The Buffalo Bills may have a new head coach soon.
Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott met with the Bills owner Terry Pegula for a second interview today in Boca Raton, Florida, and if all went well, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweeted that things could get wrapped up quickly.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 11, 2017
Update: The Bills did in fact hire McDermott. McDermott is the 20th head coach in franchise history. He is expected to bring Panthers linebackers coach Al Holcolm to Buffalo with him as defensive coordinator, per Connor Orr of NFL Network.
Buffalo is reportedly very intrigued with having a defensive-minded head coach even after the debacle that was the Rex Ryan experiment. The Bills struggled mightily on the defensive side in 2016, surrendering 30 or more points in each of their last three games and seven times overall. The Bills defense finished in the lower middle third of the league in scoring defense (t-16th) and total yards (19th).
Run defense was particularly a sore spot as the Bills finished 29th against the run. The Bills surrendered 133.1 yards on the ground a game. They permitted a running back to surpass the 200-yard mark three times this year — Miami Dolphins’ Jay Ajayi (twice) and Pittsburgh Steelers’ Le’Veon Brown (once).
If McDermott is indeed selected for the job, it will be his first head coaching job. The 42-year-old has been a defensive coordinator for eight years and has been with the Panthers since 2011. He started his NFL coaching career in 1999 with the Philadelphia Eagles.
McDermott has helped Carolina to three playoff appearances in his six years, including reaching Super Bowl 50 where the Panthers fell to the Denver Broncos. Carolina finished sixth in the league in scoring defense and sixth in yards allowed in 2015. The Panthers also ranked first in the NFL in interceptions and takeaways that year. As a result, McDermott was named Pro Football Focus Defensive Coordinator of the Year second runner-up in 2015.
This year, Carolina gave up the seventh-most points (25.1 per game). The Panthers defense, which ranked in the top 10 in the NFL from 2012 to 2015, fell to 21st in total defense (359.8) as they were seventh against the run (91.6) and 28th versus the pass (268.2). The Panthers were 10th in third down conversion percentage (38 percent), second in sacks (47) and tied for seventh in turnovers forced (27).
Vic Carucci of theT Buffalo News is reported that McDermott could get a five-year deal.
Buffalo has not been to the playoffs since 1999. In the 17-years between postseason appearances, the Bills have compiled an 112-160 record and gone through 10 coaching changes — including two this past season.
Ryan was expected to be the franchise savior when he was hired in early 2015. The Bills went 8-8 in his first season, marking just their fifth non-losing campaign during the recent stretch. Buffalo got off to a quick start this season, as has been the case recently, before fizzling down the stretch. And offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn took over before the last game of the season against the New York Jets.
Lynn was considered the front-runner for the full-time job after resurrecting the team’s running game. However, Lynn had some trepidations and is currently exploring other options according to Carucci.
The Bills have also interviewed Arizona Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin and Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard. Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Vance Joseph and Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich also has been linked to the team.
McDermott has interviewed for head coaching jobs before. He interviewed for the Cleveland Browns vacancy in 2015. He is currently a candidate for the San Francisco 49ers and San Diego Chargers head coaching job. Eric Williams of ESPN wrote, a few days ago, that the Chargers planned on bringing McDermott in for a second interview as well.
McDermott, if he gets the job, plans on bringing in recently fired head coach Mike McCoy as his offensive coordinator. However, Robert Molner of Yahoo Sports is reporting if McCoy gets the Denver Broncos head coach job, McDermott could bring Lynn back as OC.
[Featured Image by Chuck Burton/AP Images]