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Mike Zimmer A Rare Breed Among NFL Coaches

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

We know that Mike Zimmer is a different sort of coach. Not just for the way he handles his players or the media or things of that nature, but because of the responsibility that he takes on the Minnesota Vikings' sideline.

According to Ben Goessling of, Zimmer is now one of just ten NFL head coaches (out of 32) that calls his own plays. Now, when people hear "calls his own plays," they generally assume we're talking about offensive plays, but that's what sets Zimmer apart even further.

Zimmer is one of just two NFL head coaches that calls his team's defensive plays, with the other being new Buffalo Bills' head coach Rex Ryan. Ryan performed those duties while he was head coach of the New York Jets and will continue to do so in upstate New York.

There are eight other coaches that call their own plays, but they all do so on the offensive side of the ball. New coaches Jim Tomsula (49ers) and Dan Quinn (Falcons) are defensive guys, but have not made it clear whether or not they will call the defenses for their teams as the head coach.

Under Zimmer's watchful eye, the Vikings were vastly improved in nearly every measurable defensive category. To be honest, I'm not sure if it was Leslie Frazier or Alan Williams that was calling the defense in the season before Zimmer got to town, but honestly. . .whoever it was seems to have been really bad at it.

As Goessling points out, having a long-time veteran like Norv Turner to handle the offensive side of things allowed Zimmer the piece of mind to place his focus on the defense, and it paid big dividends in his first season in Minnesota. While some coaches have recently decided that calling plays is too much for them to handle, Zimmer seems like the kind of guy that will hold on to that responsibility for as long as he is able. If the defense continues to take strides, I certainly hope that's the case.