Von Miller Admits Being Blindsided By Leslie Frazier’s Exit From Bills

Von Miller

Getty Bills star Von Miller opens up about defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier's sudden break from coaching.

When the Buffalo Bills announced on Tuesday, February 28 that defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier would be stepping away for the 2023 NFL season, the news came as a surprise, even for the team’s players.

Bills superstar edge rusher Von Miller, who’s been shadowing general manager Brandon Beane at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis this past week, admitted to The Buffalo News that Frazier’s sudden departure left him blindsided.

“I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t see it coming,” Miller said on Friday, March 3. “He had a great year with us the last year, and he’s had several great years the whole time he’s been there. So, I didn’t see it coming, especially the timing of it. Usually, you know, coaches, they come to a decision like right after the season, when jobs are available.”

While a bulk of the Bills’ fan base was thrilled to see Frazier gone following back-to-back playoff collapses, the 33-year-old has nothing but respect for the legendary coach. “Coach Frazier, he’s vested in this league,” Miller said. “He’s a Hall of Fame player, Hall of Fame coach. And, what do you take immediately, you know, when you get guys like that, that need a break, you think it’s health-related, but he just needed time.”

One of Frazier’s defensive assistants told The Athletic‘s Tim Graham at the Combine, “It’s embarrassing anybody could get so pumped up about losing coach Frazier. He’s a pillar.”

All Signs Point to Leslie Frazier’s Replacement Being In-House

Leslie Frazier

GettyBuffalo Bills defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Leslie Frazier at Highmark Stadium on January 22, 2023.

The eight-time Pro Bowler said he learned of Frazier’s break via a phone call from head coach Sean McDermott. “He let me know,” Miller said. “And immediately, my question was, ‘Is he all right?’ Because you start to think it’s health, and (McDermott) was like, ‘No, this is not health or anything like that, he just needs to take a year off.’ And my next question was, ‘Who’s gonna call the defense?’ ”

Beane said during his press conference earlier this week that Frazier’s decision to step back for a year was not health-related, but didn’t get into the specifics of what led to this decision so late in the game when most of the top available defensive coordinators have already been snatched up by other teams, as Miller mentioned.

However, Beane strongly insinuated that McDermott could take over Frazier’s role, as he spent a total of seven seasons as a defensive coordinator between the Eagles and 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.”

The Bills could also look toward senior defensive assistant Al Holcomb, who was not given a position-specific role when he was hired last month, defensive line coach Eric Washington or linebackers coach Bobby Babich should McDermott decide to stick with head coaching duties.

Von Miller Believes Sean McDermott Could Handle Being Bills’ Defensive Coordinator, Too

Sean McDermott

GettyHead coach Sean McDermott of the Buffalo Bills looks on against the Miami Dolphins during the AFC Wild Card playoff game at Highmark Stadium on January 15, 2023.

While there are obvious drawbacks to managing both roles, Miller believes McDermott could handle it. “Being a head coach is a tough job,” Miller said. “And then, you’re gonna be a head coach and a (defensive) coordinator? That’s two doubles. But if anybody can do it, it’s coach McDermott. It’s been done before. Coach Fangio, we had the top-five defense, and he was the head coach and the DC.”

There are currently 15 NFL head coaches who also work as the team’s offensive player callers, but there are only five who run the defensive play calling — Chargers’ Brandon Staley, Saints’ Dennis Allen, Buccaneers’ Todd Bowles, and “possibly” the Texans’ Demeco Ryans and Arizona’s Jonathan Gannon, The Buffalo News reported.

Miller said, “You know me, I’m the most optimistic,” but noted that standpoint comes from his confidence in the Bills’ defensive coaching staff. “Coach McDermott has done a great job everywhere he’s went. You know, it’s just a year. It’s not like he doesn’t know the defense. We’re running his defense. Everything will be good. I firmly believe that.”

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