Former Vikings HC Eyeing NFL Return
Former Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier hasn’t been disconnected from the sport very long, but he’s ready to return.
Frazier last served as the Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator before the two parties amicably split in February.
Former Vikings HC Eyeing NFL Return
But the ennui is setting in for Frazier, 64, and he’s plotting a return as soon as 2024, so about eight months from now if all goes according to plan.
Participating in the NFL’s Accelerator Program, Frazier said this week via SI.com’s Albert Breer, “Man, early on, this is the third month. So for me, that first month or two, it was hard, man, just trying to find my rhythm and getting used to having free time. It’s been so long, more than 30 years, since I haven’t been on a schedule this time of the year. So it was a challenge just trying to figure out what to do with myself. But over the last three or four weeks, things have gotten a lot better as far as me being organized in how I want to spend my time.”
Frazier was the Bills defensive coordinator for six years between 2017 and 2022, while the team returned to leaguewide prominence. Buffalo ranked third in the NFL per defensive EPA/Play on his watch, a wildly impressive figure.
“I think my reasons for stepping away were the right reasons; I feel good about it. It just gives me a chance to see things from a different perspective, get recharged again and reenergized. I’m gonna go watch some teams in their OTAs, will probably do the same thing again in training camp, go visit some clubs as well. And then in the fall, I will really begin to take a look at what’s happening around the league, make sure I stay up on any new trends, anything that’s changing,” Frazier continued.
Frazier certainly didn’t thrive with the Vikings, but folks are afforded second chances in life and sports. The man unmistakably excelled in Buffalo and perhaps could lead another team with more success than he did with the Vikings from 2011 to 2013. In those seasons, Minnesota posted an 18-29-1 (.385) record, the eighth-worst in the NFL during the timeframe. Too, Frazier was hired as a defensive guru, and the Vikings defense ranked 28th in the league per EPA/Play from 2011 to 2013. It was not a fit for either party.
Frazier concluded, “Hopefully, an owner will give me a chance to talk to him about an opportunity. If that doesn’t happen, I’m good. I’ve had a good career. I’m good. My goal is to be a head coach. I know I don’t have much time left, I’m at an age where it seems like owners are going younger and younger, but I think I have some things I can bring to the table. We’ll see what happens.”
Frazier interviewed with the Chicago Bears and New York Giants during 2022’s coaching carousel, but the Bears landed on Matt Eberflus while the Giants hired Brian Daboll — the team that beat the Vikings in the postseason about 11 months later.
The ex-Vikings skipper was also whispered in the rumor mill for the Indianapolis Colts job down the stretch of the 2022 season when Frank Reich was fired, but Jeff Saturday took over as the interim coach.
By his merits in Buffalo, Frazier certainly deserves one more shot at head coaching glory. We shall see next January and February if his wish is granted.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).