By the end of the season, there could be as many as a half-dozen head-coaching jobs available this winter. Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is as qualified as any to get one of them.
Frazier, the former Vikings head coach, has led the Bills to be one of the most consistent units on either side of the ball in all of football over the past half-decade. They’ve had a top-five scoring defense in three of the past four years. In 2021, the Bills had the top-ranked defense in scoring and yards. This season they’re giving up the fourth-fewest points and 10th-fewest yards.
“I’m still amazed that a guy like ‘Fraz’ throughout these last few years has not taken the step to be a head coach,” Bills All-Pro safety Micah Hyde tells CBS Sports this week. “I understand this is a business, and I don’t ask him questions about it, but I’m dumbfounded that he’s not been considered as a head coach. I feel like he brings a different dynamic as a former player and a guy that has been around this league for a long time.”
When asking around the league about Frazier, the first two points people will make about him are about his character and leadership. “Not a nicer man in the NFL,” one source said. Another said he has an “outstanding blend of urgency and poise.”
Hyde seemed to echo the latter point.
“To be honest Fraz is Fraz man. He’s the same guy,” Hyde said. “Whether we blow a team out by 40 or we get beat by 40, he’s literally the same guy the next day. That’s the best thing that I want to see coming in on Monday is a coach that is never too high and never too low.
“To have a guy like Fraz that is defensive coordinator and runs the defensive ship, whenever we come in Monday he shoots us straight and from there it’s about getting better.”
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Frazier, who politely declined an interview request for this story to focus on the season at hand, had a six-year playing career with the Bears in the ’80s as a defensive back. He worked his way through the coaching ranks and landed in Minnesota in 2007 as their defensive coordinator. He took over as interim coach for the fired Brad Childress in 2010 and was named the permanent head coach shortly after.
He went 21-32-1 in his three years at the helm, which was highlighted by a 10-6 2012 season. But the Vikings struggled to land a franchise quarterback during those years, and Frazier’s defenses struggled as the league seemed to catch up to the concepts stemming from the Tampa-2 tree.
He joined Sean McDermott in Buffalo in 2017, reuniting the two from their days in Philadelphia on Andy Reid’s staff. Though McDermott also has a defensive background, he’s been quick to give credit to Frazier for the defense’s successes.
“I’m super proud of those guys, but let me just make sure I’m clear here; Leslie Frazier runs the defense and I want to give credit where credit is due,” McDermott told reporters last season. “This is not Sean McDermott’s defense; this is Leslie’s defense, and those defensive coaches and players have done a phenomenal job.”
Frazier has entrusted the pass rush to Eric Washington, who will likely be considered this cycle for defensive coordinator positions himself. The Bills have the ninth-best pressure rate in the league despite blitzing at the eight-lowest rate in the league. That’s allowed Frazier to call whatever defense he desires, and he’s focused on takeaways.
Buffalo’s 13 interceptions are third-most in the league this year. Since Frazier took over in 2017, only the New England Patriots have more interceptions (108) than the Bills (95).
“He always talks about the football and always talks about catching the ball,” said Hyde, who’s been with Frazier since the beginning in Buffalo in 2017. “In practice he’s always pulling guys aside and throwing footballs at them. Catching them from different angles, turning their heads real quick, throwing low balls and high balls.
“I’ve watched guys over the last six years that were PBU guys turn into guys that take the ball away. Tre’Davious [White], his rookie year he started off being a PBU guy. He had some picks and big plays, but once you hone in on catching the football, it totally changes your game. Obviously Tre’Davious is a hell of a player and athlete so it helps, but that’s just one example of one guy that I feel like Fraz has helped take that step in his career and helped this defense.”
Last year the Bears, Giants and Dolphins all interviewed Frazier for their top job before going with other candidates. He previously interviewed with the Texans in 2021 and the Colts in 2018. Should Frazier earn a head job this offseason, he’d be just the 10th Black permanent coach in NFL history to lead two different franchises.
This content was originally published here.