Sean McDermott smiled Monday when he was asked about his honeymoon phase coming to an abrupt end after his first loss as a head coach. McDermott has had a relatively easy ride since he was hired in January, but the questions became more pointed and less polite during his session with the media.
It should be expected when a team scores three points in a loss, as the Bills did Sunday in an abysmal offensive performance in a 9-3 defeat to Carolina. The Panthers exposed the Bills for what they were Sunday, a one-dimensional offense with a great running back and a quarterback incapable of carrying a team with his arm.
The Bills can expect other teams in the coming weeks to follow the Panthers' blueprint after they shut down LeSean McCoy and took their chances with Tyrod Taylor in the passing game. As has been the case many times during his two-plus year career with the Bills, the starting quarterback came up woefully short.
Already, you can hear Bills fans clamoring for rookie Nathan Peterman while pleading for McDermott to pull the plug on Taylor. Certainly, the kid could have been as effective as Taylor, who was 17 of 25 for a measly 125 yards. He completed just three passes to his wide receivers and had just 74 yards passing before the final drive. He didn't complete a pass longer than 15 yards in the game.
"Taylor is the guy," McDermott said. "Not making a change."
McDermott was asked several questions about Taylor and his shortcomings. He wasn't budging from his stance on his starting quarterback, not yet anyway. But what sounded like defiance was actually intelligence. McDermott isn't making a change any time soon because the kid isn't ready to start in the NFL. The last thing Peterman needs is getting rushed into the starting lineup.
McDermott is a first-year head coach who is finding his way. He's still trying to figure out how to manage the clock let alone his 53-man roster. The pressure will mount in the coming weeks to make a change at the most important position on the field, to address the black hole on the roster since Drew Bledsoe arrived from New England after losing his job to Tom Brady.
For now, McDermott would be wise to resist the urge to pull Taylor and continue developing Peterman behind the scenes. The Bills need to keep their wits about them and understand there is no quick fix. This long and agonizing quarterback search is certain to continue for weeks, month, perhaps years.
The next step is making peace with the idea that they aren’t likely making the playoffs. Their lack of speed and depth at receiver, and their inability to create separation Sunday, exacerbated Taylor's inherent problem with throwing passes on time into tight coverage and contributed to overall problems on offense.
"You stay with the plan," McDermott said. "I've been around a couple coaches that had what I consider pretty good success in this league, one of which is Andy Reid. I've watched when he was in similar situations. He stayed true to his plan. You have to adjust the plan from time to time. Every decision Andy made and every decision we're going to make is in the best interest of this team and this organization."