Editor's Note, by Brian Galliford: This is the first in a series of reports on potential 2010 head coaching candidates for the Buffalo Bills. Yes, I realize that we should be looking at GM candidates first; rest assured we'll be doing that as the season draws to a close. For now, MRW gets things started off for us this morning by taking a look at Minnesota defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. End Note
One of the hottest coordinator names being thrown around as potential head coaches has been Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. It seems that ever since he took over for Mike Tomlin, his name has been popping up any time a coaching vacancy is to be filled.
Frazier's playing career as a defensive back for the Chicago Bears was shortened by a knee injury, but he made the most of it. In 1985, Frazier injured his knee returning a kick in the Super Bowl. During that season, he led the team with six interceptions and was a member of the dance line in the Super Bowl Shuffle.
After he couldn't come back from his knee injury, Frazier became the first head coach in Trinity College (now Trinity International University) history. He held the position for nine seasons and built the NAIA program from the ground up, winning a pair of Northern Illinois Intercollegiate Conference titles in the process. He then moved on to the University of Illinois in 1997 as the Illini's defensive backs coach.
Following two season at Illinois, he joined Andy Reid's first staff in Philadelphia under defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. In 2003, he accepted the job of defensive coordinator on Marvin Lewis' first staff in Cincinnati. He left in 2005 to join Indianapolis as Special Assistant to the Head Coach (Tony Dungy) and defensive backs coach, where he won a Super Bowl ring. According to BigBlueShoe, SB Nation's head Colts blogger at Stampede Blue, "Frazier takes after Dungy in temperament and philosophy."
Two days after the Colts' victory over the Bears, Frazier accepted his current job with the Vikings, replacing Mike Tomlin.
As defensive coordinator, Frazier has experience working with the Tampa 2 (Indianapolis) and the Cover 2 (Philadelphia and Minnesota). That's a positive in that Buffalo's entire defense wouldn't need to be revamped. Yes, some of the positions need to be upgraded, but it would be much less disruptive than switching to a 3-4 alignment. In 2008, the Vikings became the first team since the NFL/AFL merger to lead the league in rushing yards allowed for three consecutive seasons. That could be a major improvement for the Bills, who have ranked in the bottom ten each season since 2005. Frazier also likes to blitz a lot to create pressure up the middle, which can be attributed to his time in Philadelphia under Jim Johnson.
The Bills' biggest problems haven't been on defense, they've been on offense. If I'm hiring a coach, I want one who has developed a quarterback or hires an offensive coordinator who has done that. Frazier hasn't worked with anybody that would leave their current job to come work in Buffalo to develop Trent Edwards, Brian Brohm, or a rookie quarterback.
What Others Are Saying
Don Banks recently placed Frazier's name among the likes of Mike Shanahan and Bill Cowher in his list of potential new head coaches for 2010. In the past two years, he has interviewed in Miami, St. Louis, Denver, and Detroit, and his defense continues to play well, increasing the likelihood he is hired away in the near future.
Gonzo, from the Vikings SBN blog the Daily Norseman, had this to say when the Broncos were searching for their next coach.
Frazier, by all accounts, is a great motivator and rarely fails to have his team prepared for an opponent. As much as I would hate to see my team lose him, I think he's very deserving of a shot as a head coach in the NFL.
I asked BigBlueShoe what he had to say about Frazier:
[I see him fitting in] on two fronts: One, Frazier is a very talented coach who comes from the Tony Dungy school of thought. He treats players like men, not children. He will hold players accountable but he does so in a respectful manner. Players appreciate this and rave about him wherever he goes. Two, Frazier is schooled in Tampa-2. This means Buffalo does not have to overhaul the talent on the defense.