ORCHARD PARK, NY – Having spent six years as the Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator before being named the Buffalo Bills head coach this past January, Sean McDermott is certainly familiar with what makes his former team tick. That could come in handy as the Bills prepare to take on the Panthers this weekend.
“I’m aware of their strengths and weaknesses if you will, I acknowledge that,” McDermott said. “The players will be on the field making the plays [though]. We’ve gotta have a great week. We’ve got a lot of work to do. Making the trip down there will be a big challenge for us.”
That challenge begins with shutting down former MVP, quarterback Cam Newton. Equipped with a cannon for an arm, Newton also possess a massive threat as a runner and his build – he stands at 6-foot-5, 245 pounds – makes him an absolute nightmare to tackle. Additionally, the familiarity factor goes both ways. McDermott admitted that Newton went against his defense on a daily basis during his six years in Carolina.
“Everday,” McDermott stated. “Everyday through the natural evolution of what happens in the OTAs, what happens in spring and training camp, and obviously you transition, just like we do, to scout team work during the regular season. But he’s familiar with what we do, we’ve got some familiarity with what they do. [Offensive coordinator] Mike Shula does an incredible job moving pieces around; very dynamic offense.”
Dynamic as they may be, Newton and the offense had a lackluster performance in Week 1. Against a rebuilding 49ers team, Carolina scored just 23 points and managed 237 yards of total offense. Newtown was equally underwhelming, completing just 14 of his 25 pass attempts for 171 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. The performance left Newton’s own head coach, Ron Rivera calling his starting QB “rusty,” which also raised questions about how the 28-year-old feels after having offseason surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder. McDermott disagreed with Rivera’s remarks saying on tape Newton looked like his typical MVP-caliber self.
“I thought he did [look like himself],” McDermott said. “I mean they put up 23 points and anytime you can do that in the NFL that’s saying something. I thought they were productive offensively, they moved the ball and spread it around, I thought he did a good job.”
The Bills will get an up close and personal look at Newton on Sunday and the mutual familiarity between the two teams should make for quite the chess match out on the field.
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