Bills Lose Top Assistant in Potentially Telling Move on Sean McDermott’s Future

Sean McDermott

Getty Bills head coach Sean McDermott at Highmark Stadium on November 19, 2023.

The Buffalo Bills are losing their top assistant coach in a move that one insider believes is a harbinger for Sean McDermott’s future in Buffalo.

The NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported on January 27 that Bills defensive line coach and assistant head coach Eric Washington had taken a job as the defensive coordinator with the Chicago Bears.

While the move represents a promotion for Washington, one Bills reporter believes it is also a sign that McDermott has no plans to relinquish the role as defensive coordinator in Buffalo that he’s served since last offseason.

Big Move for Eric Washington

Washington will be moving to Chicago to take the coordinator position left vacant when Alan Williams resigned in September, citing personal reasons. As Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith noted, Washington already has some experience as defensive coordinator during his time with the Carolina Panthers and was an assistant with the Bears from 2008 to 2010.

The move could also have big implications for the Bills, reporter Ryan O’Halloran of the Buffalo News noted. He noted that Washington and McDermott have been close, with Washington spending 10 years as an assistant coach under McDermott in Buffalo and Carolina.

O’Halloran wrote that the move “certainly suggests McDermott isn’t going to hire a [defensive coordinator” in Buffalo. McDermott took over duties after the departure of Leslie Frazier last offseason.

“Certainly suggests if McDermott were to give up play-calling, Washington wasn’t getting it,” O’Halloran wrote on X, adding that the move, “certainly suggests this is a coach seeking fresh start.”

Another Bills Assistant Interviewing for New Jobs

The Bills have another defensive assistant getting some attention from other teams. Linebackers coach Bobby Babich has gotten interview requests from the Green Bay Packers and New York Giants for their defensive coordinator openings, Pro Football Talk noted.

Babich has gotten some buzz for his work in shaping Buffalo’s defense, first as safeties coach and then moving into his current role as linebackers coach in 2022. Babich moved over to the new role following the retirement of his father, previous Bills linebackers coach Bob Babich.

Bobby Babich had earned some praise from defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier for the work he had done shaping the team’s safety corps and working together with other defensive assistants.

“That’s part of being together for the last five years – they feed off each other,” Frazier told the Buffalo News in November 2021. “They really give quarterbacks a hard time sometimes with their looks. There are times Bobby Babich and John Butler, our secondary coaches, we give them the liberty to have input on the game plan, about what type of looks we want to give the quarterback, or what’s the best strategy in this particular defense.”

Reporter Thad Brown of WROC-TV noted that Washington’s move to Chicago could also signal that the Bills have bigger plans for Babich within the organization.

“Eric Washington goes to Chicago and gets the defensive coordinator title, but reportedly will not call plays,” Brown wrote on X. “Feels more lateral move than upward. Perhaps an indication #Bills are making room to keep Bobby Babich.”

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