The Chicago Bears aren't the only team playing in the Super Bowl that runs a defense similar to the Vikings' 2006 version under departed coordinator Mike Tomlin.
Tomlin, the former secondary coach with Tampa Bay, installed the trendy Tampa-2 defense in his first season with the Vikings last year and had enough success with that defense that he was offered and accepted the head coaching job of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ten days after Tomlin accepting that job, the Vikings still haven't announced his replacement, leading to speculation that the team is waiting to interview a defensive position coach from one of the two Super Bowl participants, the Bears and Indianapolis Colts.
Yesterday, we examined the possibilities with Chicago assistant head coach/linebackers Bob Babich, but the Indianapolis Colts have their own defensive position coach – Leslie Frazier – who has two years of experience coordinating an NFL defense, four years of experience working with Vikings head coach Brad Childress, and a successful six-year playing career culminated with a Super Bowl win.
Yeah, that might work.
Frazier came to the Colts in 2005 as a defensive assistant, primarily working with the defensive backs, but, coincidentally, when the Chicago Bears requested in an interview with him for an opening to coach their defensive backs, the Colts changed his title to "special assistant to the head coach/defensive backs" for the 2006 season. That blocked the Colts from having to allow him an opportunity to interview for any coaching spot other than a coordinator or head coaching post.
As almost a mirror opposite of the Vikings 2006 defense, the Colts finished the regular season with the league's worst run defense but were second against the pass. They accomplished that despite also being one of the worst teams at sacking the opposing quarterback.
In 2005, Frazier helped coach a Colts defense that surrendered only 247 points, the lowest 16-game total in Colts franchise history. The 18 interceptions by the Colts defense that year exceeded the number of touchdown passes allowed (17), the first time in more than a decade the Colts had accomplished that. Frazier also helped coach safety Bob Sanders to the Pro Bowl in only his second season in the league, the team's first Pro Bowl defensive back since 1971.
Prior to joining the Colts' coaching staff, Frazier was the defensive coordinator for two seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. He helped turn around the Bengals franchise, taking a team that had a 2-14 record and surrendered 456 points in 2002 and turning it into a team that went 8-8 in 2003 and surrendered 384 points. The Bengals were the most improved team in the league in Frazier's first season there.
In 2004, the Bengals' 36 takeaways were third-most in the league, improving upon their 24 takeaways in 2003.
But it isn't just Frazier's successes in Indianapolis and Cincinnati that might have the Vikings considering him. He also served as defensive backs coach in Philadelphia from 1999-2002, which also spanned Childress's first four seasons with the Eagles as their quarterbacks coach (1999-2001) and offensive coordinator (2002-2005). During Frazier's time in Philadelphia, the Eagles boasted Troy Vincent, Bobby Taylor and Brian Dawkins as Pro Bowl defensive backs in 2002, Frazier's final season there.
Frazier has also coached at the University of Illinois, another former employer of Childress (although their time there never coincided), and built the Trinity College football program in Illinois, becoming its first head coach and turning it into a two-time conference champion.
Frazier was a small-college All-America cornerback at Alcorn State in 1979 and 1980. Ironically, he played for the Chicago Bears from 1981-86 and was part of their Super Bowl XX win over the New England Patriots. He led the Bears in interceptions each of his last three seasons in Chicago, but the end of his career was hastened after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the Super Bowl.
Super Possibilities? Part II
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