The resounding response to the Bills’ divisional round loss was FIRE LESLIE FRAZIER. It’s not unfair to make that assessment. Buffalo’s season has ended with a playoff loss the last four seasons, and in those games, they allowed 32.75 points per game and 440.75 yards per game. One of those losses also includes the infamous “13 seconds” debacle. If you’re in the boat that believes the Bills have plateaued under Frazier’s tutelage, I want to introduce you to a few names that could fulfill your fantasy to wear the defensive coordinator headset in Buffalo starting later in 2023.
The Old Guard
Vic Fangio is the oldest guy on my list, coming in at 64 years old. With that comes coaching experience that dates back to 1979 when he was a 21-year-old defensive coach in high school. Fangio has been a defensive coordinator for the Panthers (1995-1998), Colts (1999-2001), Texans (2002-2005), 49ers (2011-2014), and Bears (2015-2018). He was also the Broncos’ head coach from 2019 to 2021. His best year was with the Bears in 2018, where he was named the PFWA and AP Assistant Coach of the Year. During that season, the Bears led the NFL in turnovers forced (36) and interceptions (27). They also ranked third in total defense, second in yards per play allowed, and first in scoring defense. Chicago finished 12-4 and lost in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Fangio parlayed that success into his HC gig with the Broncos. As the Denver bench boss, the Broncos went 19-30 and failed to reach the postseason in any of these three seasons.
If They’re Available
Brian Flores might be the most recognizable name on this list for Bills’ fans. The current Steelers’ senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach was the head coach of the Dolphins from 2019 to 2021. Under Flores, Miami went 24-25 with a 10-6 mark in 2020 and a 9-8 finish in 2021. Both of those records are better than where Miami finished this season at 9-9, including the playoff loss to the Bills. South Beach wasn’t Flores’ start in the AFC east. He spent 2008 to 2018 in various defensive roles in New England, winning four super bowls under Bill Belichick. The major issue with Flores is the fact he is getting head coaching interviews.
Ejiro Evero starts a youth wave on this list. The current Broncos defensive coordinator is just 42 years old, but with the turnover in Denver appears to be available. Like Flores, he has had his name attached to some head coaching interviews. Evero was a practice squad player with the Oakland Raiders back in 2004 before he shifted his focus to coaching. After a couple of years in college Evero spent most of 2007 to now in the NFL. He was the safeties coach on the Rams super bowl team before moving to secondary coach and passing game coordinator in 2021. Should Evero not get the HC job he is looking for, a shot with the Bills’ high-end defense wouldn’t be a terrible second option.
Jim Leonhard was a Bills player from 2005 to 2007 and spent a decade on the field in the NFL. After finishing his playing days with the Browns in 2014, Leonhard moved back to Wisconsin to coach his Badgers’ defensive backs in 2016. The 40-year-old Leonhard then climbed the ranks to DC from 2017 to 2022 and was their interim coach in 2022. After being passed over for the vacant head coaching position for Luke Fickell he could be looking for a new home.
Jesse Minter is the way-out-of-the-box guy on the list. Minter is just 39 years old and currently resides in Ann Arbor, Michigan as the DC of the Michigan Wolverines. If you’ve followed my work on Twitter, you know this one would break my heart as I feel about the Wolverines the way y’all feel about the Bills. That said, Minter took a Michigan defense that was thought to take a step back after losing former DC Mike McDonald to the Ravens as well as first-round talent Aiden Hutchinson, David Ojabo, and Dax Hill to the NFL. All Minter did was keep the Wolverines near the top of most defensive metrics and guided the defense to another dominating win over rival Ohio State.
Eric Washington might be Sean McDermott’s BFF. I have nothing to back up that claim, but he has spent a lot of time with McDermott over the years. Washington has been with the Bills as the defensive line coach since 2020. He added Senior Defensive Assistant to his ledger for the 2022 season. Before that, he was the Panthers’ defensive line coach from 2011 to 2017 and their defensive coordinator for 2018 and 2019. Like I said, a lot of McDermott time.
John Butler has been with the Bills since 2018, serving as the defensive backs coach until 2021 and adding passing game coordinator to his resume this past season. Before joining the Bills, Butler was with the Texans for four seasons as their secondary coach. Butler isn’t on the young or old side, coming in at 49 years old. He spent a lot of his coaching career in college, going back to 1995 and finishing with Penn State in 2013 as their DC.
Bob Babich was on the Bills staff with Sean McDermott for his first four years as the head coach and has NFL experience dating back to 2003. He’s worked with the Rams, Bears, Jaguars, Chargers, and Bills. Babich spent more of his time coaching linebackers but was a DC during his stops in Chicago and Jacksonville. The Bills have developed two awesome linebackers in Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds. If you want to place credit, Bob Babich may be the man to praise.
Bobby Babich is the son of the aforementioned Bob Babich, duh! He’s currently on the Bills’ staff as the linebackers coach, a position he started this season. As we know, both Matt Milano and Tremaine Edmunds had fantastic seasons, but a lot of that credit could simply go to the players themselves or the man above developing them. Bobby has seen a pretty precipitous rise in the coaching ranks, starting as a defensive assistant with the Panthers back in 2012 and moving through the Browns and Bills’ defensive roles to his current position.