The Buffalo Billshave reportedly hired former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott as their new head coach on Wednesday.
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network and Dan Graziano of ESPN both reported the news.
The 42-year-old McDermott served as Carolina’s defensive coordinator from 2011 through 2016 after two seasons as the Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive coordinator.
McDermott became assistant to the head coach with the Eagles in 1999 under Andy Reid and served in myriad roles with the organization until his firing following the 2010 season.
Buffalo fired head coach Rex Ryan following a Week 16 defeat against the Miami Dolphins and placed the interim tag on offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn.
Jason La Canfora reported that Lynn was a “virtual lock” to become Buffalo’s next head coach, but McDermott impressed enough in his interview to secure the job.
In 2015, McDermott led a Panthers defense that ranked sixth in the NFL in both points against and yards allowed en route to representing the NFC in the Super Bowl.
The Panthers defense also ranked first in interceptions and sixth in sacks in 2015, but the 2016 campaign was a struggle after losing some key talent in free agency and due to injury.
Carolina dropped to 26th in points allowed and 21st in total yardage allowed in 2016, although it managed to finish second in the league in sacks with 47, which is something Darin Gantt of Pro Football Talk credited McDermott with:
McDermott was put in a difficult situation this past season, as superstar linebacker Luke Kuechly missed six games due to a concussion, and All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman left via free agency during the offseason.
That left McDermott with little to speak of at corner, but Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer praised him for getting the most out of his players:
Of all the people who need to get paid this offseason for the Panthers leading the league in sacks, Sean McDermott needs to lead the list.
– Darin Gantt (@daringantt) December 24, 2016
McDermott is a well-respected coach who is closing in on two decades in the NFL, and it seemed as though he was due for a head coaching chance after getting passed over so many times previously.
Coaches from the Reid coaching tree have had mixed results over the years, although Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh won a Super Bowl, and Panthers head coach Ron Rivera led Carolina to one.
McDermott’s resume is impressive, and his experience of winning games and making deep playoff runs makes him an ideal first-time head coach.
Although McDermott has never been the head man at any stop during his lengthy coaching career, he is well-prepared to take the leap and hit the ground running in his new role.
Buffalo’s defense is supremely talented, but it ranked in the middle of the pack in both points and yards allowed in 2016, as Ryan’s defensive expertise never seemed to translate to production on the field.
McDermott has some work ahead of him in terms of fixing issues on that side of the ball, and he is also tasked with ending the longest playoff drought in major American professional sports at 17 seasons.
That is a significant burden to shoulder, but based on the success that he has enjoyed at his previous stops, McDermott appears to be the right man for the job.
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