Pro Football Focus has been moving its way through the rankings for each individual position and recently ranked the head coaches in the NFL. Conor McQuiston ranked the 26 head coaches in the NFL who are not entering their first year of coaching and McDermott’s ranking was certainly surprising.
McQuiston had McDermott all the way down at 16th and in a tier titled “Average Coaches”. He was between Doug Pederson and Lovie Smith, two coaches who are entering their first year with their current team but have had head coaching experience previously with other franchises.
"16. SEAN MCDERMOTT, BUFFALO BILLS (8.9 – 8.1 RECORD WITH AVERAGE ROSTER)Offensive Rank: 20/26 (+12 points scored a season)Defensive Rank: 7/26 (-4 points scored a season)McDermott sticks true to his roots as a former defensive coordinator, helming strong units on that side of the ball while not always getting expected results out of his offenses based on talent level."
As McQuiston notes, McDermott excels on the defensive side of the ball, where most of his coaching experience was prior to joining Buffalo. Among the 26 coaches, he ranks seventh on this side of the ball but surprisingly ranks near the bottom on the offensive side of the ball where he is 20th.
The reason this is surprising is that the Bills have had one of the top offenses over the past two seasons. While the Bills’ offense struggled early in McDermott’s time as head coach they have been much better as of late but according to McQuiston, they should be even better with the talent they have.
There has been plenty of questionable decisions for Sean McDermott over his time as head coach and he has been far from perfect. Those decisions include starting Nathan Peterman over Tyrod Taylor in 2017, the fact that he settled for field goals numerous times against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game in 2020, and some time management struggles.
However, it is hard to imagine a strong case for coaches like Kliff Kingsbury, Mike Vrabel, Frank Reich, or Mike McCarthy being ranked so far ahead of him after he has won the AFC East each of the past two seasons and led the Bills to the playoffs in four of his five years as head coach.