The Chicago Bears have requested to interview Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier for their head coaching opening, per reports. Chicago fired their general manager and head coach on Monday. Frazier is the only announced candidate at this point, but Chicago doesn’t have a GM in place either, which makes all the timing a bit odd.
Frazier is not required to interview this week as the Bills prepare for the New England Patriots in Wild Card weekend. If the Bills win next weekend, the Bears could come to Western New York and interview Frazier or do so virtually in the days after the team advances. Buffalo gets to dictate when the interview takes place if they advance. After that, he can’t be interviewed again until after the Conference Championship game. He can’t be hired until the Bills are eliminated from the playoffs or win the Super Bowl.
Frazier is a Bears legend, who played for the Monsters of the Midway defense in the mid-1980s. He was injured returning a punt in Super Bowl XX, tearing his ACL, PCL, and MCL along with suffering a broken bone under his kneecap. He never played professionally again.
He joined the coaching ranks a few years later, working his way up through a few years in college to join the Philadelphia Eagles’ coaching staff of Andy Reid in 1999 as defensive backs coach. He was defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals from 2003 to 2004 before joining the Indianapolis Colts under Tony Dungy from 2005 to 2006. After three years and change as the defensive coordinator in Minnesota, he was named interim head coach in 2010 and full-time head coach in 2011. He held the job for three years before being fired. He landed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as defensive coordinator before one year as the Baltimore Ravens’ secondary coach. In 2017, the Bills brought in on board as defensive coordinator under head coach Sean McDermott. McDermott was on the Eagles’ staff with him in 2001 and 2002.
The Bills took a proposal to the owners last year that would delay hiring of head coaches until after the Super Bowl, so assistants could focus on the current season before being pressured to try and do two things at once. The league went the opposite direction, allowing interviews during the final two weeks of the season.
If Frazier is hired, the Bills will receive third-round selections in each of the next two drafts as part of the Rooney Rule updates from 2020. This was implemented to encourage teams to develop minority coaches.
Frazier would provide a calming influence to the scattered Chicago Bears, or any team looking to settle down a rocky situation. He would likely hire an offensive play caller to run that side of the football in the same way McDermott has done in Buffalo with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. Other than the calming demeanor, Frazier has led an outstanding defense since coming to Buffalo and has shown an ability to defend the pass in ways many other coaches have failed.
In 2021, Frazier was a finalist for the Houston Texans job that ultimately went to former Bills QB coach David Culley.
If Frazier leaves, the most obvious candidate to replace him would be defensive line coach Eric Washington. Washington was the Carolina Panthers’ defensive coordinator in 2018 and 2019.