McDermott had to explain the team’s reasoning for the trades to the remaining players in “necessary conversations” that backed up an approach that remained a central theme to his coaching philosophy. McDermott said he is “always going to be honest with my players” and that included the Week 11 decision to bench quarterback Tyrod Taylor in favor of Nathan Peterman.
The move blew up on the field when Peterman threw five first-half interceptions in a 54-24 loss, but it didn’t blow up in the locker room. One Bills player told Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com that McDermott explained the decision when he made it and “owned it” after the game, which helped them move on to a 16-10 win over the Chiefs to kick off the 4-2 close to the year that got them into the playoffs.
“I just believe in being honest with my team, whether I’m right or wrong,” McDermott said. “We all make mistakes. From a leadership standpoint, if I can try and communicate the best I can in sharing information I have with my team, then we’ll able to move forward. There’s also part of it, being vulnerable with my players, and being open, and being able to say, ‘Listen, if I made the wrong decision, I’ll admit it, and we’ll move on.’ That’s an important part of our growth. No one’s perfect. And I think it’s important that the players see that honesty and vulnerability from their head coach as well.”
It’s easier to move on from bad decisions and portray them as galvanizing moments for your approach when you wind up in the playoffs, which is another reason for McDermott to be grateful to the Bengals for knocking off the Ravens in Week 17.