The Buffalo Bills announced Tuesday that defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier has decided to take a year off from coaching. They added that Frazier does plan a return to football for the 2024 season.
While with the Bills, Frazier guided one of the top defenses in the NFL. According to the Bills, who hired Frazier in 2017, his defenses allowed the third-fewest points during that span at 20 points per game. They were also tops in yards per game at 315, passing yards per game at 202, and passing touchdowns allowed at 107. The Bills also finished second during those six seasons in interceptions (99) and takeaways (158).
Frazier’s unit was also loved by the analytic community. Football Outsiders’ DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) had the Bills finishing inside the top seven in four of his seasons in Orchard Park. Buffalo finished fourth at -11% last season, first at -18% in 2021, 12th at -2.2% in 2020, seventh at -9.9% in 2019, and second at -14% in 2018. The Bills’ defense saw a steady climb in total defense during Frazier’s time, going from 26th during his first season to second by year number two. He then guided the third-ranked D in 2019, 14th in 2020, first in 2021, and sixth in 2022.
While all those numbers shine on Frazier’s resume, what Bills fans want and the team needs during this stretch is playoff success. Buffalo made the postseason five times and won four games, but never went further than the AFC Championship game in 2020. Their 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 against Kansas City. The Bills averaged 10.3 wins per season during Frazier’s tenure, but in the end, fans with Super Bowl aspirations expect more from the team’s defensive coordinator.
Looking forward, Brandon Beane just met with the media at the NFL Scouting Combine, where he said he supports Sean McDermott being the Bills’ defensive play caller.
“That would be great if that’s the route he feels is best for us,” Beane said. “I am going to support that and full faith he would do a great job if it came to that.”
He added that he isn’t certain if Buffalo will hire a new defensive coordinator, going on to say, Bobby Babich, Eric Washington, John Butler, and Al Holcomb are great defensive minds already in the building at One Bills Drive. Beane also said that if Frazier wanted to be the Bills’ DC in 2023 he would have been, so this tells us the decision to step away was Frazier’s to make.