The search that began with Sean McDermott ended a week later with the Buffalo Bills hiring him as their 20th head coach Wednesday.
Team owners Terry and Kim Pegula flew McDermott, who had been in New York Tuesday to interview for the San Francisco 49ers' head-coaching vacancy, to their home in Boca Raton, Fla., Wednesday to finalize the deal. The Bills will introduce McDermott at a news conference on Friday, at a time to be determined, at One Bills Drive.
“We believe we have hired a smart, determined and hard-working head coach who has been training for many years to achieve this goal," Terry Pegula said in a press release the team issued Wednesday night. "Sean is an ambitious leader who has the desire to lead this organization to compete for and ultimately win a Super Bowl.
"We look forward to working with Sean for many years to come."
Although General Manager Doug Whaley led the Bills' latest coaching search, it was the Pegulas who were the most enamored with McDermott when they first met with him over dinner on their yacht last week in Boca Raton before a formal interview the next day that included the Pegulas, Whaley, and Bills director of player personnel Jim Monos.
The Bills interviewed three other candidates: interim head coach Anthony Lynn, Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin, and Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard.
McDermott's contract is expected to cover five years, the same length as the agreement the Bills reached with McDermott's predecessor, Rex Ryan, in 2015.
Ryan was fired with one game left in the 2016 season. The Bills elevated Lynn from offensive coordinator to interim head coach for their season-ending loss against the New York Jets on Jan. 1.
“I am very appreciative of the opportunity to become the Buffalo Bills new head coach and join the rich tradition of Bills football," McDermott said in the club's release. "I am looking forward to connecting with our players, Bills staff and the passionate fan base. I want to thank Terry and Kim and I look forward to working with Doug and the entire football department.”
In the same release, Whaley said: “Sean McDermott is an excellent football coach and we feel he is the perfect leader for this team. Sean’s intelligence, leadership qualities and vision for our team impressed us throughout the interview process. I am excited to begin working with Coach McDermott and his staff."
McDermott and Whaley are expected to collaborate on the selection of the 53-man roster, something Whaley had overseen on his own since becoming GM in 2013.
McDermott, 42, becomes the 20th head coach (including interims) in the 57-year history of the franchise. He is their third in four seasons, going back to Doug Marrone's resignation after the 2014 campaign.
McDermott's football-playing experience is limited to high school and college. He was an All-Southeastern Pennsylvania pick at defensive back, as well as a two-time national-champion wrestler at La Salle College (Pa.) High School. He was an all-conference safety at William and Mary.
McDermott got his start in coaching in 1998 as a graduate assistant at William and Mary.
One year later, he was in the NFL, as scouting administrative coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1999 to 2000. In 2001, he was promoted to assistant to then-head coach Andy Reid.
From 2002 to 2008, McDermott held the following positions as he worked his way up the Eagles' defensive staff:
*2002-2003: Defensive assistant and quality control
*2004-2006: Assistant defensive backs coach
*2007: Secondary coach
*2008: Linebackers coach
In 2009, McDermott was promoted to defensive coordinator to temporarily replace his mentor, Jim Johnson, after Johnson took a medical leave. McDermott took the job full-time after Johnson eventually succumbed to cancer.
In his first season of running a defense, the Eagles ranked 12th in the NFL in total yards allowed and 19th in points allowed. A year later, in 2010, the Eagles remained in 12th place in yards allowed, but fell to 21st in points given up.
After the 2010 season, the Eagles fired McDermott, who joined the Panthers in 2011. After the Panthers ranked 28th and 27th in the league in yards and points allowed, respectively, they put together four seasons where they were no lower than 10th in yards allowed (ranking as high as second in 2013). They were 18th in the NFL in points allowed in 2012, second in 2013, 21st in 2014, and sixth in 2015. They were also sixth in points allowed in '15.
Last season, McDermott's defense fell to 21st in yards allowed and 26th in points allowed, but were second in the NFL in sacks.