Like Bills' D, Leslie Frazier could bounce back as coach candidate

Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, shown greeting Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins on Sept. 23, was the head coach in Minnesota from 2011 to 2013 and was interviewed by the Colts last season. Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills had allowed 75 points and 653 yards through the first six quarters of the season when coach Sean McDermott decided to take over playcalling duties from defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier at halftime of the team's home opener.

The Bills lost that game, known more for the abrupt halftime retirement of cornerback Vontae Davis, to the Los Angeles Chargers. However, they pulled off the NFL's biggest upset in 23 years the following Sunday, beating the Minnesota Vikings by 21 points despite being 17-point underdogs.

Frazier resumed playcalling responsibilities in Minnesota and earned a game ball for his efforts in the rebound of his defense against the Vikings, the team he coached from 2011 through 2013. He was fired after compiling an 18-29 record and losing his only playoff game.

Given Frazier's leadership of the Bills' defensive turnaround, it might be time for a team to give him a second chance as a head coach. Since Week 3, Frazier's defense in Buffalo has allowed the fewest yards per game (281.1), fewest passing yards per game (177.7), fewest first downs per game (17.4) and second-fewest yards per play (4.78) in the NFL.

"I think he should be considered," McDermott said Thursday. "He's been a head coach before. I think he's a good coach and he's done a nice job with the defense."

The Fritz Pollard Alliance last month named Frazier one of 11 minority coaches who should be considered for head-coach openings this offseason. Interest in Frazier in January would not be surprising; he interviewed for the Indianapolis Colts' vacancy last winter.

"He should get another opportunity to interview, like he did last year," Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said. "Our production, being a top-five defense, that type of success should merit at least an opportunity."

The Bills have allowed the 11th-fewest points per game since Week 3 despite a red zone defense that ranks 28th over that span. While not stifling in every statistical category, the Bills' defense has found success in second halves. Since Week 3, the Bills are allowing 8.8 points per game after halftime, fifth-best in the NFL, compared to 12.5 in first halves, tied for 19th.

The halftime adjustments were evident in Sunday's 14-13 victory over the Detroit Lions, when the Bills held top receiver Kenny Golladay to 31 second-half receiving yards after giving up 115 yards to Golladay in the first half.

"[Frazier] doesn't freak out on the field," safety Micah Hyde said. "I've been around some coaches that you give up plays, you give up touchdowns and it's a panic. He never gets too high or gets too low. On top of that, you go into the defensive meetings and it's the same way.

"He's never yelling. He's never going crazy. I think it goes back to him playing [with the Chicago Bears in the 1980s]. He understands that there is going to be games where things don't go right."

McDermott, who served as the Philadelphia Eagles' defensive coordinator in 2009-10 and led the Carolina Panthers' defense in 2011-16, has his fingerprints on the Bills' defense, but is not directly involved in leading the group on Sundays.

"Leslie has a heavy hand in what we do," Alexander said. "He's making decisions and calls on the sideline."