What followed was lofty guarantees of ending a then 15-year playoff drought, leading the league defensively, and building a bully – promises Ryan failed to keep in nearly two seasons at the helm, paving the way for the Bills to hire the franchise’s 20th head coach, Sean McDermott.
McDermott took great pride in being named the Bills newest head coach, also calling the city of Buffalo his family’s “type of town,” and expressing a sincere excitement about assimilating into the local community. He thanked God, his family, the Bills brass, and the mentors who helped him reach this plateau such as Andy Reid and Ron Rivera. He even referred to the Bills job as “the best one on the market.”
Ironically, McDermott began the question portion of his own introductory press conference by also asking if his microphone was on. This was no joke though – he sincerely wasn’t sure if the audience could hear him – and the message that followed, was much different than Ryan’s.
“I’m not into making promises, and I think you’ll find that out about me soon enough” McDermott asserted. “The promises that I’ll make are that we’re going to be competitive and we’re gonna compete every day.
“I’m going to build this culture, along with the people in this building, to develop a daily standard of winning in the way we do things. You have to earn the right to win in this league, and I’ve learned that.”
He echoed that theme when the subject of the Bills tumultuous 17-year playoff drought came up.
“I’m hungry,” he stated. “I’m not going to shy away from this challenge. We have to start inside, like I mentioned at the outset, and win inside of the building and it’s got to extend to our community in doing things the right way.”
There was no boisterousness and very little gusto. As advertised, McDermott presented himself as the “anti-Rex.” And that seems to be exactly what Bills owners Kim and Terry Pegula were going for.
Despite initial reports indicating that former interim head coach Anthony Lynn – who accepted the Chargers head coaching job – was the “front-runner” to fill the Bills vacancy, Terry Pegula revealed that they were “blown away” by McDermott’s organization and that he was the team’s top candidate from day one.
Another report that surfaced throughout the search claimed that the Bills were potentially willing to negotiate with candidates over who would control the 53-man roster. According to McDermott, that responsibility, however, will remain with general manager Doug Whaley, as is written in his contract.
“Doug [Whaley] has control of the 53,” the William and Mary graduate explained. “We talked and going through the process with the Pegulas, I’m very comfortable with this situation.”
Whaley emphasized that the two will work in collaboration on assembling the best possible roster, but there remains a strong belief that McDermott will hold “significant” power in making decisions regarding the team’s make-up. That process begins with evaluating the players currently on the roster, most notably Tyrod Taylor, who’s future in Buffalo remains in jeopardy with the team facing a tough decision of whether or not to pick up the option in his contract worth more than $30 million in guarantees.
McDermott admitted that he met Taylor literally minutes before the press conference, but would not elaborate on how he views the Virginia Tech product, citing an upcoming evaluation process.
“Just visited with Tyrod for five minutes upstairs, we talked on the phone yesterday and I appreciate his willingness to reach out,” the Bills new head coach said. “I’ve watched him in crossover tape so I know the skillset, I know what he brings to the table but again, at this time it is premature to expand any further on that. I’m going to go through and be diligent with this evaluation of the roster along with Doug and doing this the right way.”
Defensively there are some tough decisions that await as well, because while several current Bills were hand picked to fit Ryan’s 3-4 scheme, McDermott has made his living overseeing a 4-3 defensive scheme.
“I’m not going to say we’re going to be– I don’t want to get into that right now,” he remarked. “I’m going to put the players in position to be successful. That’s what a coach does, a coach adjusts to what he has and I just believe in that.”
Perhaps that was his attempt at treading lightly on his first day in Buffalo, rather than coming in and demanding change. Regardless, McDermott’s sermons of earning the right to win, building a winning culture and adjusting your scheme to your players will resonate long after the presser concluded. As will the fact that, unlike his boastful predecessor, he didn’t make a single empty promise.
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