ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills have promoted Leslie Frazier to assistant head coach, the team announced Wednesday morning.
He also will continue to serve as the Bills' defensive coordinator, a role his was hired for before the 2017 season.
Although Frazier's defense ranked 26th in yards allowed per game that season, it quickly vaulted up to No. 2 in 2018 (with the league's top pass defense) and No. 3 in 2019.
The longtime NFL coach said conversations about his promotion unofficially began at the NFL combine last week, when team owner Kim Pegula was "very complimentary" of his body of work during a conversation.
When Frazier returned to Buffalo, he sat down with coach Sean McDermott, who explained the team's decision.
"I'm very thankful to Sean, obviously to [co-owner Terry Pegula] and Kim, that they would see that in me to award me this title," Frazier told ESPN. "It means so much that they would have enough confidence that they would be able to see my work and thinking that I was worthy of this title."
Frazier served as head coach of the Vikings from 2010 to 2013.
Despite his success with the Bills defense over the past two years, Frazier's name has rarely, if ever, come up as a candidate for any of the league's head-coach openings -- something he is keenly aware of. He said he takes solace in the recognition he receives from his peers around the league.
"Sometimes it's a little puzzling, but there's not a whole lot I can do about it," Frazier said about the interest in him as a head coach. "I know we've done some good things here, for sure. And when we got to the combine, you have so many of your constituents come up to you and talk about the job that our defense is doing. I mean, that makes you feel pretty good and that means a lot that your peers recognize some of the things we're doing and how we're doing them here in Buffalo.
"Those are some of the things I can't control -- what happens with ownership of other teams and what they're looking for in a head coach -- so it's important to me just to stay locked in on what we're trying to do here and just keep trying to progress."
Frazier started his NFL coaching career with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999 until 2002, where he worked with McDermott on Jim Johnson's defensive staff. He coached with the Cincinnati Bengals and Colts before joining the Vikings.
Frazier's prior experience -- both as a head coach and with McDermott -- made him a priority hire for McDermott when he was named a first-time head coach with Buffalo in 2017.
"Upon taking the job in Buffalo, it was important to me to add a coach with previous head-coaching experience like Leslie," McDermott said. "His fingerprints are all over our operation, and I'm extremely grateful for all the years we have worked together. Leslie's impact on our team is felt every day through his guidance, wisdom and his genuine care for people. He is a great example to everyone within our organization."
Even before his promotion, Frazier said he worked closely with McDermott beyond his defensive coordinator duties, calling himself a "sounding board" for some of McDermott's ideas and strategies throughout the years.
Frazier insists his main focus is still on a defense that returns eight starters before free agency, but he said he has never been pigeonholed into one role.
"I made it a point as much as I can to try to help [McDermott] not make some of the same mistakes I made as a first-year head coach," Frazier said. "Or in my second year or third year, just being able to help [McDermott] see some of the blind spots that are there sometimes when you're so focused on what you have to get done. ... So my role here has been much more than a defensive coordinator -- and that wouldn't have changed even if this title didn't occur. Sean and I still would have had these conversations throughout, and it would have never changed.
"It's important to me that he's successful, and anything I can do to help him succeed is what I'm here to do."
Frazier won Super Bowl XX with the Chicago Bears in 1985. The Bears signed the defensive back after he went undrafted in 1981 following his college career at Alcorn State.
In addition to Frazier's promotion, the Bills announced Marc Lubick as their assistant wide receivers coach and game management coordinator, Jimmy Salgado as their nickel coach, Shea Tierney as their assistant quarterbacks coach, and Ryan Wendell as their assistant offensive line coach.