Sean McDermott's his first big test when it comes to clock management came Sunday against the Carolina Panthers.
The situation: First and 20 at the Carolina 32-yard line, with two timeouts remaining and 53 seconds left in the game.
The play: Quarterback Tyrod Taylor scrambles right and is tackled inbounds by linebacker Luke Kuechly with 48 seconds remaining.
The call: McDermott elects not to use timeout.
The result: The clock keeps ticking ... and ticking ... and ticking until the Bills run their second-down play, with Taylor getting the snap with 30 seconds left.
The explanation from McDermott on Monday: "Yeah, you know, those can go either way. What I was looking at there really was real estate. I felt like we had some real estate, a significant amount, to cover. I felt like if we could get the ball into the medium red zone area and then get it down to taking one more shot, so I wanted to make sure at that point we could save the timeouts if we needed them.
"When you look at the film, you could see that what I was seeing during the game was Tyrod, you know, and the routes were close enough, I felt like, where we could get back and get the play snapped. Those can really go either way. If Zay is touched down, on that last play, if we burn those timeouts, he's touched down, the clock runs out, so I wanted to make sure we had one in the bank for sure. I know at that point, we had two, which we burned one before the fourth-down play. ... So those can go either way. You know, those are things I'm going to continue to learn and look at myself for. That's certainly something I'm taking a hard look at as well."
Had rookie receiver Zay Jones been able to come up with the catch on fourth down, but not reached the end zone, it's true the Bills would have been able to take a timeout and get another chance. But taking a timeout after the first-down play also would have preserved 18 seconds, so the idea that the clock would have run out if everything else remains the same is not true.