Things to know about Bills new head coach Sean McDermott - The Buffalo News
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Things to know about Bills new head coach Sean McDermott

Sean McDermott interviewed to be the Bills' head coach last Jan. 4 and agreed to take the position after another meeting Wednesday.

Here are some things to know about him.

Previous position: Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator.

Age: 42.

Born: Omaha, Nebraska, but went to high school near Philadelphia.

Playing career: Played safety at William & Mary.

Experience: McDermott has 16 years coaching in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers. He got into the league as a defensive quality control coach with the Eagles in 2001 under Andy Reid. He worked his way up through the organization, serving as assistant defensive backs coach, secondary coach and linebackers coach before becoming the defensive coordinator. He earned the same role with the Panthers in 2011 after being fired by the Eagles.

Beginning in McDermott’s second season in Carolina, his defense posted four consecutive top-10 finishes in total yards allowed, including a second overall finish in 2013 while giving up just 15.1 points per game. The Panthers regressed this year, though, finishing 21st in yards and 26th in points per game.

Pros: Hiring a defensive coach like McDermott could be a sign that the Bills feel they are playoff-ready if they can fix the defense. McDermott has been to the playoffs numerous times and was part of the Panthers’ league-best 15-1 team in 2015, when they went to the Super Bowl. He generated head-coaching interest last season as well, interviewing with Cleveland and Tampa Bay, but both teams hired coaches before the Panthers were eliminated from the playoffs.

Cons: The largest contributing factor to the Bills’ playoff drought has been the lack of a franchise quarterback. One line of thought is that the Bills should bring in an offensive mind who could develop a quarterback, and McDermott doesn't check that box. Additionally, it can be hard to determine how much success should be credited to the coach and how much should go to the players. McDermott’s best seasons coincide with having elite talent linebacker Luke Kuechly and corner Josh Norman, but his unit slumped after Norman went to Washington.

Fun fact: McDermott was college teammates with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.

Quotable: “Phenomenal football coach,” Reid told the Charlotte Observer of McDermott earlier this year. “(The Panthers defense is) getting coached like crazy by a guy who is going to be a future head coach in this league.”

Other head coaching interviews: McDermott reportedly met with the Chargers and 49ers.

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