William & Mary grad and former Panthers Defensive Coordinator Sean McDermott has been hired as the new HEAD COACH of the Buffalo Bills!!! Since we here at the blog are hardcore Bills fans (God help our souls), we could not be happier with the move.
McDermott, a William & Mary ’98 graduate, has operated as the Defensive Coordinator of the Panthers for the past six seasons. Throughout these years, McDermott has experienced immense success. His defensive unit has consistently been ranked in the NFL’s top 10 and continues to prove its worth time and again in this years’ NFL playoffs.
William & Mary Career (1994-1998)
McDermott attended La Salle College High School in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania. In high school, he starred as a defensive back, and was named all-league in 1992. McDermott was also a wrestler, and gained national honors for wrestling in both 1992 and 1993.
In the Fall of 1993, McDermott began his athletic and academic career at William & Mary. He came to the team as a walk on, and redshirted his first season. It wasn’t long before McDermott proved his worth to Coach Laycock and the staff, as he saw the field in 11 games as a free safety during his redshirt freshman season.
By his junior year, McDermott found himself quickly rising through the ranks and starting alongside another Tribe great, strong safety Darren Sharper. The two would create an impenetrable back wall for W&M at the safety position that year.
McDermott finished fourth on the team in tackles his junior year, with 114 total tackles and 64 solo tackles. That season, the Tribe went on to win 10 games and a Yankee Conference Championship. The following year, with McDermott now in his senior season, would be named a William & Mary team captain–and finished third on the team in total tackles.
In his senior year, McDermott garnered All-Atlantic 10 and All-Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) honors. Just as impressive was the fact that he was also named to the Atlantic 10’s All-Academic squad during his senior year.
Early Coaching Career (1998-2010)
1998: McDermott began his career as a Graduate Assistant on William & Mary’s coaching staff immediately after graduation. He spent just one season under the tutelage of Jimmye Laycock’s staff, but gained valuable experience in the process.
1999-2010: McDermott would quickly transfer over to the NFL, catching on as a Scouting Administrative Coordinator with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999. But less than two years later, he found himself as the Assistant to the Head Coach (Andy Reid), and then as a Defensive Assistant for the Eagles.
Progressing further up the ladder, McDermott would eventually become the Eagles’ Defensive Backs Coach in 2003, replacing Steve Spagnuolo. In that season, McDermott saw both of his starting safeties, Brian Dawkins and Michael Lewis, earn Pro Bowl honors.
In 2009, McDermott took over as Defensive Coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles after the former coordinator, Jim Johnson, lost his battle with cancer. That season would prove to be a tough one for McDermott, who was a young 36 at the time.
The Eagles sustained key injuries across the board, allowed a franchise-high 31 touchdown passes, and had the worst red-zone defense in the NFL that year. Head Coach Andy Reid would release McDermott following the season’s end. However, the two keep in continuous contact to this day; Andy Reid (now Head Coach of the Kansas City Chiefs) has become one of McDermott’s biggest proponents in the NFL world.
In all, McDermott totaled 12 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles– the last two as Defensive Coordinator. Throughout his time, he contributed to six division titles, five NFC Championship game appearances, and a trip to Super Bowl XXXIX.
Stint with the Carolina Panthers (2011-2016)
2011: Following his leave of Philadelphia, McDermott received several coaching offers. In a career-altering moment, McDermott was hired as the Defensive Coordinator of the Carolina Panthers in January of 2011. McDermott made this move in order to reunite with Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, as the two had coached together for five years back with the Eagles.
McDermott would have his work cut out for him, as the Panthers’ defensive unit had to overcome youth and injuries during his first year in 2011. The unit finished near the very bottom of the league in terms of Total Defense, finishing at 28th overall.
2012: The following year, McDermott completely flipped the defense around. The Panthers finished the 2012 season ranked 10 in Total Defense–a far cry from 28 a season ago. The 18-move jump was directly attributed to McDermott and his coaching staff. That season, Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly earned NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors after leading the league in tackles with 205.
2013: The 2013 season has been McDermott’s best to date, as the Panthers finished with a 12-4 record, an AFC South Title, and a playoff berth. McDermott’s defensive unit ranked 2nd in Total Defense, led the entire NFL in sacks, and finished sixth in passing defense and third in red zone defense. Furthermore, the Panthers defense allowed just 15.1 points per game, garnered a whopping 30 takeaways, and scored four defensive touchdowns.
Linebacker Luke Kuechly would again earn honors, this time as the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Following the 2013 season, a very successful McDermott interviewed with NFL teams, such as the Washington Redskins, for various head coaching vacancies. However, he would remain with the Panthers for the 2014 season.
2014: In the 2014 season, the Panthers finished with a 7-8-1 record. Despite holding a losing record, the team surprisingly clinched a postseason berth for the second year in a row. In a down year for the NFC South, Carolina’s lowly record proved just enough to get the job done. McDermott’s defense wasn’t as good as it was in 2013, but still finished 10th in Total Defense.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Panthers defense completely dismantled the Arizona Cardinals, holding them to a mere 78 offensive yards and forcing three total turnovers en route to a 27-16 win. The 78 total yards posted by the Cardinals is best for the fewest yards ever allowed in an NFL postseason game by an NFL defense.
2015: In 2015, the Carolina Panthers were 15-1 and had the top seed in the NFC. McDermott’s defense finished with the 6th best in the NFL, and the team made it to the Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos. In that game, the Panthers would fall to the Broncos by a score of 24-10, in what would be Hall of Famer Peyton Manning’s last game in an NFL uniform.
McDermott did not receive a job offer after the Panther’s Super Bowl season, perhaps because he had limited time to interview and by the time the Super Bowl was over, all of the NFL coaching vacancies were already filled! So much for getting awarded for your success. But then came 2016.
2016: Fast forward to 2016, and as many of you already know, the Panthers had a terrible season, finishing 6-10 after making the Super Bowl the year before. The Panthers couldn’t put it together on either side of the ball, and would finish ranked 21st in Total Defense, regressing from years’ past. However, this has actually turned out to be a boon for both McDermott and the Bills, as it (finally) made him available to interview for Head Coaching positions.
Sean McDermott Hired by the Buffalo Bills on January 11th, 2017
We absolutely love the pickup by the Bills. McDermott becomes the second William and Mary grad currently in the NFL, along with Mike Tomlin. McDermott is known for his defensive mind and will seek to take a talented Bills defense and make them elite. Taken from the Bills site:
“McDermott’s playing career was self-made at the college level. He went from a walk at William & Mary to team captain by his senior season. For two of those seasons Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin was a teammate of McDermott’s with the Tribe.Tomlin was a star receiver while McDermott, by the close of his college playing career, was an All-ECAC safety.
“He wasn’t a fast wide receiver, but he was a long strider,” McDermott told CBSSports.com. “He has that length and was willing to go over the middle to make the great catches, but what I remember the most about Mike was that he was a leader.”
It was at William & Mary where McDermott knew he wanted to build a career in coaching.
“I knew I wanted to coach at an early age,” McDermott told CBSSports.com. “I just love being around the game. That’s kind of how I was as a player, and I ended up coaching the spring of my fifth year when [William & Mary] coach [Jimmy] Laycock approached me and asked if I wanted to give it a try. And I’m grateful for it — that was my start.”
We could not be more excited to have another William and Mary grad as a coach in the NFL, and we cannot wait to see what McDermott does in Buffalo! LET’S GO TRIBE!!!