What will the Buffalo Bills do without defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier?
INDIANAPOLIS. When the news broke Tuesday at 9:00 am ET that Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier was taking a year off from work, the decision was greeted with astonishment around the NFL world.
That also included pass rusher von Miller, who learned via phone from coach Sean McDermott that Frazier, 63, would not be coaching next year but plans to return in 2024.
“I didn’t expect this,” NFL Scouting’s Miller said Friday. “He had a great year with us last year and he had some great years in all the time he was there. So I didn’t expect it to happen, especially the timing. Usually, you know, coaches take, they [usually] come to a decision as soon as the season when there are vacancies. But Coach Frazier belongs to this league. He’s a Hall of Famer, Hall of Famer coach.”
Frazier’s decision was not made for health reasons, but instead, as McDermott told Miller during their call, “he just needs to take a year off.” General manager Brandon Bean said they weren’t sure if Frazier’s return would definitely involve the Bills.
“It’s hard. As we know, this is a tough business,” Bean said. “This is being studied very carefully, and it takes many hours, a lot of time. Again, not to mention Leslie, but sometimes you can just take a breath away from them. It would have been for him to say, but he was very adamant that he had no intention of resigning. My five cents: he just wanted to take a step back this season.”
Frazier was interviewed about head coaching opportunities in 2020 and 2021 after being interim head coach and then head coach of the Minnesota Vikings from 2010 to 2013 (21-32-1 record). In this training cycle, he was bypassed for interviews. Since 2017, the Bills defense has ranked first in the league in defensive efficiency (60.88), yards per game (5.04), and touchdowns allowed per attempt (3.3%).
Miller’s follow-up question to McDermott: Who will call defense plays for the scores?
“But [McDermott] said, “We’re fine.” Either it will be Coach McDermott or they will find someone inside,” Miller said.
Bean said that when applying for a job, they always try to look from the inside before looking for all the vacancies from the outside. The accounts have a variety of domestic options and McDermott is taking some serious consideration. They also have assistant coaches with defensive experience: newly hired senior defensive assistant Al Holcomb and senior defensive assistant/defensive line coach Eric Washington.
McDermott has the most experience, having spent eight years as a defensive coordinator (two with the Philadelphia Eagles and six with the Carolina Panthers).
“A good moment for us is Sean’s past. Sean has been the defense coordinator for a long time and now he’s just going to lead it without saying we will or won’t. [hire a new coordinator]Bean said. “It’s still very early in the off-season. … We feel like we have really good minds in this room.”
What if it’s McDermott?
While Frazier called the play defensively, McDermott has played an integral role in the team’s defense, meaning the formation is likely to remain unchanged.
“[McDermott’s] there we review things, especially if it’s a game we won and there were some mistakes we made,” Miller said.
The pass rusher noted how, after the Bills’ Week 11 win over the Cleveland Browns, McDermott, whom Miller described as “naturally short-tempered”, met with the defense to discuss what happened after the Bills forfeited back-to-back touchdowns. discs at the end of the game.
“Is it me, or were they the plays that I had to put on, or was it [defensive backs] Taron Johnson or Dane Jackson, he would go through every play and say, that’s why it happened,” Miller said. “All you can do is just respect that and I really appreciate that.”
This won’t be the first time McDermott has urged the Bills to defend. In 2018, McDermott took over halftime duties from Frazier following a September loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, but it was short-lived as the coordinator took over the following week.
One of the coaches under whom McDermott studied, Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reed, is known for successfully spotting offensive plays, as well as performing all head coaching duties during a game.
Three other NFL head coaches name their team’s defense: Dennis Allen (New Orleans Saints), Todd Bowles (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Brandon Staley (Chargers).
Miller played under Vic Fangio, who called for defense in Denver.
“If anyone can do it, it’s Coach McDermott. This has already been done before. Fangio’s coach… he was head coach and head coach. optimistic.”
If McDermott became a full-time Bills quarterback, his ability to manage the game and distribute other duties would be another serious test for him as a head coach.
“If Sean decided to take over the game, I’ve seen him do it for a long time, with great success,” Bean said. “He went up against some of the great quarterbacks of his day and offensive gurus you have to beat. great job if it comes down to it.”
What about other internal candidates?
Washington has been with the Bills team since 2020, primarily as a defensive line coach. He worked with McDermott at the Carolinas from 2011 to 2016 before taking on the Panthers defensive coordinator role in 2018, which he held for two seasons. However, in the 2018 season, coach Ron Rivera removed rally duties from the Washingtons, a situation that continued into 2019.
During Miller’s tenure with Buffalo, he raved about working with the Washingtons and how he handles the defensive line.
“When you look at coach Washington, you know this shit is real. He was in the army, judging by the way he speaks … And this is above all love. Love is the foundation of it all,” Miller said. .
Holcomb was hired a month ago and most recently was the Panthers’ interim defense coordinator. He was also the defensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals in 2018 and called to play for both the Panthers and the Cardinals. He worked with McDermott at Carolina from 2013 to 2016 as a linebacker coach.
“[Holcomb’s] coached several defensive positions,” McDermott said. “He was with me at headquarters in Carolina when we went to the Super Bowl. So he was a great addition, I thought, and when they got changed there, he set us free.”
The team may also consider linebacker coach Bobby Babic and defensive/passing coordinator John Butler.
However, the team decides to organize a defensive headquarters, there is confidence in the ability to continue their recent success.
“We think we have a very good defensive staff, a lot of bright minds, and the only question is who will take on what roles to handle this in the future,” Bean said, “but I don’t think it’s a setback.” “.