Frazier is lauded by many for people skills
Bills’ defensive guru has impressed players, coaches across the league
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.