It's one of the biggest mysteries in the NFL. Why hasn't Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer been hired as a head coach yet?
It seems like almost every year since the Bengals hired him back in 2008, Zimmer's name has surfaced as a possible candidate for head coaching vacancies. He has the resume. He has the admiration of his players. Yet, in just the past two years alone, he has been turned down by three teams seeking a new head coach. So what exactly is Zimmer missing?
On Tuesday, at the NFL's Career Development Symposium, he finally got some answers.
"They talked about having confidence in your ability, and you can't be shy about it: 'Is this what you really want to do?'" Zimmer said. "One of the things Mr. Mara said was some people, when they get hired, they were satisfied because they finally reached the pinnacle. And then there are some people — and I feel like this is me — I still have a chip on my shoulder. All these other people kept getting these jobs, and now I'm getting this job. But I'm not done yet. I still have that chip on my shoulder."
The problem for Zimmer, however, is that sometimes his confidence and his "chip on his shoulder" mentality come across as arrogant or brash. After all, this is the same guy who once declared during an interview for a head coaching position, "You know what, someone's going to give me a chance, and 31 other teams are going to be upset about it." So is this boldness the thing that was preventing Zimmer from getting his dream job?
Not necessarily, according to the owners and GM's speaking at the symposium. Confidence is important and bluntness is encouraged. But the key is to show these traits without coming off as cocksure, something Zimmer admittedly struggles with.
Armed with this new feedback, Zimmer is one step closer to landing a job as a head coach--a bittersweet thought for most Bengals' fans. In a dream world, Zimmer would remain with the Bengals, serving as the heir apparent to Marvin Lewis. In reality, though, the head coach spot is Lewis' for as long as he wants it. He's Mike Brown's guy and Brown has already shown that he'll stick with him through thick and thin. Most likely, Zimmer will eventually move on from Cincinnati. Some team will finally realize what a talent he is and he will probably go on to have a very successful head coaching career.
Such is the way of things in the NFL.