Sean McDermott escaping Jim Johnson’s shadow in Carolina


It might not have ever mattered what Sean McDermott did in Philadelphia.

He was never going to be Jim Johnson.

That’s essentially the reason the Eagles fired him from his defensive coordinator job, and now with the Panthers, McDermott told Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Daily News it might have been the best thing for his career.

“[Getting fired] is always a possibility in this business,” McDermott said of Andy Reid’s decision to replace him after the 2010 season. “He felt like he had to go in a different direction. For me and my career, my hope and my desire is that I’m a better coach for it.

“Hopefully, 10 years from now, being where I’d like to be, accomplishing goals I’d like to accomplish, I hope I look back and say that was a turning point in my career for the better.”

He’s working for a coach now who has witnessed it firsthand, as Ron Rivera was in Chicago when Buddy Ryan left and Vince Tobin took over as defensive coordinator. So Rivera knows how McDermott struggled to replace the legendary Johnson after his death.

“Following somebody who has had a lot of success, the expectations are almost unfair,” Rivera said. “When I was playing for the Bears, Vince Tobin came in and replaced Buddy after he left [to become the Eagles’ head coach]. Vince never got the respect he deserved because it was Buddy this, Buddy that. But when you look at some of the things Vince did, you say, ‘Wow, that’s pretty doggone good.’

“So when I look at Sean’s situation — and Andy and I talked about it — just the expectation level was so great, Andy thought this would be a great opportunity for Sean to come down here and reinvent who he is.”

McDermott now needs to reinvent the Panthers defense. With the injuries that limited him from a personnel standpoint last year, they finished 28th in total defense and 27th in points allowed.

But with the strides they made on offense, the Panthers only need to get from bad to average to make a big jump this season.

If that happens, no one in Charlotte will be talking about how Johnson would have done it better.

10 responses to “Sean McDermott escaping Jim Johnson’s shadow in Carolina

  1. Um…. Sean McDermott got fired in Philly because his defense was hideous. I don’t think anyone expected him to be Jim Johnson.

  2. Reid totally botched that one. In the end it probably worked out better for him going to Carolina but the mess that was the Eagles D was not his fault. They simply had lost too much talent over the years, they needed a rebuild.

  3. sean mcdermott deserved another chance in philly.

    that defense that mcdermott had in philly was atrocious. mcdermott only had trent cole that year from a talent standpoint.

    castillo had a much more talented group and straight up underachieved.

  4. It was a bad position to be in, and he stunk it up as expected. Looks like he stunk it up last season too. He better hope he shows some progress this year…

  5. McDermott got fired because he was awful, regardless of Jim Johnson. All you need to know is he repeatedly dropped Trent Cole into coverage on 3rd and longs. ‘Nuff said.

  6. McDermott was fired because his scheme was too complicated to be effective. His defense ranked 12th overall in 2010. On the other hand, Castillo improved that defense to 8th overall last year and people still talk about “how bad Castillo did” last year. I don’t get it.

  7. I’m not giving McDermott a pass here. I don’t think anybody expected him to be Jim Johnson but honestly, I fully expected him to be the NEXT Jim Johnson. The guy spent 10 years under Johnson’s tutelage and when it was his turn to shine, it was immediately apparent that he was inadequate to the task. Growing pains aside, the drop off when McDermott took over was too steep and too immediate to dismiss by saying McDermott had less to work with personnel wise. Hogwash. Part of being a good coach is making more with less talent. There were glaring defeciencies in McDermott’s scheme. Andy knew this. That being said, McDermott is still a young coach. I hope he grows from his mistakes and makes the most of his opportunity in Carolina.

  8. “people still talk about “how bad Castillo did” last year. I don’t get it.”

    The Eagles blew 5 fourth quarter leads and tied a league record for blowing 4 fourth quarter leads at home in a season.

    He’s not the first first-year DC to have issues, but he did set a record. I can understand people talking about “how bad Castillo did” last year.

    The defense improved when the pressure was off; and that’s way better than lying down for the final four games. Andy knew the risk and pressure that would come with putting someone as inexperienced as Castillo at DC before he made the move. He believed in Juan and I guess we have no option but to hope that, in the long run, he was right.

  9. Panther fans are giving McDermott a pass for last year because of the injuries. Yes, a great coach makes more with less talent, but the lack of talent on D last year here was out of control. Jon Beason, a Pro Bowler, played part of 1 game. Thomas Davis, another Pro Bowler, played 1.5 games before blowing out his knee again. Ron Edwards was supposed to be the big plug in the D-line and he went on IR after the first week of training camp.

    He also made some good players better. Chris Gamble was hot garbage in 2010 and should have made the Pro Bowl last year. Nobody had ever heard of James Anderson before last year, but McDermott got a very good year out of him.

    We think we have a good DC that will get better and hopefully be around here a few years, because our genius OC is going to be a head coach somewhere next year.

  10. Strictly speaking, Sean McDermott got fired for having a poor defense. But I think what happened is, he allowed Johnson’s legacy to get in his head and he tried too hard to be different from Johnson. He wasn’t true to himself or his defensive philosophies.

    So yes, those saying he got fired for fielding a poor defense are right, but it’s not the whole story.

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