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Two Quick Candidates Pop Up for New Coach

Former Eagles coach Doug Pederson and Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier were the first two coaching candidates to replace Matt Nagy to surface on Monday.

George McCaskey wasn't kidding when he said the team would start working on replacements immediately for coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace.

On Monday, they looked into talking to one of their own for he coaching vacancy, as well as another coach with a tie to the team of sorts.

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported former Eagles coach Doug Pederson will be interviewed by the Bears. Pederson won the Super Bowl with the Eagles and his tie to the Bears is that he was a good friend and former assistant on a staff with Matt Nagy in Kansas City and in Philadelphia.

The other candidate was known through a request made to the Buffalo Bills and it's former Bears cornerback Leslie Frazier, a member of the fabled 1985 Bears defense and the Buffalo defensive coordinator.

Those who think only offense matters to the Bears in their coaching hunt as long as Justin Fields is their starting quarterback had to be surprised Frazier is a candidate.

The Bears would be serious about speaking to Frazier for several reasons beyond the fact he is a coordinator for a team with a traditionally strong defense.

“Nothing official yet at this point, but I would certainly be very happy for Leslie if he had that opportunity because I think he's earned it,” Bills coach Sean McDermott told Buffalo media Monday.
Frazier enjoyed some success in Minnesota as a head coach even when saddled with the handicap of Christian Ponder as his starting quarterback.

Ponder was the Vikings version of Cade McNown or Rex Grossman. He lasted only four years in the NFL and had a career passer rating of 75.9. Yet, Frazier was able to take the Vikings from 3-13 in his first full year of 2011 to 10-6 in 2012 and a playoff berth. They beat the Bears out for a wild card in that season with the same record, and Lovie Smith was then fired as Bears coach.

Frazier is a tragic figure in Bears lore. He was one of their most talented cornerbacks they ever had, and first earned notoriety when he stole an interception by leaping up and reaching down all the way over the top of Packers defender and then coming away with the ball without making contact. He made 20 interceptions in five seasons.

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The tragedy of his time in Chicago was the foolish way it ended. The Bears ordered up a trick punt return in the Super Bowl while they owned a big lead and he took a handoff from Keith Ortego, then his knee gave out on a cut just before he was tackled and he had torn an ACL. Frazier never played again in the NFL.

Frazier has more than Bears ties to the area. He started the football program at NAIA school Trinity International in Bannockburn, a stone's throw from Lake Forest where Halas Hall is located.

Frazier coached that program for its first nine years before rising up the ranks, first as an Illinois defensive backs coach in 1997-98, then with the Eagles as a defensive backs coach for four years, and Bengals defensive coordinator for two seasons. He coached one year for the Colts and it was the year they beat the Bears in the Super Bowl. A pick-6 made by one of his players—cornerback Kelvin Hayden—stole away Bears chances for a comeback as they were starting a drive toward a possible go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Frazier was Vikings defensive coordinator from 2007-2010 and in 2010 became the interim head coach when they fired Brad Childress. Frazier did a good enough job with a 3-3 record to get hired for 2011 and was kept even when the Vikings went 3-13. They then were 10-6 and earned a playoff berth against Green Bay but lost. He was defensive coordinator in Tampa under Lovie Smith from 2014-15 and a secondary coach in Baltimore for a season before joining the Bills under McDermott as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach.

One of Frazier's assistants in Minnesota was linebackers coach Mike Singletary, the former Bears All-Pro.

Pederson's success is well known for his Super Bowl win with backup Nick Foles as his quarterback in a win over New England, after Carson Wentz was injured during the late season.

With the Eagles, Pederson was 42-37-1 in five seasons and was 13-3 in the Super Bowl season. They made the playoffs from 2017-2019 and he was fired after a tumultuous 2020 season when they went 4-11-1. They were 9-7 in both 2018 and 2019 and 7-9 in 2016.

Pederson, a longtime Packers backup quarterback behind Brett Favre, spent three seasons as Chiefs offensive coordinator while Nagy was with the team as an offensive assistant. He also coached on the Eagles staff under Andy Reid that Nagy was part of from 2009-2012 before returning as their head coach.

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