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The Buffalo Bills officially have a new head coach.
The team officially announced that they have come to terms with Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott as the new head coach of the franchise. It's rumored to be a five-year deal.
McDermott, 42, has spent the last six seasons as the man in charge of the Panthers defense -- a unit that has finished as a top 10 defense in the league in four out of his six years there. In 2015, the Panthers had a remarkable season in which they ranked sixth in both points allowed and yards allowed, along with a league-high 39 turnovers forced.
The Panthers took a step back this past season, ranking 21st in yards allowed and 26th in points allowed, though they still managed to force 27 turnovers. Before heading to the Panthers, McDermott spent 12 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles working his way up the coaching ladder, before getting promoted to defensive coordinator for the 2009 and 2010 seasons.
McDermott also interviewed to be a head coach following the end of the 2015 regular season as well. The Bills also interviewed interim head coach Anthony Lynn, Arizona offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin, and Seattle defensive coordinator Kris Richard.
Joe B's Take
While the Panthers defensive performance in the 2016, from a statistical perspective anyway, is uninspiring to look at for fans, the success of Carolina's defense over the duration of McDermott's tenure is the selling point. Having a top 10 defense is a tough accomplishment, but to do it four out of six seasons in the salary cap era shows off a good defensive coach.
A big question that must be asked is this: How does McDermott's scheme fit with what the Bills have on the defensive side of the ball?
The answer: Quite well. The Bills have been a team full of defensive players better suited for a 4-3 defense that has been masquerading as a 3-4 for the past two seasons. The main difference is that McDermott's scheme relies heavily on zone coverages from their cornerbacks -- which is a distinct difference from Rex Ryan's defensive scheme.
That, however, shouldn't be a huge problem for the secondary that the Bills have lined up for 2017, only because they're likely going to have an incredible amount of turnover at both cornerback and safety. Stephon Gilmore is due to be an unrestricted free agent, Aaron Williams is mulling retirement, and we may have seen the last of the aging Corey Graham as well -- which makes up three of the four opening-day starters in 2016.
The biggest problem is potentially finding a middle linebacker that's as quick and instinctive as Luke Kuechly was for McDermott in Carolina. While Preston Brown would be better suited in a 4-3 defense, he's not nearly as quick as Kuechly and could struggle in the zone-based coverages McDermott employs.
That's only on the defensive side of the ball, which would make McDermott's hiring of an offensive coordinator quite important. All in all, despite a setback of a 2016 season, McDermott is a solid head coaching candidate that would fit the Bills' personnel.
The bigger question would be how McDermott handles the entire operation, but from a defensive perspective, he can potentially cure what ailed the Bills during the 2015 and 2016 seasons with some talent on that side of the ball.