Sean McDermott: Honesty, vulnerability important as a head coach

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When the Bills traded wide receiver Sammy Watkins and cornerback Ronald Darby last summer, Sean McDermott had what he describes as a challenging moment in his first year as the team’s head coach.

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.

12 responses to “Sean McDermott: Honesty, vulnerability important as a head coach

  1. Benching Taylor was, and still is the right decision. Peterman simply ran into a buzz saw that Taylor himself would have experienced.
    As elusive and fast as Taylor is, his throwing instincts are very slow to develop, and have left the Bills passing game ultra simple and conservative… Not a talent who can win it all.

  2. Honesty. Like how he honestly tried his hardest to pull a Buffalo Bills, on the Buffalo Bills’s season with that Peterman debacle. No, there is no sure fire indicator they would of won but definately doubt Tyrod would have them out of the game in the first ten minutes. Lets keep it 100, the Bills caught a break because of the Ravens and almost had another playoff-less season because of that move.

  3. McDermott is very fortunate he had a QB like Taylor, who took the benching like a pro, without voicing anything that would have torn the team apart. He gets the credit, not the coach. The move McDermott made, is like suicide to a coach, if it fails – Especially a new coach. But fail it did and in the most dramatic way possible.

    The unprecedented move on a team in the playoff hunt, could have gotten coach fired & stigmatized his entire career. It’s really incredible that taylor has gotten so little respect for keeping the team together after the benching and for the playoff berth.

    That said, i like McDermott and I think he learned from an almost coach-killing experience. It will make him a better coach. A near death experience (coaching wise) will do that.

  4. This article really shows that Sean is the anti-Rex. One is as honest as an Angel. The other couldn’t see the truth to tell the truth. Sean is self contained. Rex is a blowhard.

  5. always thought mcdermott was a good coach despite his ill-fated tenure as coordinator in philly also thought he did a good job in carolina. i think taking a team that was being accused of tanking earlier in the season to the playoffs is pretty good, no matter how it happened.

  6. What people don’t understand is that benching CarPart Taylor, who was playing terrible, for Peterman who was practicing very well was a calculated, smart and bold decision. On the field it failed miserably. However, it galvanized the team and most important, it got CarPart playing better. Also, Peterman was not responsible for 3 of those 5 interceptions. He came in in relief twice and showed he does have mental toughness by playing good in those relief appearances. I trust the Process. It is obviously working.

  7. Benching Tyrod was not really a bad decision considering that he’s not too good in the passing game. Unfortunately the Chargers were on fire that day and would have beaten the Bills even if Joe Montana were the QB. The O-line was a total row of turnstiles letting the San Diego defensive line blast through them effectively shutting down the offense. Could the timing have been better with the Taylor benching? Absolutely, but the logic behind it was sound. As much as Taylor is likeable and a dynamic player he will never be a true QB and fails to see wide open/about to be open receivers consistently.

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