Mike Zimmer Won’t ‘Reinvent The Wheel’ As New Cowboys Coach – But What About Penalties & ‘Discipline’?

New Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer isn’t interested in a complete overhaul on defense, instead adding what he’s learned over the journey to help the unit become the best it can be.


The Dallas Cowboys have a new defensive coordinator in Mike Zimmer .. but “new” doesn’t mean he has no plans to detonate what has been built defensively by now-Washington Commanders head coach Dan Quinn.


“We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here,” Zimmer said in his Wednesday introductory presser at The Star. “I mean, they’ve been pretty good.”


With Zimmer now taking over a defense from Quinn that ranked first in takeaways in 2021 and 2022 and had a knack of sacking quarterbacks (ranked 14th in ’21 and ’23, 4th in 22), it is no surprise that Zimmer isn’t about to throw about what has been built already.


Instead, he is more focused on developing a scheme that brings out the players’ talents while also hammering home the want to be a disciplined unit at all times.


“We’re going to look at the players, try and figure out the best way to use them, put the scheme together and we want to take the good things they’ve done, maybe add a few more other things that we’ve done good in the past and try to make this thing manageable,” he said. “We’re disciplined and we’re well-coached, play together as a team, we try to make sure everybody understands their role so that other people on the field can have success doing their job.”



During his time with the Minnesota Vikings, Zimmer’s defenses were well-known for being tough to play against. In his eight years, Zimmer’s defenses in five straight seasons ranked inside the top 10 for points allowed (1st in 2017, 15.8/g) and also ranked inside the top 10 in sacks five times.


But perhaps the biggest thing that Zimmer will bring to Dallas is discipline.


It is no secret that the Cowboys have been one of the most penalized teams over the last couple of seasons, and defensively, while the unit only accounted for 50 of the team’s 121 penalties this past season, it was the timing of them.



Drives that were extended due to holds, silly offsides, or roughing penalties are what caused Cowboys fans to tear their hair out … but under Zimmer, his defenses have a track record of limiting the laundry.


Across eight seasons, Zimmer’s defenses six times were inside the top 10 for least-penalized teams and were the least penalized (2015) and the second least penalized team in the NFL (2018). 


That’s the kind of discipline that Cowboy nation craves and in Zimmer, who practices sound, fundamental football, perhaps the laundry will be kept in the referee’s pockets more often than not.



His track record speaks for itself and going by Zimmer’s words, he won’t be changing a lot on defense, instead refining it and adding his unique flavor, which fans hope will be an increased focus that will see far fewer self-inflicted wounds.


Head coach Mike McCarthy called Zimmer in Dallas an “incredible fit” and based on his resume and early impressions, it’s hard to argue otherwise.



Gideon Canice

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