No boasts as coach McDer­mott takes over

La Salle grad­u­ate gets his big shot

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By John Wawrow

OR­CHARD PARK, N.Y. >> Buf­falo Bills new coach Sean McDer­mott ush­ered in the post-Rex Ryan era by mak­ing no bold prom­ises in his vi­sion to re­store rel­e­vance to a fran­chise in the midst of a 17-year play­off drought.

McDer­mott was short and to the point dur­ing his in­au­gu­ral news con­fer­ence on Fri­day. The 42-year-old first-time head coach said he’s fa­mil­iar with the chal­lenges of re­build­ing de­fenses, and is lean­ing on his 18 years of NFL ex­pe­ri­ence, which in­clude two Su­per Bowl losses as an as­sis­tant.

The first step is rein­vig­o­rat­ing a win­ning cul­ture on a team that has en­joyed just two win­ning sea­sons since last reach­ing the play­offs in 1999.

“I un­der­stand the ex­pec­ta­tions that come with a job of this mag­ni­tude,” McDer­mott said. “I’m hun­gry. I’m not go­ing to shy away from this chal­lenge.”

The only prom­ise the for­mer Carolina Pan­thers de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor made was is a vow to field a com­pet­i­tive team.

That’s a far de­par­ture from two years ago, when Ryan boasted of his in­ten­tion to build the Bills into bul­lies.

McDer­mott was hired on Wed­nes­day , a lit­tle over two weeks af­ter Ryan was dis­missed for fall­ing short in de­liv­er­ing on his vows. That was par­tic­u­larly the case when it came to Ryan’s prized de­fense, which ranked 19th in yards al­lowed in each of the past two years.

McDer­mott spent the past six sea­sons over­see­ing the Pan­thers de­fense that en­joyed top 10 fin­ishes in four of the past five years. That in­cluded 2015, when Carolina went 15-1 and lost the Su­per Bowl to Den­ver.

He pre­vi­ously spent 12 sea­sons in Philadel­phia, and was an as­sis­tant on the Ea­gles team that lost the 2005 Su­per Bowl to New Eng­land.

“I’ve gone to two Su­per Bowls. I know what that looks like and smells like and tastes like,” he said. “I feel ex­tremely con­fi­dent with my abil­ity to lead this fran­chise mov­ing for­ward.”

McDer­mott be­comes the 20th coach in fran­chise his­tory and 10th since Wade Phillips last led the Bills to the play­offs dur­ing the 1999 sea­son. The list in­cludes in­terim coaches such as An­thony Lynn, the of­fen­sive

co­or­di­na­tor who took over af­ter Ryan was fired be­fore Buf­falo’s sea­son fi­nale.

McDer­mott said it was pre­ma­ture to dis­cuss his de­fen­sive phi­los­o­phy or Buf­falo’s ros­ter, which fea­tures 24 play­ers el­i­gi­ble to be­come free agents in March. And he specif­i­cally pro­vided lit­tle in­sight re­gard­ing the sta­tus of quar­ter­back Ty­rod Tay­lor, whose fu­ture is also un­cer­tain .

“Let’s not get ahead of our­selves,” McDer­mott said, not­ing he had a brief ini­tial meet­ing with the sec­ondyear starter about 10 min­utes be­fore the news con­fer­ence. “There’ll be a time for that.” Not much time, ac­tu­ally. The Bills have un­til mid-March to de­ter­mine whether to pay the sec­ondyear starter $30 mil­lion or opt out of the five-year con­tract ex­ten­sion Tay­lor signed in Au­gust.

McDer­mott is al­ready be­gin­ning to as­sem­ble his staff and lean­ing on his for­mer Ea­gles’ con­nec­tions.

The Bills reached deals to hire for­mer Min­nesota Vik­ings head coach Les­lie Fra­zier (de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor), Juan Castillo (of­fen­sive line/run game co­or­di­na­tor) and Bob Babich (lineback­ers coach). McDer­mott worked with Fra­zier and Castillo in Philadel­phia.

McDer­mott re­tained spe­cial teams co­or­di­na­tor Danny Cross­man.

The fo­cus is on who McDer­mott will hire to over­see Buf­falo’s of­fense, which has led the NFL in rush­ing in each of the past two sea­sons. Lynn was a can­di­date for Buf­falo’s job, but has also in­ter­viewed for other open­ings in­clud­ing the Los Angeles Charg­ers.

The clos­est McDer­mott came to echo­ing Ryan was by ac­ci­dent.

Ryan opened his news

con­fer­ence by tap­ping the mi­cro­phone and say­ing: “Is this thing on, be­cause it’s get­ting ready to be on.”

For McDer­mott, his mi­cro­phone wasn’t turned on when at­tempt­ing to an­swer his ques­tion, and po­litely asked: “Is this on?”

The com­par­isons be­tween Ryan and McDer­mott weren’t lost on Bills owner Terry Peg­ula in dis­cussing what im­pressed him about McDer­mott.

Peg­ula specif­i­cally men­tioned how he was seek­ing a coach “who could man­age and en­hance the cul­ture and de­meanor of our team on the field.”

In two years un­der Ryan, the Bills were crit­i­cized for lack­ing dis­ci­pline in at­tract­ing per­sonal foul penal­ties and even get­ting in­volved a pre-game on-field shov­ing match with Pa­tri­ots play­ers and coaches be­fore Buf­falo’s 16-0 win at New Eng­land on Oct. 2.

“He is a smart, thor­ough, de­ci­sive, faith-based win­ner,” Peg­ula said.

McDer­mott said he an­swers di­rectly to Terry and his wife Kim Peg­ula, while not­ing gen­eral man­ager Doug Wha­ley has con­trol over the team’s 53-player ros­ter. Wha­ley headed the coach­ing search, though ques­tioned were raised about his au­thor­ity af­ter he had dif­fi­culty ex­plain­ing his ex­act role dur­ing a 40-minute end-of-sea­son news con­fer­ence last week.

McDer­mott said he is fine with the Bills man­age­ment struc­ture.

“I wouldn’t take this job if I wasn’t com­fort­able with the sit­u­a­tion,” he said.

Wha­ley said he is tak­ing a team-first ap­proach with McDer­mott.

“We’re work­ing to­gether to get this fran­chise to where we know it should be,” Wha­ley said.

JEF­FREY T. BARNES — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Buf­falo Bills NFL foot­ball team new head coach Sean McDer­mott ad­dresses the me­dia dur­ing a press con­fer­ence, Fri­day in Or­chard Park, N.Y.

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