is a highly sought after coaching candidate with some impressive credentials and a strong personality. To many Bucs fans he’s exactly what this organization needs, a to-the-point defensive coach who will stress accountability and professionalism.
Unfortunately, while many in Tampa may really want Mike Zimmer, Zimmer might not really want the Bucs.
Now before I go any further I need to preface this with several things, the first of which is the fact that this is just an opinion. The second of which is that I’m not necessarily hoping that this actually is the case and the third is that behind Rob Chudzinski, I’d love to see Zimmer be the Bucs’ next head coach.
I’m just not sure Zimmer wants to see that, and it’s his call.
Let’s look at the coaching search so far. Zimmer has had a few interviews, most notably with the Buccaneers and Dolphins. The Dolphins loved Zimmer, I’m not sure he wasn’t their front-runner after Jeff Fisher chose the Rams, but his interview did not go well.
Now there’s a lot to parse when it comes to the details of Zimmer’s interview, but according to the Miami Herald, he rubbed the Dolphins the wrong way with his directness and was ultimately removed from consideration.
Zimmer has a reputation around the league as being more than a little blunt, for instance when Bobby Petrino quit on the Falcons to go coach Arkansas for instance he shirked political correctness and called him a “gutless bastard.”
If you read between the lines, you can probably guess that Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland and owner Stephen Ross didn’t like hearing from Zimmer how poor a job he thought they had done in some aspects of their own leadership. You can tell they weren’t over it on Saturday either, because a week after it happened at the press conference where the team introduced Joe Philbin (the coach they did end up hiring) Stephen Ross took special care to indicate that one of the six candidates the team interviewed didn’t want the job.
That would be Zimmer.
Normally NFL teams play those kinds of incidents close to the vest. This is one instance where the sheer lack of professionalism that the Miami Dolphins are run with gives us a keen insight into the process though.
Remember, Miami is the team whose GM is famous for asking Dez Bryant if his mother was a prostitute. This is an organization that will fly cross-country on a clandestine coaching interview (in a jet that looks like this no less, very subtle) before they’ve fired the old head coach. My point is, it’s not surprising the Dolphins let slip that Zimmer was kind of an ass during his interview. Not one bit.
Here’s where this relates to the Buccaneers.
For all the ways that the Miami Dolphins are a circus at times, they are not a bad organization. Frankly, they’re still in the top five all-time for franchise winning percentage in any American professional sport (not just football), they have some impressive history and they have an owner who will spend money.
Say what you want about Stephen Ross, but he’s the league’s second richest owner and he is will to spend a lot of his money to win. He paid Bill Parcells the past two season despite Parcells not even working for the Dolphins anymore. He paid for one of the NFL’s most expensive coaching staffs. He’s paid for players too and he’s going to continue to pay out the ear to build Miami into a winner.
He may not spend smart, but he does spend and he’s going to make sure whatever coach he hires is supported.
Zimmer wasn’t into that.
A defensive-minded head coach had a chance to take over a top 10 defense (6th in scoring, 3rd vs. rush) and work under an owner who is going to spend a lot of money on his coaching staff and on players, and he wasn’t into it.
Why would he want this Tampa job?
The defense in Tampa is no where near the caliber of the one in Miami, the offense aside from having a QB is a mess and the owners are cheap.
And before we get into the inevitable debate about whether the Bucs will spend this offseason I’ll just ask what precedent you’ve ever seen to make you confident that will happen? The CBA doens’t require teams to be at the salary cap minimum until 2013. The team didn’t spend any of it’s money last year except to sign a 20 million dollar punter.
And the point remains, the Bucs don’t have to convince its fans they are going to spend anyways, they have to convince Mike Zimmer. And based on his demeanor in Miami that’s a tough sell.
My point is this, every day that passes more candidates come off the board and more teams get close to ending their own coaching searches. Zimmer was in for an interview in the middle of last week and there doesn’t seem to be any news about a follow-up yet.
That’s not a good sign.
The Bucs may really want Mike Zimmer.
I’m not so sure Mike Zimmer wants the Bucs.