The value of excellent coaching cannot be forgotten when identifying the reasons that an NFL franchise is successful. With the exception of a handful of players, the talent level is very similar among players in the league. The main difference is having a coach who is able to draw out the confidence within each player.
The Baltimore Ravens recently hired Leslie Frazier to be the secondary coach. Frazier has found success previously as a defensive coordinator and assistant coach. He will look to bring that success to the Ravens in 2016. Frazier was able to coach one of the best groups of cornerbacks during his first stop in the NFL, which came with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999.
While with the Eagles, Frazier helped develop Al Harris, a young defensive back from Texas A&M Kingsfield University. He also worked with veteran corners Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor. The Eagles drafted safety Brian Dawkins in 1996. He made the first of many Pro Bowls in 1999 and was named second team All-Pro in his first season working with Frazier. If things go as planned for the Ravens, he will have a similar effect on their safeties.
The Ravens have had a goal of increasing takeaways by the secondary over the last two seasons. They had a total of six interceptions last season, a franchise low. Jimmy Smith led the team with three interceptions. C.J. Mosley and Haloti Ngata led the team with two interceptions each in 2014. The team had a total of 11 interceptions that year.
Frazier became the defensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2003 and his impact was felt immediately. He was with the Bengals from 2003 to 2004. In just his first season with the Bengals, he helped turn the unit into a group that increased takeaways from 24 in 2003 to 36 in 2004.
The Bengals had 36 takeaways in 2004 and ranked third in the NFL. The team also had 20 interceptions, which was the most for the Bengals since 1996. The Bengals’ defense improved from 28th in the league in total yards allowed in 2003 to 19th in 2004, and declined in the two years following his dismissal.
The Ravens are hoping that Frazier can have a similar influence on their defense. Former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy hired Frazier to work with a young group of defensive backs in 2005. The Colts were able to score a lot of points, but they couldn’t stop teams from scoring more.
Frazier helped improve the Colts passing defense improved from 15th in 2005 to second in 2006. One of the young defensive backs that he worked with during that time was Bob Sanders. Sanders went on to be named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2007.
The Colts defense found a way to match the production from the offense and beat the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl in 2007 as a result. Frazier won a Super Bowl as a player in 1985 with the Bears.
Next, Frazier spent an extensive amount of time with the Minnesota Vikings as a defensive coordinator and head coach. He was the defensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers prior to joining the Ravens staff this season.
Frazier should be able to have a strong influence on the Ravens secondary. He has coached a number of players that have been named all-pro. This would not be the first time that he has been called upon to help turn things around for a team. He will need to help the secondary find ways to get to the football if the Ravens plan on finding success on defense.