While fans called for longtime defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier to get fired following the Buffalo Bills‘ crushing 27-10 defeat in their AFC divisional playoff game, general manager Brandon Beane said during his end-of-year press conference that he would not make rash decisions based on one game’s outcome, making it clear the former ’85 Bears legend’s job was safe.
So, it came as a huge surprise when the Bills announced on Tuesday, February 28, “Frazier has decided to take a year off from coaching in 2023” and revealed several changes to their staff for the upcoming season. While the statement read that Frazier would be returning for the 2024 season, it’s not clear whether that would be in Buffalo.
“I think what we’re going to do is just take this year off and just let this year be and cross that in 2024,” Beane said while addressing the media at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Tuesday.
Beane noted how the defensive coordinator, who’s coached for the Bills since 2017, reached out last week to discuss some things, and together, they decided stepping away for the 2023 season would be best.
“He doesn’t want to retire,” Beane said. “He’s not there in his mind. But he just wanted to take a step back. So, the way we left it, he’s going to take 2023 off. But talking to him, he has full plans to return to coaching in 2024.”
Who Will Replace Frazier for the 2023 NFL Season?
While the Bills announced Austin Guard as their new offensive assistant and confirmed Adam Henry was named the wide receivers coach, Al Hocomb as senior defensive assistant, and Kyle Shurmur as offensive quality control coach, it’s not clear who will fill Frazier’s shoes.
Beane said he had planned on Frazier’s return this season and addressed the possibility of Sean McDermott being more involved, as he served as a defensive coordinator with both the Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers before getting hired as the Bills’ head coach in 2017.
“If Sean decided to take over play-calling, I’ve seen him do it for a long time [with] great success,” Beane said. “He’s gone against some great quarterbacks in his day and offensive gurus that you have to beat. So that would be great if that’s the route he feels is best for us, I’m going to support that. And [I have] full faith he would do a great job if it came to that.”
Twitter Strongly Reacted to Frazier’s Sudden Hiatus, Worried About His Health
Frazier’s decision to step away for a year caused speculation on Twitter to run wild, as fans and analysts wondered what prompted the 63-year-old to take a hiatus. It was less than a year ago that Frazier was discussing how he’d hoped to return to being a head coach one day.
“We straight bullied Leslie off the coaching staff that’s unreal,” one man tweeted. Others were concerned for his health and family because the reason for the break was not revealed. One person tweeted, “Beane comes across as a straight shooter but there’s a few things he isn’t truthful on. Rightfully so.”
Another fan tweeted, “Prayers all is well with Leslie and his family. It must have been hard on him too this year, especially with Damar.” Another person wrote, “Celebrating this is a bit nuts. He is one of the best defensive minds in football. This year he had the most banged up backfield I can remember and still had a top D.”
One man tweeted, “This has all the feelings of some health issues for Frazier. If he was asked to leave or if he quit it would have happened sooner so they could have more choices for a DC. In Bill Polian’s book, he said a GM always has a list of people to possibly hire just in case this happens.”
USA Today’s Bradley Gelber tweeted, “Understand the #Bills defense runs through McDermott but think this will be a welcome change. This defense has felt like an overrated paper tiger the last couple seasons.”