FRISCO, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys have settled on a coaching reunion by deciding to bring back Mike Zimmer as defensive coordinator to replace Dan Quinn.
Zimmer is rejoining the Cowboys 18 years after serving in the same role for Dallas. He later spent eight years as Minnesota’s head coach. The Cowboys and Zimmer reached an agreement Monday.
The Cowboys had an opening after Quinn accepted the head coaching job in Washington. Quinn replaced Ron Rivera, one of the coaches Dallas interviewed to take over for Quinn.
Quinn spent three seasons with the Cowboys, quickly turning around one of the worst defenses in franchise history after Mike Nolan was fired following one season with coach Mike McCarthy.
The 67-year-old Zimmer spent 14 years as a defensive coordinator before taking over the Vikings in 2014. The first seven of those seasons were with the Cowboys before one in Atlanta and six with Cincinnati.
Zimmer’s debut as defensive coordinator in Dallas was 2000, the first of three 5-11 seasons under former coach Dave Campo. Zimmer remained on the staff after Bill Parcells was hired, and the Cowboys made the playoffs twice in the next four seasons.
McCarthy will be the fifth Cowboys coach that Zimmer will work for, having been on the staffs of Barry Switzer and Chan Gailey as a defensive assistant before his first stint as a coordinator.
The Bengals reached the postseason four times in Zimmer’s six years, and he led Minnesota to the playoffs in three of his eight seasons. He has been out of the NFL since being fired by the Vikings with an overall record of 72-56-1 following the 2021 season, their second losing season in a row.
Zimmer has a history with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones going back to 1994, when he joined the staff. He was in his first season as Dallas’ defensive backs coach when the franchise won the last of its five Super Bowl titles to cap the 1995 season.
McCarthy, the former Green Bay coach, and Zimmer are familiar with each other from their days as opposing head coaches in the NFC North. They overlapped from 2014 until McCarthy was fired during the 2018 season.
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