American Football Database
American Football Database
Joe Collier
Personal information
Date of birth (1932-06-07) June 7, 1932 (age 89)
Place of birth Rock Island, Illinois
Career information
Position(s) Defensive coordinator
Head coach
College Northwestern University
Head coaching record
Regular season 12–16–1
Postseason 0–1–0
Career record 13–16–1
Team(s) as a coach/administrator



Buffalo Bills
(Defensive coordinator)
Buffalo Bills
(Head coach)
Denver Broncos
(Defensive coordinator)
New England Patriots
(Defensive coordinator)

Joel D. Collier (born June 7, 1932) is a former American football coach. He was head coach of the American Football League's Buffalo Bills from 1966 through part of 1968, compiiling a 13–16–1 record.

Collier attended Northwestern University, where he played on the school's football team. In 1952, his junior season, he broke Big Ten Conference records by catching seven touchdown passes and accumulating 650 receiving yards.[1] Following the 1953 college football season, in which he captained the Wildcats, Collier was selected by the New York Giants in the 22nd round of the 1954 NFL Draft.[2][3] However, Collier decided not to play professional football, instead becoming an assistant coach at Western Illinois University after a three-year stint in the U.S. Army.[1]

After spending two seasons as an assistant coach with the Boston Patriots of the brand new AFL,[4] Collier joined the Buffalo Bills in 1962 and was promoted to head coach in 1966.[2] The Bills' best season under Collier came in his first year, when they won the Eastern Division with a 9–4–1 record, eventually losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFL Championship Game.[5] After coming within one game of an AFL championship, the team slumped to 4–10 in 1967.[6] After a poor performance by the Bills in a 1968 pre-season game, Collier set up a scrimmage for his team. During the practice session, quarterback Jack Kemp broke his right leg, an injury that forced him to undergo season-ending surgery.[7] The Bills fired Collier after a 48–6 loss to the Oakland Raiders in the second week of the regular season.[8] Sports Illustrated opined that "Collier's fate undoubtedly was decided..." by Kemp's injury.[9]

Following his time as head coach of the Bills, Collier became a Denver Broncos coach in 1969 and spent 20 years with the team, who reached three Super Bowls with him as defensive coordinator. Collier was the architect of the Broncos' 3-4 defense in the late 1970s, a scheme that was known as the Orange Crush Defense.[10] After being hired by Lou Saban, he remained the defensive coordinator for four subsequent Broncos head coaches.[11] Dan Reeves fired Collier after the 1988 NFL season.[10] From 1991 to 1992, he was defensive coordinator for the New England Patriots.[4]

Collier's son, Joel Collier, was hired in February 2009 by Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, a former executive for the Patriots, as a defensive backs coach for Chiefs head coach Todd Haley.[12] Prior to that, Collier was the secondary coach of the New England Patriots, but was not retained following their 2007 season. Before his stint with the Patriots, he spent 11 years as an assistant for the Miami Dolphins.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Joe Collier Profile". Northwestern University. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Bills Name Joel Collier Head Coach". St. Petersburg Times. Associated Press. 1966-01-07.,4147549. Retrieved 2011-08-13.
  3. "1954 NFL Player Draft". Database Football. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Joel Collier". New England Patriots. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
  5. "1966 Buffalo Bills". Pro Football Reference. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
  6. "1967 Buffalo Bills". Pro Football Reference. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
  7. Maule, Tex; Shrake, Edwin (1968-09-16). "Eastern Division". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
  8. "Owner Regrets The Firing Of Collier". The Miami News. Associated Press. 1968-09-16.,372021. Retrieved 2011-08-13.
  9. "A Roundup Of The Sports Information Of The Week". Sports Illustrated. 1968-09-23. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Associated Press (1988-12-19). "Broncos Dismiss Collier". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
  11. Gustkey, Earl (1986-11-01). "He Puts the D in Denver: Joe Collier Has Been Bronco Defensive Coordinator for 18 Seasons, 5 Head Coaches". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-08-13.
  12. "Chiefs retain offensive coordinator Chan Gailey as Haley fills staff". USA Today. Associated Press. 2009-02-17. Retrieved 2009-05-02.

External links

Preceded by
Harvey Johnson
Buffalo Bills Defensive Coordinator
Succeeded by
Dick McCabe
Preceded by
Denver Broncos Defensive Coordinator
Succeeded by
Wade Phillips
Preceded by
Rod Rust
New England Patriots Defensive Coordinator
Succeeded by
Al Groh