Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and the late Greg Knapp have been selected as the Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman Award winners by the Professional Football Writers of America.
Frazier and Knapp are the 19th and 20th recipients of the Dr. Z Award, which was instituted by the PFWA in 2014.
The Dr. Z Award is given for lifetime achievement as an assistant coach in the NFL. The award is named for Zimmerman, who covered the NFL for 29 years as Sports Illustrated’s lead pro football writer.
Zimmerman is widely considered one of the most influential football writers of all time, and his 1970 “A Thinking Man’s Guide to Pro Football” and revised 1984 “The New Thinking Man’s Guide to Pro Football” are textbooks to this day for young football writers trying to learn the game — and trying to learn to write about the game. He started to cover the NFL in 1966, and he began at Sports Illustrated in 1979. Zimmerman stayed at SI until his writing career was cut short by a series of strokes in November 2008. He served as PFWA president during the 1982 season.
Frazier is in his 24th season as a coach in the NFL in 2022, and his sixth with Buffalo as defensive coordinator. He also has been Bills assistant head coach since 2020. In 2021, Buffalo had the NFL’s No. 1 total defense in yards allowed and the No. 1 scoring defense.
And in 2020, the defense was third in total takeaways. Frazier’s Buffalo defenses have been ranked in the NFL’s top five in total yards in three of the past four seasons.
Knapp had just started his 26th season as an NFL assistant coach when he was killed in a bicycle accident in July 2021 after he had joined the New York Jets as passing game coordinator.
He was hired by the 49ers in 1995, and he was San Francisco’s offensive quality control coach (1995-97), quarterbacks coach (1998-2000) and offensive coordinator (2001-03).
Knapp was offensive coordinator for Atlanta (2004-06), Oakland (2007-08) and Seattle (2009). He was the quarterbacks coach in Houston in 2010-11, and he returned to the Raiders as offensive coordinator in 2012. He joined Denver in 2013 as quarterbacks coach, and he added passing game coordinator duties from 2014-16. He rejoined Atlanta as quarterbacks coach (2018-20), before he was hired by the Jets.
Other 2022 nominees for the Dr. Z Award were longtime Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers coach/defensive coordinator Keith Butler, the late defensive line coach Bobb McKittrick, and the late defensive coordinator Floyd Peters.
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