Bills DC Frazier taking a year off, plans to return in 2024
Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is taking a year off from coaching but plans to return for the 2024 season, the team announced Tuesday.
The team did not provide any other details on Frazier’s decision, which comes a little over five weeks after the three-time AFC East champion Bills were eliminated with a 27-10 loss to Cincinnati in the divisional round of the playoffs.
The Bills have not said who will fill in for Frazier this season, though the team has hired Al Holcomb to serve as a senior defensive assistant. Holcomb finished last season as the Carolina Panthers' defensive coordinator under interim coach Steve Wilks after Matt Rhule was fired.
Coach Sean McDermott was scheduled to speak later Tuesday at the NFL combine in Indianapolis.
Holcomb has ties with McDermott from their days working together at Carolina. Holcomb coached linebackers during McDermott’s final four seasons as the Panthers' defensive coordinator before he was hired by Buffalo in 2017.
Frazier’s decision comes after an emotionally draining season, which included safety Damar Hamlin going into cardiac arrest and having to be resuscitated on the field during a game in Cincinnati on Jan. 2. The Bills also had their schedule disrupted by two major snowstorms.
The 63-year-old Frazier has spent the past six seasons as the Bills' defensive coordinator, and he was among the first coaches hired by McDermott upon taking over in Buffalo. Frazier was considered McDermott’s most trusted adviser.
He has 24 seasons of NFL coaching experience, including a three-plus-year stint as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings from 2010 to 2013.
Last year, Frazier oversaw a Bills' defense that overcame a series of injuries to finish ranked sixth in the NFL in fewest yards allowed and second in points allowed. Over his six years in Buffalo, the Bills' defense finished ranked third or better in fewest yards allowed three times, including first in 2021.
Frazier is a former cornerback, who spent five seasons in the NFL and was a member of the 1985 Super Bowl-winning Chicago Bears' famed Buddy Ryan defense, which is considered one of the best in league history.
Frazier broke into coaching in 1988 as head coach of NAIA Trinity College. In December, he was named a member of the Class of 2023 for the Black College Football Hall of Fame. He will be honored during a ceremony in June.
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John Wawrow, The Associated Press