ESPN Cleveland - Cleveland Browns, 850 AM & 1540 AM
ESPN Cleveland - Ohion State, 850 AM & 1540 AM

Bengals' defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer may not tell the Browns what they want to hear, which is good

Jan 09, 2013 -- 1:30pm


By Tony Grossi

Extra Points …

The search picks up: The current phase of the Browns’ coaching search involves assistant coaches not currently involved in the playoffs.

These include current CFL Montreal head coach Marc Trestman (done), ex-Browns and current Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski (Wednesday), ex-Browns and current Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians (soon), and Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer (Wednesday).

In this group, Zimmer sticks out for a few reasons. He is the only defensive coach. He is an integral coach with a division rival. His record as a coordinator is exemplary

And his personality is the exact opposite of the comparatively mild-mannered men in his company.

Shooting straight, right between the eyes: Zimmer is a straight shooter, abrasive at times, and that doesn’t always win him style points in interviews.

Zimmer was Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator when Bobby Petrino abandoned the team in 2007 with three games to go to take the head coach job at Arkansas. When Zimmer’s Bengals played the Falcons three years later, the episode was revisited by reporters. Zimmer’s expletive-laced diatribe against Petrino was a classic.

Zimmer called Petrino a coward and said he ruined “a bunch of people’s lives” for not finishing the season.

“He’s a gutless (expletive). Quote that. I don’t give a (expletive),” Zimmer said.

It made for great copy. It may have rubbed some owners the wrong way. But it was pure, unfiltered Zimmer. He is a coach, not a politican.

Last alphabetically, and more: Zimmer interviewed for head coach jobs last year with Tampa Bay and Miami. Neither called him back. For a while, he was regarded as a prime contender in Dallas because he made a mark as Bill Parcells’ defensive coach the last time the Cowboys were relevant. But Jerry Jones never called.

After doing another fine job with the Bengals this season – they ranked sixth overall in the defensive rankings – nobody called him until the Browns this week.

On Monday, Zimmer was made available to the Cincinnati media. Here is a transcript account of a portion of it.

Question: Have you heard from any clubs?

Zimmer: No.

Reporter follow-up: That would seem to me rather (expletive) amazing.

Zimmer: Can you write that? You do if I say it.

In December, prior to the Bengals’ home game against the Cowboys, Zimmer revealed how driven he is to become an NFL head coach.

Question: Did you ever think you’d be head coach of the Cowboys?

Zimmer: Some other people did. I thought I’d be a head coach somewhere. Honestly, I don’t listen to that stuff anymore. Honest to God’s truth. I’ve had for so many years have people say, “This is your year.” Then at the end of the year for about three days I’m totally depressed because I see this guy get a job, that guy get a job. So it’s in my best interest not to think about it, talk about it and just try to do the best job I can because I’m like (everybody else). I get disappointed, too.”

Question: Do you have a chip … ?

Zimmer: I always have a chip on my shoulder. When don’t I?

Question: Were the two (interviews after 2011) more disappointing?

Zimmer: Not any more than any others. I always thought people wanted coaches that can coach and I think I can coach. Obviously, there’s probably some more that goes into it, but when you say what do you want in a coach -- Somebody to get these guys to do what they’re supposed to do when they’re supposed to do it. Play real hard, don’t make mistakes.

Browns fans shouldn’t confuse Zimmer’s bluntness with Rob Ryan’s bluster. Zimmer’s teams get results.

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi


Return to: Grossi Stories Blog


(216) 578-0850
(216) 523-1540


WKNR Weekly Schedule           KRN2 Weekly Schedule