Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier was only apart of the Colts coaching staff for two seasons but his impact couldn’t be measured in solely the amount of time he was in Indianapolis.
Frazier joined the Colts staff in 2005 as defensive backs coach and also held the title as a special assistant to head coach Tony Dungy.
The improvements the Colts secondary saw in just one year under Frazier was immense. In 2005, the Colts were ranked No. 15 in pass defense around the league. That number improved all the way to No. 2 the following season as the Colts captured Super Bowl XLI.
“Those were great times,” Frazier said. “I have so many good memories from my time there in Indianapolis. We were rolling pretty good there and to come away with a Super Bowl ring I will never forget that time with Tony, the rest of the staff, the players.”
Frazier’s relationship with Dungy is something that is still strong today and he credits him for helping him become a head coach in the NFL.
In 2007, Frazier joined the Vikings staff as defensive coordinator before becoming Minnesota’s permanent head coach following the 2010 season.
“Tony is a great friend,” Frazier said. “I learned so much from he and the rest of the staff during that time. A lot of these things I learned there in Indianapolis I’ve tried to institute here in Minnesota. That time was very, very important in my development as a coach.”
Only three players remain on the Colts defense from Frazier’s time in Indianapolis.
Outside linebackers Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis were in the middle of their onslaught against opposing quarterbacks recording a combined 37.5 sacks over the two years Frazier coached with the Colts.
With Freeney’s status for Sunday’s game with the Vikings up in the air, Frazier knows first hand what having him on the field means for the Colts defense.
“Dwight is one of those game wreckers,” Frazier said. “He has been for a long, long time. I witnessed him just destroying offenses’ game plans and people just changing their game plans because of Dwight, much like they do here with Jared (Allen).”
“So to do not have Dwight on the field, it would definitely change how offenses approach you and it would change how we would approach the Colts if he didn’t play.”
Mathis was just beginning his third NFL season when Frazier joined the Colts.
The 2006 season was Mathis first as a full-time starter and his first Pro Bowl didn’t come until 2008. It’s that recognition that Frazier believes is something Mathis has never fully received.
“He’s a tremendous talent,” Frazier said of Mathis. “He’s a guy who is sometimes in the shadow of Dwight but opposing teams know they have to have a plan for Robert and they’ve known for a number of year.”
“I admired his talents when I was there. He’s not a guy who looks and seeks the headlines but opposing teams know you better have a plan for Robert Mathis when you line up and play the Colts.”
Following the Colts Super Bowl XLI win, Frazier sat down with Dungy and made a decision that would influence the rest of his coaching career.
A chance to become a coordinator in the NFL would seem like a logical choice for someone in Frazier’s position, but the decision to leave so many friends behind didn’t make the process any easier.
“It was really hard to leave,” Frazier said. “(Former general manager) Bill Polian, the whole organization, Mr. Irsay, everyone was so good to me during the time I was there from top to bottom. They treated me like I was apart of the family and I’ll never forget it and I’ll always be thankful.”
Tags: Bill Polian, Dwight Freeney, Jim Irsay, Leslie Frazier, robert mathis, Tony Dungy
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