Frazier's temperament could be asset for Lions
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- It's way too early to start speculating on favorites for Detroit's head-coaching job. (Although it's only fair to point out that two of the candidates -- Washington secondary coach Jerry Gray and Miami assistant head coach Todd Bowles -- are former teammates of Lions general manager Martin Mayhew.)
|Paul Jasienski/Getty Images|
|Leslie Frazier interviewed for the head job in Miami and Atlanta last year and reportedly was the No. 2 choice of both clubs.|
Even so, there is a feeling around the NFL that Minnesota defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier has many of the characteristics the Lions are looking for. His even-keeled personality suggests he has the patience to endure a long rebuilding process and a committee-style front office. His schematic background indicates a willingness to incorporate multiple ideas rather than following a formulaic philosophy. ("Whatever is most effective based on our personnel," Frazier said Thursday.)
And his role in Super Bowl victories as a player (Chicago, 1986) and a coach (Indianapolis, 2006) would bring a champion's perspective to a woebegone franchise.
Where that all leads is anybody's guess. But Frazier said Thursday he is intrigued by the Lions' job and would like to interview with Detroit next week if the Vikings' schedule allows it.
"It's always good if people are checking you out and looking into you a little bit," Frazier said. "But the big focus right now is the Eagles. I'm flattered Detroit would show interest, and I hope at some point to get a chance to talk to them about their position, but not at the risk of our not going on deep into the playoffs. I hope that we can win this weekend and just keep going. If something were to happen with a team when the season is over, that would be outstanding. But a lot of things are out of my control. I just want us to do well in the playoffs. I think it would be great for our organization."
The NFL now allows assistants of playoff teams to interview for jobs even if there is no bye week. That means Frazier could meet with the Lions early next week even if the Vikings defeat Philadelphia on Sunday and move on to the divisional round of the playoffs. The St. Louis Rams might also be interested in an interview next week, according to ESPN's Chris Mortsensen.
One obstacle could be if the Vikings are scheduled for a Saturday game and have a short practice week.
"If the schedule would allow it, I'd do it [next week]," Frazier said. "If we play on a Saturday, we'll see what happens."
Frazier made positive impressions last offseason during interviews with Miami and Atlanta and was said to be the No. 2 choice of both teams. His soft-spoken personality -- if it's possible, he's known as a calmer Tony Dungy -- will make him attractive to some teams and a turnoff for others. But his experience with the Dolphins and Falcons last year reinforced his belief he should portray his true personality rather than ramp up his demeanor.
"You really have to be who you are," he said. "You want people to hire that person, as opposed to what they think they're getting and then you get there, and they say, 'Oh, I didn't know he was like that.' ... If it works out, it does. And if it doesn't, at least you know you were true to who you believe in. That means for me, it's not going to work out everywhere. My personality and what I believe in, that's going to be different for some people. That's the way it goes."
Frazier actually has experience as a head coach, having started the program at Trinity International (Ill.) University and coaching there from 1988-96. And as the Vikings' assistant head coach this season, Frazier has been seen frequently consulting with coach Brad Childress during game-management decisions.
"There have been a number of occasions when he and I have talked during the course of games about certain situations," Frazier said. "He's been great in that regard. Part of it has to do with how it affects our defense, field position and so on. It's been great for me to be able to discuss situations in the heat of the moment, to get a feel for how he's thinking and also how I should be thinking in those situations."
Generally speaking, Frazier is the type of man you hope good things happen to. Which has left me a bit conflicted about this situation. Historically, the Lions' job is where coaches go to never be heard from again. Other than 2005 interim coach Dick Jauron, no Lions head coach has survived his gig in Detroit and gotten another NFL head-coaching job in more than 30 years. On the other hand, there are only 32 head-coaching jobs available. Only the most sought-after candidates can afford to be choosy.