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Dungy ‘little surprised' McDermott took over play-calling in Bills-Chargers game

Vontae Davis' abrupt retirement wasn't the only halftime decision from the Bills' game Sunday that caught Tony Dungy off-guard.

The Hall of Fame coach also was "a little surprised" to learn Sean McDermott took the play-calling from defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier — an assistant on Dungy's Indianapolis coaching staff — for the final two quarters of the 31-20 loss against the Chargers.

Dungy couldn't recall being around anything similar during his 28 seasons as an NFL head coach, defensive coordinator or defensive backs coach.

"I've always seen coaches that I worked for kind of lay it out," Dungy, an analyst for NBC's Football Night in America, told The Buffalo News by phone. "Some guys want to call the plays or the defenses, and they do it from the beginning of the year. Some guys don't. I've never been involved with seeing (that move made), in the course of the year, either (by) me or any staff that I've been on."

Dungy said he always left the play-calling to his coordinators during his six seasons as head coach of the Buccaneers (1996-2001) and seven seasons at the helm of the Colts (2002-08).

"But there would be times when I'd say, 'Hey, we want to come after them here,' or, 'We want to do this,' so you'd like to think you're on the same page with your play-caller all the time anyway," Dungy said. "I always thought that my job as head coach was to run the game and to be kind of the orchestrator of the whole thing, and I didn't feel like I could do that, personally, well enough if I was devoting a lot of time to calling one aspect of the game or the other. It's just, personally, I didn't want to do it.

"Now, a lot of (head coaches) have done it and have done it really well and gone into Super Bowls doing it. So there's definitely different ways to skin the cat and everybody does what they're comfortable with. Sean is in his second year as a head coach trying to find out what he is comfortable with. Everybody does it differently, and I don't think there's a right way or a wrong way."

Dungy thinks a head coach and play-caller should have only one goal: putting players in the best position to "execute and win."

They should also have had enough conversations leading up to the game so that, once kickoff arrives, there's a consensus on how to best attack the opponent.

"You get some different looks maybe than you're anticipating or you get some injuries … or that retirement at halftime, you have to change things up a little bit, I don't know," Dungy said. "But usually you hope that, as a head coach and a play-caller, you're all on the same page, you're all thinking the same things anyway. I never thought it made much difference who called the defenses or who called the plays because a lot of that you kind of worked on and scripted during the week and the head coach is listening."

He doesn't think McDermott and Frazier, who have a long professional history, will have any problems between them as a result of what happened Sunday.

"I think the relationship with those guys will be fine, because of who they are and how long they've known each other," Dungy said. "It's game 18 or game 19 in their (time together with the Bills)."

Of Davis' retirement, Dungy said, "It's not something I've ever heard of before, but I remember working for Coach (Chuck) Noll (of the Pittsburgh Steelers) for a long time. He always said, ‘If you're heart's not in it, you shouldn't play. You're going to do damage to yourself and your team.'

"You would think most guys get that sense after a game, but to me, if he got that sense in the middle of a game and it hit him and he felt that that was definitely in his heart what to do, I applaud him for making that decision and he probably did the right thing."


The Bills Tuesday signed cornerback Ryan Lewis to the 53-man roster from their practice squad.

They also signed cornerback Michael Hunter and wide receiver Hunter Sharp to the practice squad.


The Bills Tuesday worked out former Jaguars defensive tackle Michael Bennett, former 49ers defensive tackle Quinton Dial, wide receiver Branden Shippen, offensive guard Austin Pasztor, and quarterback Tyler Ferguson, according to Adam Caplan of SiriusXM NFL Radio.


The Dallas Cowboys announced Tuesday they've signed defensive tackle Adolphus Washington, a 2016 third-round pick of the Bills, to their practice squad. The Bills released Washington after their season-opening loss at Baltimore.

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