It’s become routine for several NFL head coaches to get the axe following the regular season as teams with losing records look to rebuild. However, the Denver Broncos (4-11) couldn’t wait that long and fired head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who previously served as the Buffalo Bills‘ offensive coordinator back in 2013, the day after Christmas.
Following the Broncos’ most embarrassing loss of the season, they were blown out by the Los Angeles Rams 51-14 in Week 16, the team gave Hackett the pink slip. ESPN‘s Adam Schefter tweeted on December 26, “Senior assistant coach Jerry Rosburg, whom Nathaniel Hackett hired during the season to aid him in clock management strategy, is now taking over as the Broncos’ interim head coach, effective immediately.”
While Rosburg is set to take over for the final two games of the regular season, it’s not clear who Denver will hire as head coach for the 2023 NFL season. According to The Athletic‘s Nick Kosmider, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is a top candidate.
Kosmider wrote, “Frazier, 63, has bolstered his candidacy as a second-chance head coach with the work he’s done in Buffalo, where he has guided the Bills’ defense since 2017. Only the Patriots and Ravens have surrendered fewer points in that span, and only New England (158) has produced more takeaways than Frazier’s Buffalo unit (155).
“Frazier, who interviewed for the Giants’ vacancy last cycle and the Texans’ opening in 2020, is in his 24th NFL season as a coach and has been a part of numerous winning organizations. That includes a Super Bowl ring with Peyton Manning and the Colts in 2006 when Frazier was the assistant head coach and defensive backs coach.”
Frazier Worked With the Broncos General Manager for 7 Seasons
The Broncos owners, the Walton-Penner Group, put out an official statement regarding Hackett’s firing. They wrote, “Following extensive conversations with [general manager] George [Paton] and our ownership group, we determined a new direction would ultimately be in the best interest of the Broncos. This change was made now out of respect for everyone involved and allows us to immediately begin the search for a new head coach.
“Moving forward, we will carefully evaluate every aspect of our football operations and make whatever changes are necessary to restore this franchise’s winning tradition.” Penner also mentioned that he will work alongside Paton to find a new hew head coach, which bodes well for Frazier’s chances.
As Kosmider noted, “Frazier and Paton worked together for seven seasons in Minnesota from 2007 to 2013. Paton served as director of player personnel and later, assistant general manager during Frazier’s three seasons as head coach of the Vikings (2011 to 2013).”
Frazier Sounded Off on Defensive Coordinators Getting Overlooked for Head Coaching Jobs During the Offseason
While Frazier is laser-focused on bringing the first Super Bowl championship to Buffalo this year, during the offseason, he opened up about getting overlooked for the head coaching job by the Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, and Chicago Bears.
Back in 2010, Frazier became the interim head coach for the Vikings after Brad Childress was fired, a position he held through December 2013. While he’s thrived in Buffalo, the Bills have continuously had one of the top-ranked defensive squads since his arrival, Frazier sounded off on his inability to get another head coaching position.
“I’d be lying if I told you that I felt like it would take this long to have that opportunity come along, especially after some of the success and particularly the most recent success we’ve had in Buffalo,” Frazier said on the AP Pro Football Podcast on June 30. “So it’s discouraging in some ways, but you just have to be able to control what you can control. I’m going to do the very best I can and help us to have another good defense in 2022 and help the Buffalo Bills win as many games as we can and put us in a position to compete for the world championship.”
Instead of selecting Frazier, the Dolphins hired Mike McDaniel, the Giants went with Brian Daboll, and the Bears hired Matt Eberflus, the latter of whom was the only coach to previously serve as a defensive coordinator.
“Two of those cases, they said we would prefer to go with an offensive coach and they pointed to their young quarterback as the reason,” Frazier said. “And, I said this to both teams that I think I would do a good job of hiring a strong offensive coordinator, even though my background is defense. There have been a lot of defensive head coaches that have won Super Bowls in our league because at the end of the day, you need the right leadership. … It’s unfortunate. I think it’s very narrow-minded to only see the head coach as an offensive guy because you have a young quarterback. You need the right leader in that role because you’ve got to be able to handle multiple responsibilities, not just call offensive plays. I just I think that’s a misguided approach, but I’m not the guy doing the hiring.”
The very early betting favorite to take over the head coaching position in Denver is Sean Payton (+400), according to Bet Online, while Frazier (+1200) is tied for eighth place alongside Ejiro Evero and Jim Harbaugh.