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Broncos head coach candidate: Leslie Frazier, Buffalo Bills Defensive Coordinator

The Denver Broncos will be setting up interviews this week. We don’t have a list yet, but we’re running through as many candidates as possible.

Miami Dolphins v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

A standout corner on the infamous ‘85 Chicago Bears, Leslie Frazier suffered an unfortunate injury that virtually ended his career in that Super Bowl. Shortly after that, Frazier was named the first-ever Head Coach at Trinity College. There, Frazier won two conference titles with the team and led them to their first-ever NAIA playoff bid. He remains the winningest coach in Trinity history, and they named their football field after him.

Following his work at Trinity, Frazier accepted a job as the Defensive Backs coach at Illinois under Ron Turner. He worked there for two years before moving up into the NFL ranks. Frazier got a job working as the Defensive Backs coach under Andy Reid in Philadelphia. There, he helped coach Brian Dawkins and Troy Vincent to numerous Pro Bowl appearances. Frazier also met Sean McDermott there, as McDermott was an Assistant Head Coach to Reid there. Philadelphia’s defense consistently ranked among the best in the league against the pass,

After his successful tenure under Reid, Frazier was hired by Marvin Lewis to be his first Defensive Coordinator in Cincinnati. In Frazier’s first season, the team finished 31st in Defensive DVOA, but turned it around in his second season to finish 11th in 2004. The Bengals’ 36 takeaways ranked third in the NFL that year as well.

Frazier then took a job working for Tony Dungy as an assistant and then Defensive Backs coach in Indianapolis. Working for Dungy, Frazier was instrumental in their Super Bowl win over the Bears in Super Bowl XLI. Under Frazier, Bob Sanders made a Pro Bowl appearance in 2005. The Colts ranked second in Defensive DVOA against the pass in his first year. In the Colts’ Super Bowl run in 2006, Frazier’s defensive backs clamped down on their opponents, recording seven INTs and allowing just three touchdowns through the air.

After his Super Bowl run, Frazier was hired by the Minnesota Vikings to be the team’s Defensive Coordinator. Frazier reunited with Brad Childress there, as the two had worked together under Andy Reid in Philadelphia. Frazier served as Defensive Coordinator in 2007 and then added on Assistant Head Coaching duties in 2008. Under his coaching, Minnesota’s defense finishes 13th, 4th, 10th, and 11th in Defensive DVOA. In 2010, Brad Childress was fired and Frazier took over as the interim head coach. Frazier went 3-3 as the interim head coach and parlayed that success into being the full-time head coach at Minnesota. Frazier kept much of the same staff with him in Minnesota, aiming for stability and continuity.

Unfortunately, Frazier was fired just three seasons in after a 21-32 record. Frazier’s respect around the league helped him gain a job as Defensive Coordinator for Lovie Smith in Tampa for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Frazier’s defenses finished 19th in Defensive DVOA both years, and Tampa moved on from the whole staff. Frazier quickly rebounded and landed in Baltimore as the Secondary coach. In Baltimore, Frazier worked with four active Defensive Coordinators (Dean Pees, Joe Cullen, Mike MacDonald, and Wink Martindale) to help guide Baltimore to the sixth overall ranking in Defensive DVOA.

Sean McDermott was hired in 2017 by the Buffalo Bills and immediately sought Frazier’s services. What a job Frazier has done for the Bills. He’s helped turn Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer into one of the best, if not the best, safety tandems in the NFL. Multiple defensive backs like Tre’Davious White, Levi Wallace, Taron Johnson, Dean Marlowe, and Dane Jackson have enjoyed success under his leadership. After ranking 18th in DVOA his first year, Buffalo has finished 2nd, 7th, 12th, and 3rd ever since.

The Frazier dilemma is much like the Todd Bowles dilemma. Everywhere he’s gone, he’s enjoyed success as a coach. He’s made the playoffs multiple times and has two Super Bowl wins under his belt. However, his time as a head coach ended poorly in Minnesota. Like Bowles, he was working with a pretty poor quarterback room while he was in Minnesota. It’s tough to gauge how much is on Frazier and how much is on the situation.

There is a clear link to George Paton through Frazier’s time with the Vikings. Frazier also coached with Broncos’ Senior Analyst Matt Sheldon while Sheldon was with the Vikings. Frazier is a well-respected coach and had admirers across the league, so I’m not surprised he pinged on the initial radar of many writers. I’d suspect he’s more favored for Chicago than Denver though.

Potential Offensive Coordinator hires: Cameron Turner, Arizona Cardinals Quarterbacks coach; Duce Staley, Detroit Lions Running Backs coach; James Urban, Baltimore Ravens Quarterbacks coach

Potential Defensive Coordinator hires: Bill Shuey, Chicago Bears Outside Linebackers coach; Bobby Babich, Buffalo Bills Safeties coach; Jeff Howard, Cleveland Browns Defensive Backs coach/Passing Game Coordinator


Would you like it if the Broncos hired Leslie Frazier as their next head coach?

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