Defensive Coordinator, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Leslie Frazier led the Vikings to a 2012 Wild Card playoff berth in his 2nd full season coaching the club and shattered outside expectations for a team that underwent a significant roster overhaul and relied on a talented but young core group with veteran leadership at key positions. The 2012 team marked Frazier’s 8th team in 14 seasons coaching in the NFL that advanced to the playoffs, 6 of those teams as division winners, and he has suffered only 3 losing seasons.
With the unique perspective of a Super Bowl winner as a player and coach, Frazier has a proven track record of success. His 1st title came as a starting CB with the 1985 Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XX. Since taking over the head coaching duties of the Vikings for the final 6 games of the 2010 season, Frazier has been committed to building a roster with talent and character that places value on playing smart, team-oriented football.
The 2012 Vikings set a franchise record by improving by 7 victories over the season before, finishing 10-6 to earn the 6th seed in the NFC playoffs after a 3-13 campaign in 2011. The 2012 team was 1 of 4 participants in the 2012 playoffs that were not in the tournament the season before. The Vikings came together as a team when it mattered most, winning the final 4 games of the regular season, including wins over playoff-bound Houston on the road and against NFC North champion Green Bay at home in the regular season finale. The Vikings counted on several rookies and 2nd-year players making huge contributions. The team started rookies LT Matt Kalil (1st round, #4) and S Harrison Smith (1st round, #29) in all 16 games while rookie kicker Blair Walsh had an NFL record-setting debut season. All 3 newcomers earned All-Rookie honors from the PFWA while 5 players earned Pro Bowl berths- Adrian Peterson, Jerome Felton, Jared Allen, Chad Greenway and Walsh. Peterson and Walsh were 1st-Team All-Pro selections by the Associated Press while Felton and Greenway were 2nd-Team selections. The club started a team-record 5 rookies in the home game vs. Chicago when CB Josh Robinson (3rd round), TE Rhett Ellison (4th round) and WR Jarius Wright (4th round) joined Kalil and Smith in the starting lineup.
Peterson had a season for the ages in 2012, rushing for 2,097 yards and earning consensus All-Pro honors along with amassing the 2nd-highest yardage total in a single season in NFL history and shattering his own previous team rushing record of 1,760 yards. Even more remarkable, the Vikings offensive line featured new starters at 3 positions up front paving the way for Peterson, led by C John Sullivan, who earned All-Pro honors from the PFWA/Pro Football Weekly.
In his 2 full seasons coaching the Vikings in 2011 and 2012 the team has been witness to some of the top record-setting performances in franchise and NFL history. Adrian Peterson’s remarkable comeback from a severe knee injury at the end of 2011 to post one of the most epic rushing seasons in NFL history was a story that captured the attention of the country. Peterson’s 2,097 yards rushing ranks 2nd in NFL history. His play on the field and humility off it was an inspiration. If not for Peterson’s performance, Walsh’s record-setting debut season would have been the story of the team. He broke the NFL record for 50-yard FGs by going 10-of-10 and booted a game winner in the 1st game of the season and in the final regular season game of the season to seal a playoff berth. Walsh’s 141 points set a Vikings rookie record and ranks 2nd in NFL history by a rookie. Jared Allen had a record-setting 2011 with 22.0 sacks, setting a new team record and falling just shy of the NFL record of 22.5 en route to finishing runner-up in Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors along with notching a sack in a team-record 13 games during the season.
Frazier notched a 3-3 record on an interim basis in the final 6 games of 2010, including winning his opening contest at Washington and an upset win over eventual NFC East champion Philadelphia on the road. His steady and consistent personality and coaching style helped the Vikings prepare weekly under unprecedented circumstances in a harrowing three-week span. The team endured the collapse of the roof on their home stadium, forcing the club to play consecutive “home” games at Detroit’s Ford Field against the NY Giants and at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota against the Chicago Bears. Following the chaotic two weeks, the team experienced a two-day weather delay of a Sunday Night Football game at Philadelphia to Tuesday night, turning a routine road trip into a three-night extended stay.
The Vikings 2010 defense ended the season ranked #8 in the NFL, the 3rd straight season the Vikings ranked in the top 10 in total defense for the first time since 1992-94. Offensively, the Vikings were stifled by injuries and started 3 QBs and centers during the season. The running game continued to excel as Pro Bowler Adrian Peterson notched 1,298 yards and 12 TDs. team was forced through injuries to turn to rookie QB Joe Webb to start the final 2 games of the season, winning his debut in an upset at Philadelphia.
Frazier’s defense led the NFL in 2009 with 48.0 sacks and the team ranks 5th in the NFL with 162.0 sacks from 2007-10. The Vikings defense ranked #6 in the NFL in 2009, the 2nd straight season ranked #6 in total defense. The mark was the 1st time since 1993-94 the team ranked in the NFL’s top 10 in consecutive seasons.
Frazier has also helped his players achieve at a high level and has had 4 players earn 5 NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors in the past 4 seasons. Frazier has also had 6 players (Allen, E.J. Henderson, Darren Sharper, Kevin Williams, Pat Williams and Antoine Winfield) earn a total of 13 Pro Bowl berths.
The 2009 Vikings used a dynamic front line to continue their tradition of stopping the run and put pressure on opposing QBs. The unit ranked #2 in the NFL against the run after leading the league for the previous 3 seasons. The Vikings tied for the NFL lead by allowing only 5 rushing TDs. The NFL-best 48 sacks posted by the Vikings was the 5th-most in team history and Allen led the way with 14.5. Allen and DT Kevin Williams were both recognized as Associated Press 1st Team All-Pros and were named to the Pro Bowl along with CB Antoine Winfield.
Frazier’s 2008 defensive unit ranked #6 overall in the NFL and #1 in the league against the run, making the Vikings the 1st squad since the 1970 AFL/NFL merger to lead the league in rushing defense for 3 straight seasons. The Vikings #6 rank in total defense was the highest since the 1994 season. Of the teams ranked in the top 6 in the NFL, the other 5 had ranked in the NFL’s top 10 in 2007 while the Vikings were #20 in 2007, making a 14-position improvement in 2008. The 2008 Vikings defense featured 4 players earning Pro Bowl berths, including 3 defensive linemen with Allen, DTs Kevin Williams and Pat Williams and rounded out with 10th-year CB Winfield earning his 1st Pro Bowl honors. The Vikings dominant line showed prowess as pass rushers as well as against the run. Allen tied for 5th in the NFL with 14.5 sacks and the team total of 45 ranked 4th in the NFL. The Vikings ranked 3rd in the NFL in 2008 by allowing only a 33.5% conversion rate on 3rd down and were 5th in the NFL by allowing 15.8 offensive points per game.
The 2008 Vikings had to overcome the season-ending injury to emerging star E.J. Henderson at MLB in the 4th game and did not have the services of priority free agent signee Madieu Williams at FS until the 9th game of the year as he recovered from preseason injury. The club lost its top nickel back, Charles Gordon, for the 2nd half of the season and 3-time Pro Bowl DT anchor Pat Williams was sidelined the final 2 regular season games and Wild Card playoffs with a shoulder injury. The depth of the roster and the preparation of the coaching staff kept the team on track despite those setbacks.
In his debut season with the Vikings in 2007, the team maintained its dominance against the run, posting the #1 rush defense in the NFL and allowed a mere 3.1 yards per carry. The anchors of the Vikings defense, DTs Kevin Williams and Pat Williams, were joined by S Darren Sharper as Pro Bowl honorees, the most defensive Vikings to earn trips to Hawaii since 1992.
Frazier’s defense was opportunistic, scoring on 6 interception returns to tie a Vikings record and added a pair of TDs on fumble recoveries. The Vikings’ 6 scores by interception return ranks tied for 5th-most in a season in NFL history. The team scored on 3 interceptions in a key road game against the NY Giants to set a team record against the eventual Super Bowl XLII champions. The Vikings tied for 3rd in the NFL in 2007 by allowing only 7 rushing TDs and were 5th in the NFC in total offensive points allowed, an average of 17.8 points per game.
The Vikings defense responded to new faces and new positions with impressive performances in 2007. The team was led in tackles by E.J. Henderson’s career-high 155 tackles in his 1st season playing MLB since 2004. Henderson added a career-best 4.5 sacks and led the team with a career-best 14 tackles for loss while earning Pro Bowl alternate honors and garnering All-Pro votes. The Vikings LBs entered 2007 with only SLB Ben Leber playing his same position from the previous year. One of the most impressive individual performances came from 2nd-year WLB Chad Greenway, who missed his 2006 rookie season with a knee injury but came back in 2007 to rank 2nd on the team with 130 tackles, lead the NFL with 4 fumble recoveries and have a pair of interceptions, including scoring his 1st career TD.
The 2007 Vikings rush defense was the envy of the NFL, allowing 74.1 yards per game on the ground and allowed only 1 opponent RB to break the 100-yard mark.
Frazier came to Minnesota after coaching DBs with Indianapolis and serving as Special Assistant to Head Coach Tony Dungy for 2 seasons. The 2006 Colts defense clamped down on opponents throughout the playoff run that brought the franchise its 1st Super Bowl title since 1970. The team notched 7 interceptions, 8 sacks and took away 6 fumbles. The Indy defense allowed only 2 second-half TDs in the 4 post-season games and held the Bears out of the end zone for the final 3 quarters of Super Bowl XLI en route to the win.
In his 1st season with Indianapolis in 2005, Frazier helped S Bob Sanders earn a berth in the Pro Bowl in his 1st season as a full-time starter and became the 1st Colts DB to play in the game since 1971. The Colts ranked 11th in the NFL in total defense after ranking 29th overall in 2004 and improved in yards allowed per game from 370.6 per game to 307.1.
Prior to his tenure with Indianapolis, Frazier served as defensive coordinator with Cincinnati in 2003 and ’04 where he helped the Bengals go .500 in consecutive seasons for the 1st time in 12 seasons. Frazier’s NFL coaching debut came from 1999-2002 with Philadelphia where he worked with the Eagles DBs. Frazier helped CB Troy Vincent earn 4 Pro Bowl berths, S Brian Dawkins went to the game 3 times and Bobby Taylor appear in the all-star game once. The trio all earned Pro Bowl recognition in 2002. Frazier was part of an impressive program-building project in Philadelphia that saw the team improve from a 5-11 record in 1999 to 11-5 in 2000, 11-5 in 2001 and 12-4 in 2002. The team advanced to the playoffs in each of Frazier’s final 3 seasons with the Eagles, including winning the NFC East in 2001 and ’02 and advancing to the NFC Championship game in both seasons.
Frazier had spent 11 seasons coaching at the collegiate level before returning to the NFL. In 1997 and ’98 he worked with the DBs at Illinois on Ron Turner’s staff, who Frazier would face 10 seasons later in the Super Bowl. The staff was part of an impressive rebuilding project with the Illini.
Building programs was not unusual for Frazier before going to Illinois and the Eagles. He started the Trinity College football program from the ground up as the school started a football team with Frazier as head coach in 1988. Frazier turned the team into a winner, claiming Northern Illinois Intercollegiate Conference titles twice. The school, now known as Trinity International University, named the football field in Frazier’s honor in 1997 in tribute to his impact on the campus.
As a player, Frazier was part of the legendary Chicago Bears defense that keyed the Super Bowl XX win over New England. He was a starter at CB on the 1985 Super Bowl team and played for the Bears from 1981-86. He led Chicago in interceptions in 1983, ’84 and ’85 but his career was cut short by a severe knee injury suffered in the Super Bowl. During his career he had 20 INTs in 65 games and returned a pair for TDs. Frazier was an All-America DB and baseball standout at Alcorn State University. In 2007, Frazier was inducted into the SWAC Hall of Fame and in 2012 he earned induction into the Alcorn State Hall of Fame. Frazier was honored by the Fritz Pollard Alliance during its Salute to Excellence Awards during Super Bowl XLVII week activities in New Orleans.
Frazier was born (4/3/59) in Columbus, MS and attended S.D. Lee High. Frazier and wife, Gale, have 3 children- Kieron, Chantel and Corey, who plays DB at Rice. He holds a degree in business administration and was active in Fellowship of Christian Athletes throughout his playing career. Frazier works closely with All-Pro Dad, an organization that stresses fathers taking an active role and putting family first.