Bills Make Key Addition to Sean McDermott’s Staff, Hire Ex-Jets Coach

Sean McDermott

Getty Head coach Sean McDermott of the Buffalo Bills looks on against the Miami Dolphins during the AFC Wild Card playoff game at Highmark Stadium on January 15, 2023.

The Buffalo Bills are making a change in the secondary, bringing in a new coach who has experience leading some top defensive backs including Jalen Ramsey and Darrelle Revis.

The team announced on February 2 that they hired Joe Danna to serve as their new safeties coach. Danna spent last season with the Houston Texans and has 15 years of experience in the league, including spending some time with an AFC East rival.

Joe Danna’s Deep Experience

As the team noted, Danna helped lead a Texans defense that ranked 10th against the pass last season, giving up just 209.3 yards per game. Houston also tied the New York Jets for the fewest touchdowns allowed through the air, giving up just 15 touchdown passes.

The team noted that Danna has plenty of experience before that.

“Prior to his one-year stint in Houston, Danna was a part of the Jacksonville Jaguars coaching staff for four seasons, two years as the safeties coach (2019-20) and two years as the assistant secondary coach (2017-18),” the team noted. “He also spent time as the DB coach for the New York Jets (2015-16) and the Atlanta Falcons (2012-14).”

Danna’s hiring comes after the Bills made a surprise move, firing previous safeties coach Jim Salgado despite a strong season from the unit. The Bills were able to withstand a season-ending injury to All-Pro safety Micah Hyde and a series of injuries to fellow All-Pro Jordan Poyer. In their place, the Bills got strong performances out of second-year player Damar Hamlin who took on an increased role before collapsing in the Week 17 game against the Cincinnati Bengals and missing the rest of the season.

As John Wawrow of The Associated Press noted, Salgado had been a longtime member of McDermott’s staff, joining in his first season in 2017 as a defensive assistant and then being promoted to coach nickel cornerbacks in 2020.

New Look for Bills Secondary Next Season

Danna will inherit a unit expected to see some significant changes in the coming season. Poyer is set to become a free agent and did not appear to make progress toward a contract extension despite publicly advocating for one. Poyer issued a goodbye of sorts to fans and has hinted about moving on to a new team next season.

McDermott hinted that rookie cornerback Christian Benford, who started early in the season before missing time due to injury, could make the change to safety in the coming year.

“That’s been talked about way back when we first picked up Christian and we’ll just see where it goes,” McDermott said.

McDermott added that the team’s roster would likely go through some changes in the offseason, though didn’t address Poyer directly.

“It’ll be a new roster and a new start to a new roster in the next couple of days here and we have to reset things,” McDermott shared. “And you guys have heard me say before, you don’t just pick up where you’ve left off the season before. That’s why that postseason evaluation is so important that we’re honest with that evaluation, and objective with who we are and what we must become in order to get there.”

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