Two years ago, former Bills head coach Rex Ryan stepped to the microphone and delivered a laundry list of promises in his traditional carnival barker style. Friday, the day that the Bills introduced Sean McDermott as their head coach, was a little different.
The only promise McDermott made was that the Bills would play hard, though he still offered a little bit of insight into how the organization was going to look under his leadership. Here’s what we learned…
1. McDermott will be tasked with quickly changing the culture. He did not waste any time Friday: “In my diligent nature, I’ve taken note upon note and learned every step along the way,” he said. “I’ve been a part of building a defense from the ground up, brick by brick, step by step, and I’ve had help in that process as well. So within that, I’ve gone to two Super Bowls, I know what that looks like, smells like and tastes like. I feel extremely confident with my ability to lead this franchise moving forward.”
The Jets‘ hiring of Todd Bowles after Rex Ryan has a similar feel to this one. The Bills felt their orbit was out of whack after Ryan departed the building and wanted to install someone with a track record of success and sheen of professionalism. McDermott mentioned mentors like Andy Reid and the great Jim Johnson on Friday.
2. General manager Doug Whaley has control over the 53-man roster: Following the firing of Ryan, Whaley’s control over the 53-man roster was hotly debated, with the general manager admitting that the Bills would be open to any situation should they find the right coach. Whaley and McDermott will both report directly to ownership, but Whaley will have final say over the 53-man roster.
“We’ve talked in going through the process with the Pegulas,” McDermott said. “I’m very comfortable with this situation and I wouldn’t take this job if I wasn’t comfortable with this situation. Terry and Kim made sure of that and I appreciate that. We’ve had extensive conversations about the interview process and we’ve gone to great lengths that I’m comfortable with things and Doug is as well.”
3. Any decision on Tyrod Taylor may still be weeks away: Taylor is due a hefty bonus at the beginning of next season if he remains on the Bills‘ roster — something that will almost certainly not happen. Whether or not he comes back to the Bills next season is also in question. McDermott met with the 2015 Pro Bowler just a few minutes before his opening news conference, which means he’ll likely take more time to evaluate.
“When you look at the quarterbacks playing this week, it’s critical. … I actually just met Tyrod (Taylor) 10 minutes ago before we came down here and had a nice conversation,” he said. “So really at this point, whether it’s Tyrod’s situation or any other position, let’s not get ahead of ourselves right now in terms of those positions. I’m gonna go through and evaluate every position group, every player the same way I do everything else, in a methodic nature. With respect to specific players, Tyrod in this case, there’ll be a time for that. Right now, it’s about this organization and we and getting this thing looking the way it needs to look.”
4. Special teams coordinator Danny Crossman is the only confirmed hire (or retained coach) at the moment. Here’s why that’s significant: The other special teams coaches McDermott worked with over the last decade? John Harbaugh, Dave Toub and the late Bruce DeHaven — arguably three of the best special teams coordinators of the last 25 years. McDermott’s choices for offensive and defensive coordinator will inevitably be picked apart, but his confidence in Crossman is a good first step.
5. The coming hires in Buffalo will have a great deal to do with player development: Whaley reaffirmed as much on Friday. It sounds like the McDermott hire is a bet on the current players under contract who may not have grown as expected under Ryan.
“We looked at it this way,” Whaley said. “To win in this business, it’s about two things — players and winning. What coach McDermott, we know we have a guy who will maximize player development and consistently give our guys the chance to win.”