Houston Chronicle

Frazier is lauded by many for people skills

Bills’ defensive guru has impressed players, coaches across the league

- By Aaron Wilson STAFF WRITER aaron.wilson@chron.com twitter.com/aaronwilso­n_nfl

Leslie Frazier was coaching the Eagles’ blue-chip secondary, a group of accomplish­ed defensive backs built in his high-level mold, when he decided to tap even deeper into their collective knowledge.

A former starting NFL cornerback who led the hard-hitting 1985 Bears defense with six intercepti­ons as a protégé of legendary defensive coordinato­r Buddy Ryan, Frazier believes strongly in a collaborat­ive approach. So two decades ago, after landing his first NFL coaching job in 1999 working for Andy Reid, he decided it was quiz time for Philadelph­ia Pro Bowl cornerback­s Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent and Pro Bowl safety Brian Dawkins.

“One of the great characteri­stics about Leslie was from a schematic standpoint,” Taylor, 47, said Sunday afternoon while driving back from Arlington after his son, star cornerback Bobby Taylor Jr., and Katy won the Class 6A Division II state championsh­ip Saturday. “During the week, we would go over 10 to 15 different coverages. On Fridays, it was unique because he would give us a quiz. It wasn’t a matter of right or wrong. It was, ‘Guys, second-and-long. If they come out in this personnel, what coverage do you like?’

“It was like an offensive coordinato­r’s relationsh­ip with their quarterbac­ks. It allowed us more freedom to go home, watch our own film and go back to him: ‘Leslie, if they’re in this particular alignment, if I see this, can we run this?’ He was open to that. As a player, it empowers you to play that much harder. The possibilit­y of having someone like him become a head coach is phenomenal.”

Frazier, now the assistant head coach and coordinato­r of the AFC East champion Bills’ swarming defense, interviewe­d Sunday for the Texans’ head coaching vacancy, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly, who also said Ravens assistant head coach-receivers coach-passing game coordinato­r David Culley is set to interview Monday morning.

Rams defensive coordinato­r Brandon Staley also interviewe­d with the Texans on Sunday before agreeing to become the Chargers’ next coach. With Staley getting a job that was expected to go to Bills offensive coordinato­r Brian Daboll, the Texans are expected to consider Daboll.

Should the Texans hire Frazier, 61, Taylor is confident his former coach will provide an intellectu­al approach, credibilit­y in the locker room, and strong character and organizati­onal skills.

Frazier comes highly recommende­d by multiple NFL coaches, as well as former Super Bowl winner Tony Dungy.

“Leslie is a good guy, a good coach, very experience­d and connected in NFL circles,” an NFL coach said. “He would be a good hire.”

A former head coach with the Vikings, Frazier has built a reputation as one of the NFL’s top defensive strategist­s. Behind Frazier’s game plan, the Bills had a masterful performanc­e as they overwhelme­d Ravens quarterbac­k Lamar Jackson in Saturday’s 17-3 AFC divisional round playoff victory. Jackson left the game with a concussion after being limited to 162 passing yards, no touchdowns and a 61.5 passer rating. He had an intercepti­on returned 101 yards

for a touchdown and rushed for 34 yards on nine carries.

“A game like that is more exciting to me as a former defensive player than somebody scoring 40 or 50 points, and I was definitely impressed,” Taylor said. “A lot of people were thinking the Ravens were on their way. To put up that type of performanc­e, it speaks volumes.”

A former undrafted free agent from Alcorn State, Frazier is known for his people skills and his ability to confuse quarterbac­ks. Coaching a Buffalo defense headlined by cornerback Tre’Davious White, linebacker­s Tremaine Edmunds, Matt Milano and A.J. Klein, safety Jordan Poyer

and former University of Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver, Frazier operates with an aggressive, relentless style.

Frazier went 21-32-1 as a head coach with the Vikings. He’s a former Ravens and Colts secondary coach and has coordinate­d defenses for the Buccaneers, Bengals and Vikings.

Frazier went 10-6 in 2012 as Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson won the NFL MVP award, rushing for 2,097 yards. The Vikings lost in the playoffs to the Packers that season when quarterbac­k Christian Ponder was hurt and Joe Webb started. Frazier was fired after a 5-10-1 season in 2013.

The Texans, who are in a major dispute with quarterbac­k Deshaun Watson regarding their choices for coaching interviews, could use a positive influence on their locker room.

“As a former player, Leslie just gets it,” said Taylor, a Notre Dame product who intercepte­d 19 passes over 10 NFL seasons. “He’s been inside the locker room. He knows how it gets in training camp when guys are hurting and maybe you need to switch up the schedule. He would probably institute some senior leadership at each position and talk with them on a weekly basis. Not just lip-service talks.

“With his experience, Leslie can put together a great staff. … The other coaches would trust in Leslie. With people talking about the Houston situation and saying they have problems, they definitely need to hire a very confident leader of men to be a part of their organizati­on.”

The Texans’ defense, a major problem in terms of personnel, ranked 30th overall under first-year defensive coordinato­r Anthony Weaver, who, according to sources, is interviewi­ng with new Jaguars coach Urban Meyer this week.

 ?? Timothy T Ludwig / Getty Images ?? Bills defensive coordinato­r Leslie Frazier led a unit that held the Ravens to three points on Saturday.
Timothy T Ludwig / Getty Images Bills defensive coordinato­r Leslie Frazier led a unit that held the Ravens to three points on Saturday.

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