House Posted May 24, 2021 Share Posted May 24, 2021 Written five years ago, that sentence would have been laughable. It’s undeniably true today, though, with Sean McDermott ranking eighth among NFL head coaches in longest tenure. McDermott will enter the 2021 season with the same offensive coordinator (Brian Daboll) and defensive coordinator (Leslie Frazier) for the fourth straight season. The only other team in the NFL that can say that is the New Orleans Saints. In just four seasons on the job, McDermott is already third on the Bills’ all-time list of games for a head coach, trailing only Hall of Famer Marv Levy and Lou Saban. If he makes it through the end of his contract in 2025, McDermott will trail only Levy on the list of games coached. Throughout his tenure, McDermott has had general manager Brandon Beane by his side. Together, they’ve become the most successful coach-GM duo since Levy and Bill Polian led the franchise in the glory days in the early 1990s. “It's like owning a business. I don’t own the business, but Terry and Kim Pegula have entrusted me with a huge responsibility to handle their investment the right way," McDermott said. "I take a lot of pride in that and I take a lot of ownership in that." There wasn't such a cohesive arrangement when the Pegulas initially bought the team. When they took over control of the franchise in October 2014, the Bills’ power structure included team president Russ Brandon, General Manager Doug Whaley and head coach Doug Marrone. The Bills finished that year 9-7, not good enough to get into the playoffs, but not bad enough to necessitate a coaching change – until one fell in their laps. Marrone shocked the NFL world on New Year’s Eve 2014 when he opted out of the remaining two years of his contract. Marrone has never revealed the true reasoning for his decision, but it really doesn’t matter. He’s a fine coach, but one with an overinflated sense of his value. Nevertheless, his departure set up a coaching search the Pegulas were not prepared for. Their biggest mistake as NFL owners came next: Listening to Brandon, who rose through the ranks as a business and marketing executive and never forgot how to sell a ticket. The allure of Rex Ryan, the brash – some might say loudmouth – former coach of the New York Jets, proved to be too much. The Pegulas made Ryan their first head-coaching hire, with Terry Pegula famously recounting at the introductory press conference that Brandon told him to make sure Ryan “didn’t get out of the building.” The Pegulas, of course, would have been better off walking Ryan out and starting his car for him. The coach proved to be nothing more than a carnival barker. His eating of dog biscuits and showing up to press conferences wearing a Clemson football helmet (his son played there) all distracted from the product on the field, which wasn’t good enough. A former defensive coordinator, Ryan put out defenses that stunk. The final straw came when he had 10 players on the field for a critical play in overtime against the Miami Dolphins in Week 16 of the 2016 season. That loss eliminated the Bills from postseason contention for a 17th consecutive season and sealed Ryan’s fate. He was fired before the season finale. Ryan went 15-16 in two seasons as the Bills’ coach – not a horrible record, but one stuck between rebuilding and contending. Ryan lasted less than two full seasons on the job, but few would accuse the Pegulas of having a quick trigger finger. It was clear he wasn’t the right man for the job. Curiously, Whaley was retained even after Ryan was let go, despite it being well known that the general manager had clashed with both of the head coaches he had a hand in hiring. After McDermott came aboard, it became clear that Whaley’s future with the Bills was going to be short-lived. The coach suddenly became the “one voice” speaking for the organization. Publicly silenced, Whaley went through the 2017 draft, only to be fired the day after it concluded – along with his entire scouting staff. The owners’ timing in reaching the conclusion that it’s time to move on from executives, general managers or coaches in their organizational power structures has been all over the map. Brandon leeched onto the Pegulas from the minute they took over the Bills and maneuvered his way into becoming president of both professional sports franchises in town. It wasn’t until allegations of Brandon’s inappropriate workplace behavior and personal misconduct became public in May 2018 that he left Pegula Sports and Entertainment. Two more executives who worked mostly in hockey – Mike Gilbert and Nik Fattey – resigned less than a year later, also as subjects of an internal investigation into allegations of sexual harassment. Three more executives resigned a month later, with no public explanation offered. The Pegulas don’t seem to know who to trust, or when to make the necessary changes when that trust has been breached. That has made what McDermott and Beane have accomplished so impressive. The general manager and head coach each laid out a vision for the organization, and to the owners’ credit, have been given the leeway needed to allow that to come to fruition. That has included allocating resources for an $18 million weight room that Beane has called the "best of the best in the NFL." "Stability was one of the things I was pressing them on," Beane said in recalling his interview with the Pegulas. "They want that. They were young owners and they’re still young owners. The teams that I’ve referenced or Sean referenced, this is how you have to do it to be a stable franchise. Sometimes you have to make tough decisions, but you have to make them if they’re the right decisions for long-term stability." It certainly helped that the organization ended the playoff drought in the first year of the Beane-McDermott pairing. That bought some much-needed good will from a fan base that had run out of patience. When the team took a step back to a 6-10 record in 2018, it came with the understanding that resetting the salary cap was a necessary evil. The payoff started to become apparent in 2019, when the Bills made the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. McDermott was rewarded with a contract extension last August, and Beane signed a new deal in December. Both deals run through 2025. Shortly thereafter, the Bills won the AFC East for the first time since 1995 and made an appearance in the AFC championship game. "I think the pros outweigh the cons in Buffalo right now," safety Micah Hyde says. The Bills' coach-GM pairing is the envy of most of the rest of the NFL, and Buffalo has become a destination for players. Those things have eluded the Pegulas on the hockey side of their empire. https://buffalonews.com/sports/bills/in-brandon-beane-and-sean-mcdermott-pegulas-found-stability-responsibility-with-bills/article_3bd8d374-b8bc-11eb-85b6-17c82381fffe.html 3 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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