It's homecoming week for Sean McDermott, but the Buffalo Bills' coach did his best to downplay the significance of that Monday.
McDermott will take the AFC East-leading Bills to Carolina for a Week Two meeting with the Panthers, with whom he spent the past six seasons as defensive coordinator. Surely this date had to be highlighted on the calendar, right coach?
"I acknowledge that they’re the next opponent, they’re certainly a good opponent," McDermott deadpanned Monday, a day after his team opened the season with a 21-12 win over the New York Jets. "We respect the heck out of every opponent, and Carolina has a talented, talented football team. I really appreciate the time that I spent there, great people around that organization, and it’ll be a huge challenge for us to go down there, it’s their home opener. But I also know the work we have to put in this week, so that’s where my focus really is right now."
That's exactly the type of answer a football coach is programmed to say. McDermott didn't stop there with his praise of the Panthers, either.
"It’s a great organization, they do things the right way, they’ve won a ton of games, and they have a very, very talented football team," he said. "They’ve added to that through free agency, at first glance this year that I can tell, and they had a good, solid draft. A lot of respect for what they do and how they do things."
But what about the advantage your team must gain from how long you were there, coach?
"I don’t know about that, I’m not out there playing, so that’s hard to say, an advantage," he said. "We’ve got to put in our time and earn the right to win, in which we plan on doing that."
Make that 2 for 2 with the coach speak.
How about leading the AFC East all by yourself though?
"It feels good to be 1-0, it really does. I’ll be human for a second," he said, eliciting some laughs. "Is that what you’re looking for? It feels good to be 1-0, I’m extremely proud of the guys, I really am."
That happiness doesn't mean McDermott loved everything about Sunday's win. Afterward, he said he had a "long list" of things that could be improved. He went into detail on some of those items Monday.
"I would start off with missed opportunities in the first half," he said. "When you looked at yardage wise, at least in the first half, offense vs. defense, we had opportunities to put points on the board in the first half, which we didn’t capitalize on, which we have to and will do going forward.
"Then, penalties, changing the field position on special teams. We were having a change of possession in one particular situation, with punt return, and we had a costly penalty on us, and that changed field position."
McDermott was referring to an illegal block above the waist called on rookie Matt Milano that did cost the Bills 15 yards in field position.
The biggest issue that McDermott saw, however, dealt with the team's four-minute offense.
"As well as we played at times offensively, I thought we could have finished the game off in a more commanding approach offensively," he said. "We didn’t get that done."
After the Bills went ahead 21-12 in the fourth quarter, the team went three-and-out on its next two possessions, so it's fair to say the killer instinct needed to put the game away Sunday was missing. It wasn't until the Bills got the ball back with 3:51 left that the offense was finally able to pick up a first down, killing valuable time off the clock.
Left tackle Cordy Glenn played 56 of 77 offensive snaps Sunday, with rookie Dion Dawkins spelling him for the other 21. Glenn missed most of the preseason with a left foot injury.
"The acclamation process continues as far as Cordy goes," McDermott said. "There’s constant communication with Cordy and our training room staff, in terms of how the plan will adjust from day-to-day, from week-to-week. I thought Cordy did a good job, and the important part is that he came out healthy. By all reports, from what we can tell, that’s where he is right now, and now it’s about how we handle this week moving forward. I did like Jordan (Mills) on the right side, and I thought Dion coming in, another rookie that played yesterday, significant time, did a nice job as well."
McDermott said cornerback E.J. Gaines suffered a shoulder contusion against the Jets. His status for Week Two will be updated later in the week. There were no other injuries reported by the team Monday.