New Falcons head coach Bobby Petrino has made his second hire in coaxing current Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer to lead the Falcons defense. The first hire Petrino made was naming Bengals assistant Hue Jackson as his offensive coordinator.
Zimmer has been the Cowboys coordinator for the past seven seasons. The best year for the Cowboys under his leadership came in 2003, in which the ‘Boys defensed ranked first in the league. This past year, the Cowboy defense ranked 13th.
Although under coach Bill Parcells, the Cowboys have utilized a 3-4 base defense, Petrino has indicated his preference for a 4-3 scheme. Zimmer coordinated a 4-3 unit his first three years in Dallas before Parcells took over, and is expected to continue the use of the 4-3 in Atlanta.
Zimmer has been with the Cowboys since 1994, where he was brought in as a defensive assitant to then head coach Barry Switzer. He was promoted to defensive backs coach the following year and began coordinating the Cowboys defense in 2000.
Zimmer and Petrino were part of a Weber State staff together in the late 80s. Petrino was an assistant there in 1984, 1987, and 1988, while Zimmer served there from 1981-88. At Weber State, Zimmer held defensive coordinator position but also had duties coaching both inside linebackers and defensive backs. In 1989, he moved on to Washington State, where he spent five years as their defensive coordinator.
The 50 year old Peoria, IL native had an interesting start to his career. Zimmer began his collegiate playing career at Illinois State as a quarterback, before moving to linebacker as a junior.