The Buffalo Bills have hired their next head coach, luring now former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott away from Charlotte to take his first head coaching gig in the NFL.
Here’s what you need to know about McDermott, his career and family, and his qualifications as an NFL head coach.
1. McDermott Was the Only Defensive Coordinator in the NFL to Lead a Top-10 Defense in Four of the Past Five Seasons
The 2016-17 season has been an anomaly statistically for the 42-year-old McDermott’s Carolina Panther defenses, which at times has made him joke about ending it all. Since he was hired by Carolina after the 2010-11 season, the Panther defense has ranked in the top 10 of the NFL in total yards allowed in four of those six seasons. McDermott had worked in a number of defensive coaching positions for the Philadelphia Eagles learning under the legendary defensive coordinator Jim Johnson for 12 seasons, the last two of which McDermott was the defensive coordinator in Philadelphia.
The high-water mark in McDermott’s Carolina tenure statistically has been the 2013-14 season, when Carolina’s total yards allowed for the season was second to the Seattle Seahawks by a mere 42 yards, or a difference of less than three yards per game. The Seahawks have ranked among the top 10 of the NFL in yards allowed in each of the past five seasons, but haven’t had the same defensive coordinator during all of those seasons, making McDermott’s success a mark of differentiation among his peers that led to his landing several head coaching job interviews and now the Buffalo job.
2. McDermott Has Been Connected to Six Head Coaching Jobs During the Past Two Years
McDermott’s first interview for a NFL head coaching vacancy was in 2013 with the Washington Redskins. Since then, he’s become quite accustomed to doing interviews, as Monday’s interview with the 49ers will be the sixth time in the past two calendar years that he has been the interviewee in a similar scenario.
Two years ago, Ben Shpigel of the New York Times reported that McDermott was scheduled to interview for the New York Jets’ head coaching vacancy, but the interview was cancelled when the Jets hired current head coach Todd Bowles.
Although McDermott expressed interest in the Philadelphia vacancy after the Eagles fired Chip Kelly, the interest wasn’t mutual according to ESPN’s Phil Sheridan. That off-season, McDermott interviewed with the Cleveland Browns for their head coaching vacancy.
More teams have been lining up early in 2017. The Buffalo Bills were the first to do, as reported by Joe Buscaglia of WKBW. The second franchise, the San Diego Chargers, then quickly surfaced.
Finally, the San Francisco 49ers were the last to interview McDermott for their head coaching vacancy. Now that McDermott has agreed to terms with Buffalo, he is starting to catch up professionally with his older brother.
3. McDermott’s Older Brother is a High-Ranking Sports Executive
Sean is the son of a high school football coach, but that’s not the sum total of his family’s involvement in athletics.
Sean’s older brother by two years, Tim McDermott, is currently the Chief Business Officer of the Philadelphia Union Major League Soccer franchise. He has held that position for nearly a year, but had several other executive jobs for professional sports franchises prior.
Tim started his career with the Philadelphia 76ers, working in the marketing department, then joined Sean with the Philadelphia Eagles as the Eagles’ chiefs marketing officer. In 2006, Tim took the same position with the Washington Capitals and remained in that role for three years.
4. McDermott Was a Walk-On for His College Football Team
After graduating from North Penn High School in 1993, McDermott enrolled at William and Mary College in Williamsburg, Virginia the following fall. He was not recruited to play football for the Tribe, and had to walk on. He passed the tryouts, but took a redshirt during his academic freshman year.
As a redshirt freshman the following season, McDermott saw the field in 11 games as a teammate of current Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. As his skills – and the team around him – improved, he benefitted and by his junior year, he was starting in the Tribe secondary alongside former NFL All Pro safety Darren Sharper. In his senior season, McDermott was named a team captain and All-Conference. After graduation, he spent one season with the college as a graduate assistant.
5. McDermott was a Prolific High School Wrestler
After his sophomore year of high school, McDermott transferred to North Penn for his junior year. The result of that transfer, and McDermott’s hard work, was going undefeated throughout the rest of his high school career. That led to two national prep titles at 171 pounds and several scholarship offers from prominent Division I college wrestling programs.