The day after the Buffalo Bills' season ended with a loss to the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game, cornerback Tre'Davious White was asked about defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and the potential of his becoming the Houston Texans' next head coach. White smiled for a second, while rubbing his beard, before confessing emphatically, "I don't like that idea at all."
Of course, White said it for selfish reasons. He wants Frazier to remain in Buffalo and continue to be the point man for that defense. While talking with members of Frazier's defense in recent weeks, it appeared that White's sentiment around -- and feelings for -- the 61-year-old are universally shared.
"He's just a leader," safety Jordan Poyer told me. "He wants the best for his players."
"He's just great all around," said linebacker Matt Milano. "You can tell he really cares about his players. That's the one thing I've noticed playing for him for four years. He's on your side. He's not against you. He's not looking to hurt you. He wants the best out of everybody, and puts you in position to do that."
"He's a great person, great coach, but an even better person," said linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. "I think that's the biggest thing: earning that respect from your players. (Like I said,) everybody respects Coach Frazier here."
Since arriving in Buffalo in 2017, Frazier's Bills defense ranks second in opponent's passer rating and passing yards allowed, fifth in total yards allowed and takeaways and sixth in points allowed. That looks pretty good on a resume that already includes one previous stint as a head coach (with the Minnesota Vikings from 2010 to '13) and multiple stops as a defensive coordinator. In 15 seasons as either a head coach or coordinator, Frazier's defenses have ranked in the top 20 10 times, including six times in the top 10.
What's unique about the soft-spoken Frazier is how he gets his point across. In fact, I openly wondered if he ever yells at his players.
"Yeah, yeah, he does," laughed Poyer, before clarifying. "It's not like yelling at you but telling you to get his point across, or getting attention. That's a good question."
Has he ever yelled at you, Matt Milano?
"A couple of times," he said. "I wouldn't consider it yelling. But his voice definitely does change when he's a little angry."
"He's just great all around. You can tell he really cares about his players. That's the one thing I've noticed playing for him for four years." Bills linebacker Matt Milano
"He has a way of yelling, you know what I mean?" said Edmunds. "He gets his point across without raising his voice too much, but at the same time, you know exactly what he's meaning when he's saying it, what the tone is in his voice."
Perhaps that's the former player in Frazier. He spent five years with the Chicago Bears, from 1981 to '85, actually leading that historic '85 defense in interceptions with six before blowing out his knee in a lopsided win over the Patriots in Super Bowl XX. Frazier never returned to play again, speeding his transition into the coaching ranks.
"He's the type of guy that never gets too high, never gets too low," said safety Micah Hyde. "I think him being a former player, I think, plays a part in that, because as a player, you can't be up and down. With myself, like I can't, if I have a good game, I can't get too high. If I have a bad game, I can't get too low. You have to stay in the middle, because that's how you continue to get better. And I think that's how Fraze is."
"He puts confidence in guys," added Poyer, who, like White, Hyde and Milano, joined Buffalo the same year Frazier did (Edmunds arrived in 2018). "He'll tell you if you're not doing something right, and he'll credit you for doing the right job. He's a coach that helped me excel throughout my career -- my four years here -- I learned a lot about the game through Fraze."
So we know Frazier can teach. We know players relate to him and he relates to the players. Can he lead?
I'll let Milano handle this.
"He stays calm. That's one thing I've noticed. When things get a little rough on the sideline, he's the one that's being calm, making adjustments and getting us in the right positions."
And that, in turn, gives the players confidence.
"Absolutely. Calm breeds calm."