After the firing of Rex Ryan going into Week 17 of last season, the Bills appointed Anthony Lynn as their interim head coach against the New York Jets in Week 17. Lynn was a possible candidate for the Bills head coach vacancy job, but after a 30-10 loss against the Jets, it seemed like Buffalo would need to look for another coach in the offseason.
In January of this year, the Bills and Sean McDermott had mutual interest. When I heard about McDermott, I saw that he had been the defensive coordinator for the Panthers for the last six years and has had a top 10 defense in four out of those six years. After it was announced that the Bills hired McDermott as their new coach, it was satisfying to myself. Knowing that Buffalo was getting another defensive coach that runs a 4-3 scheme and is also a disciplinarian was great to know.
In the offseason, the Bills didn’t have the best free agency period, but they did acquire players that would eventually make a big impact like Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. It seemed like their team was set after the draft with getting players like Tre’Davious White, Dion Dawkins and Matt Milano which all three have done very well so far this season. As the season is getting closer, Buffalo pulled off two big trades where they dealt Ronald Darby to the Philadelphia Eagles for Jordan Matthews, and traded their number one receiver in Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams for cornerback E.J. Gaines. The Bills also acquired draft picks in these trades that now give them six draft picks in the first three rounds for 2018.
It seemed like the Bills were now going into “tank mode” with these events, but when Week 1 came around, the Bills started their quest to end their 17 year playoff drought with a win over the New York Jets. The Bills contained the Jets easily to secure a 21-12 win.
McDermott’s first real test was against his former team, the Panthers. While the Buffalo offense failed to get into the end zone, the defense stood their ground and only allowed three field goals on the day. The Bills had the chance to win the game at the end, but a pass from Tyrod Taylor to Zay Jones fell incomplete, giving the Bills their first loss of the season, 9-3.
In the next two weeks, the Bills would go on to face undefeated teams at the time, Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons. Two games where the Bills were the clear underdogs, but they preferred that way. The Bills took down both teams, beating Denver at home and beating the Falcons in Atlanta. At the time, these were two big wins that boosted up the Bills and their chances to make the playoffs.
In Week 5, the Bills suffered a heartbroken loss against the Bengals 20-16. The Bills secondary fell to the Bengals receiving core with A.J. Green leading the way. What I found interesting is that the Bills only lost by four without starters like Jordan Matthews, Ramon Humber or Cordy Glenn who were all injured. This set the Bills at a 3-2 record going to their bye week.
The last two weeks, the Bills came up with huge victories over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders. Their comeback win against the Bucs was a nail-bitter until the end, especially on the very last play when the Bucs were lateraling the ball back to one another until they were stoped. In the win against the Raiders, the defense slowed down a high scoring offense with Derek Carr and Amari Cooper. While the Raiders have struggled when playing on the East Coast, they are still a threat to teams because of how powerful their offense can be. The Bills handled the Raiders like they were nothing. The Raiders scored first, but then didn’t see the end zone after that until the fourth quarter while the Bills put up 34 points on the board and won by 20.
Let’s not forget the trading of Marcell Dareus to the Jacksonville Jaguars. With Dareus’ troubles off the field and his inability to make plays on the field since signing his monstrous contract a couple years ago, it was time for him to go. The Bills made the trade, and now they don’t have that type of distraction.
In seven games, McDermott has this Bills team standing at 5-2 right behind the New England Patriots with the mentality of no mental mistakes. McDermott has the team disciplined and so far, he has showed that he was the best option for this Bills team. With it being midseason, this time of year is crunch time. In recent years, Buffalo has crumbled during this time, lowering their chances of making the playoffs. If McDermott keeps the Bills focused and has them playing Buffalo football, we very well could see this team playing football in January.