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A big NFL deal: Bills extend coach McDermott

Head coach Sean McDermott signed a multi-year contract extension with the Buffalo Bills yesterday.
Head coach Sean McDermott signed a multi-year contract extension with the Buffalo Bills yesterday.

Only second Buffalo head coach in 2000s to get re-upped

It takes a big story nowadays to knock coronavirus-related developments off the top of the daily NFL news pyramid, and the Buffalo Bills offering a contract extension to a head coach certainly qualifies.

Sean McDermott on Wednesday became only the second of eight Bills head coaches this century to sign a second deal. The team announced the news at midday.

“In just three short years, Sean McDermott has ended the Bills playoff drought and turned the team into a division favourite and AFC contenders,” Bills owners Terry and Kim Pegula said in a statement. “Sean’s leadership on and off the field has been nothing but genuine and transparent, qualities we appreciate as owners.

“(He) has brought great stability to our organization. We are happy to extend his contract and keep him in Western New York for many years to come.”

McDermott had two seasons remaining on his original five-year contract, and his extension is four years in length, according to NFL Network.

The re-up is wholly warranted. NFL coaches are paid to win and win right away, and McDermott has done both.

The 46-year-old has led the Bills to their first two playoff berths of the century — following his first season upon succeeding the fired Rex Ryan in 2017, and again this past season. Combined, his 2017-19 teams are 25-23 (.521) in the regular season and 0-2 in the playoffs.

McDermott is the first Buffalo coach to have a winning record after three years since Wade Phillips (1998-2000: 29-19, .604), and appears a lock to become the first Bills head coach to last four full seasons since Pro Football Hall of Famer Marv Levy (1986-97: 112-70, .615), the only NFL head coach to win four consecutive conference championships.

A defensive-side specialist, McDermott rose up the NFL coaching ranks under Andy Reid in Philadelphia from 2001-10, and Ron Rivera in Carolina from 2011-16.

McDermott could not be more different from his predecessor, Ryan, by almost every measure. He is uncommonly polite, humble and low-key in public settings, but away from the camera lights he possesses a competitive fire, football smarts, flexibility and genuineness that resonate with modern-day NFL players.

For instance, McDermott handled his disastrous first-year gaffe of benching Tyrod Taylor for over-his-head rookie Nathan Peterman by taking full ownership both publicly and inside the Bills locker room, while not only refusing to throw the shattered young QB under the bus but defending him.

That’s first-rate leadership. His veteran players clearly respected McDermott for how he handled that mid-season misstep, and kept buying in until surprisingly securing the Bills’ first post-season berth since 1999.

The Bills have not won their division since 1995, but in 2020 are projected by most NFL experts to dethrone the New England Patriots as AFC East champions. They have the defence to do it, and enough talent on offence as well; the Bills’ success in 2020 rides largely on how far rocket-armed, third-year quarterback Josh Allen has progressed as a reliably accurate, nuanced thrower.

That the Bills cited said their lofty preseason prognostications in the lead of their statement announcing McDermott’s extension might have caused some in Western New York to cringe — you don’t list being a favourite to win a division as a reason to extend a coach — but it goes to show how far the franchise has come since McDermott took over 3½ years ago.

Next, the Bills need to extend the contract of GM Brandon Beane.

He joined McDermott in relocating to Buffalo after an even longer stint with the Carolina Panthers. The two have been close friends for a decade now, and always are in lock-step publicly with every decision. Whether “McBeane” often disagree on roster moves behind the scenes or never at all, we’d never know by what either says publicly.

Such professionalism and circus avoidance was sorely needed at One Bills Drive, going back to the late 1990s.


Three NFL head coaches have now tested positive for COVID-19. Four NFL teams now won’t play in front of fans in 2020.

But all is well, with the regular season only four weeks away. So says Jerry Jones.

Even though Anthony Lynn of the Los Angeles Chargers on Tuesday night joined Philadelphia’s Doug Pederson (who returned to work Wednesday) and New Orleans’ Sean Payton (who returned to work in late March) as coronavirus-contracting head coaches, and even though Washington on Wednesday announced it has joined the Las Vegas Raiders, New York Jets and New York Giants in banning fans entirely at 2020 home games, the Dallas Cowboys owner/GM was as undaunted and as positive as ever.

“The Dallas Cowboys plan on playing all of our football games and we plan on playing in front of our fans,” Jones said at the club’s official introductory training-camp news conference. “We all know what’s going on in this country today. A 50/50 debate about going to school, a 50/50 debate or so about wearing masks.

“It’s all about a challenge. I think it’s important for our country. The NFL can be an inspirational part of how we address COVID, not only this year how we go into 2021.”

As every sports league from Little League on up has learned, that’s a helluva lot easier said than done.

The Cowboys’ massive domed home, AT&T Stadium, can hold more than 105,000 fans including standing room, across 3 million square feet. Side doors could help potential COVID-19 spread with “naturally built” air flow, Jones said. “A serious, serious air current.”


“We’ll adhere to all protocols,” Jones vowed. “We’ll adapt them to the uniqueness of our stadium. I think we’re going to be able to have a great experience. I’m confident we will have a very educated situation with our fans.

“We all like to dream in this organization.”

OK, but how many fans per game would the Cowboys entertain? Most of the other 27 teams still hoping and planning to play in front of fans expect at best to accommodate only a small percentage of their usual capacities.


Jones said he empathizes equally with socially active players and their motivations to want to kneel during the anthem, as well as with fans greatly offended by those actions. He added that “grace” should be everybody’s guiding motivation, as it is his as he attempts to find some compromise solution for his team on this issue come the regular season.

For his part, Cowboys QB Dak Prescott later said he “100%” would back any teammate who might choose to kneel as the pre-game anthem plays.


The NFL and NFLPA have agreed to continue daily testing of players and personnel inside team bubbles through Sept. 5 … Cincinnati WR John Ross left camp after his young son contract the coronavirus, NFL Network said … On new Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy, Prescott said “he’s a very, very genuine guy. And I think that’s the first thing that hit off with the team … Nothing but excitement from my end” … The Big-12 college conference reaffirmed its intention to proceed with a season, and even released its schedule Wednesday, after the Big Ten and Pac-12 pulled their plugs Tuesday.


Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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