Head coaches in the NFL know that they're never safe. Even guys like Bill Belichick know that they could be on the street if they stop having success for an extended period of time. The position of head coach in the NFL is more of a revolving door than any other.
Because of that, Owners and general managers are always on a constant lookout for talent around the league and from outside the league. CBSSports.com senior writer Pete Prisco has 10 potential candidates of possible future NFL head coaches, and on that list is Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.
Mike Zimmer, defensive coordinator, Cincinnati Bengals: At some point, he will get his chance to be a head coach. Zimmer has been close, but never quite got the job. He is one of the better defensive coaches in the league. There was some talk that he was the Cowboys coach in waiting, but that turned out to be Jason Garrett. The Bengals were fourth in total defense in 2009, but slipped to 15th last season in part because of injuries. Zimmer should get them back on track this season. If he does, he will get in the mix again.
Zimmer signed a three-year contract extension with the Bengals that keeps him on the staff through 2012. Many thought that Zimmer would be in line to be the Bengals next head coach before it was announced that Marvin Lewis would be coming back.
In his three years with the Bengals, his defense has averaged a tenth ranked defense, his best year being 2009 when they were ranked at No. 4 and his worst year was 2010 when they were ranked at No. 15.
If Marvin Lewis can't bring the Bengals back to where Mike Brown wants them, he could be shown the door within the next season or two and Zimmer could be handed the reins. Zimmer could also be lured by another team who has decided that they want a new head coach. Either way, I believe it's a safe assumption that he won't be the Bengals defensive coordinator forever. Coaches like that don't stay in a assistant role for long.