Report: Sean McDermott will be fired if he misses…

Sean McDermott should not be fired by Buffalo Bills, even if he misses playoffs.

Fans have been calling for Sean McDermott to be fired throughout this disappointing 2023 season.

ORCHARD PARK – For the first time in his nearly seven years as Buffalo Bills head coach, Sean McDermott is under heavy fire from a fan base that is growing increasingly frustrated with the performance of his 2023 team and is calling for his dismissal.

For the life of me, I don’t quite understand it, but this is what happens when a team that was considered a Super Bowl contender when the season began is now sitting at 6-6 with three of the losses coming in games where the Bills had the lead with less than two minutes remaining, one of those to the utterly inept New England Patriots.

The head coach is always in the crosshairs in these situations, and fans as well as some in the media love to believe that firing the coach will solve the problems. No doubt that sometimes works (though almost never in season), but it only works if you pick the right replacement. If you do that, losing teams can become winning teams under a new regime, but here’s the thing: The Bills aren’t a losing team.

Sean McDermott’s record with the Buffalo Bills

They’re 68-41 in the regular season under McDermott and his .624 winning percentage is the highest ever for a Bills coach, even better than Marv Levy’s .615. His 68 wins are tied for second-most with Lou Saban (who earned his two separate stints with the team) behind Levy’s 112.

Since 2020, McDermott’s Bills have won three AFC East titles and are 43-18 in the regular season. Only Sunday’s opponent in Kansas City, Andy Reid’s Chiefs, have a better mark at 48-14, the caveat being that the Chiefs have also won two AFC titles (one against the Bills) and one Super Bowl since then.

Let’s also remember that changing the coach doesn’t always work, and we don’t have to look any further than the 21st century Bills for glaring proof. Did they improve after Wade Phillips was canned, or after Gregg Williams was fired, or after Mike Mularkey quit, or after Dick Jauron was fired, or after Chan Gailey was fired, or after Doug Marrone quit?

In fact, only after Rex Ryan was dumped and McDermott was hired in 2017 did Buffalo finally start to shed the tag of being called the Siberia of the NFL and began its exodus from the abyss.

That has to count for something, and it seems as if it does, at least at One Bills Drive. As sources told Tim Graham of The Athletic last week, there is “zero chance” Terry Pegula is dumping McDermott. And that tracks with me, so let’s knock it off with the calls to fire McDermott, even if this underachieving 6-6 team misses the postseason.

Would it be a massive disappointment if that happens? Of course. But firing a coach who would have led your team to the playoffs in five of his seven seasons and forcing the team to start all over again is just a foolish, knee-jerk reaction to a tough season, one that, by the way, isn’t dead just yet.

Sean McDermott’s raise and contract goes through 2027

Another factor beyond McDermott’s strong record is that Pegula is not going to fire him after just giving him a sizable raise and contract extension through 2027, even though the fracking mogul could obviously recoup that money by, as he once famously said, “drilling another well.”

McDermott had a relatively easy ride in Buffalo over his first six years, and rightly so. Like every NFL coach he has suffered some terrible moments and made some awful decisions. Remember, this is the coach who actually named Nathan Peterman the starting QB not once but twice. And of course, the 13 seconds debacle fell squarely on his shoulders, as did this year’s too many men on the field penalty which cost Buffalo the Denver game.

There are regrettable incidents, too, because also like every other NFL coach, and like any of us, McDermott is not perfect. But there has been much more good than bad since he and general manager Brandon Beane arrived in 2017 with the Bills mired in a 17-year playoff drought. They changed the culture, rebuilt the roster, willed that under-manned 2017 team into the playoffs, and then after a regression that everyone expected in 2018, led Buffalo to the playoffs four years in a row.

For some perspective, there have been only three periods in the 64-year history of the franchise where the Bills have gone to the playoffs four years in a row: From 1963-66 which included two AFL championships; from 1988-93 which included four AFC championships (and four Super Bowl losses); and this current stretch from 2019-22.

If they miss the postseason, you chalk it up to a bad season; it happens in the parity-strewn NFL. McDermott will be partially at fault, but so are his assistant coaches, and so is Beane for the roster he constructed. The injuries that crippled the defense can’t be overlooked, nor can Josh Allen who, for all his brilliance and wonders, continues to turn the ball over as much or more than any QB in the league.

I’m sure many of you – maybe most of you – will disagree with my stance here on not firing McDermott, and that’s OK. He gets a pass from me for 2023 because he has earned it, but talk to me next year if the Bills are staring at two straight postseason misses with a generational quarterback and then I’ll be willing to listen.

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