When head coaches Sean McDermott and Andy Reid are asked about each other, they have nothing but good things to say. Reid, the fifth-winningest head coach in NFL history, had McDermott on his team in a multitude of roles from 1999 to 2010. McDermott’s coaching career began when he became administrative coordinator of the scouting, then assistant head coach, defensive assistant and quality control coach, defensive backs coach, secondary coach, linebackers coach, and finally becoming defensive coordinator for the 2009 season.
Former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Ike Reese says Reid and McDermott were inseparable.
“We used to call Sean Little Red. Andy was Big Red and Sean was Little Red. He was glued to Andy’s hip.
As close as they were, that didn’t stop Reid from firing McDermott after the 2010 season, but even then there were no hard feelings. McDermott spoke about the layoff in 2020.
“He did it because he knew it was the best thing for me. He knew the situation in Philadelphia and I respect him for that. Andy always had my best interests in mind. I don’t think it was one of the things he wanted to do, but he knew he had to do it. At the end of the day, I think God had a plan for my career.”
Now, a dozen years later as head coach of the Buffalo Bills, McDermott finds himself in a position that most in his place would dream of in 2022. With a roster full of stars, he is looking to find success against his former boss in their Sunday afternoon battle at the Kansas City Chiefs field. If the Bills can come away with a win, McDermott will even the score at three wins apiece.
Each coach instilled a winning culture in their organization, despite their different styles. Reid, an offensive genius, and McDermott, a defensive ace (even with his 13-second blunder in last year’s playoff loss to Reid’s Chiefs), set their teams up to win with their smart decision-making , their roster decisions, and their game management decisions. After coaching together for so long, I wanted to dive into some tendencies of the two to see how it compares to their game management tactics.
pass against run
Buffalo and Kanas City throw the ball a lot more than they pass, which is no surprise with quarterbacks Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes behind center. Both would qualify as generational players in their positions and took the league by storm with their cannon arms. Buffalo passes the ball on 65.05% of its snaps, ranking fourth overall in the NFL. Kansas City is significantly lower at 15th overall, throwing the ball 60.74%.
Buffalo’s higher number could be partly due to their running backs’ general ineffectiveness as runners. Some critics say Buffalo might need a more robust running game for long-term success, which would relieve Allen and the passing game. Kanas City are counting on former first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who outperformed Devin Singletary for five games, keeping KC’s offense more balanced. Neither team likes to rush the ball in early scenarios, as they both rank in the top 10 in terms of first down success rate. This aggressive approach plays to the strength of their rosters, and that’s why they have efforts to maintain success.
Fourth down attempts
Getting into the fourth down has become much less of a surprise in the NFL now, compared to just a few years ago. Football Scoop did a study in 2020 showing how much things have changed regarding the 2010-20 rate.
The chart showed a big jump from the 2016-18 season rosters with Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen entering the league.
In five games this season, Buffalo ranks 10th in the league with seven fourth down attempts, converting five. That number might even be higher, except the Bills are the league’s best third down team, moving the shackles on more than 55% of third downs.
Kanas City have four fourth down attempts, converting half of them. They are also strong on third down, converting over 52% of them. In a one-on-one matchup, Buffalo’s defense will need to be better on third down and not repeat their last encounter when they allowed over 40 runs.
NFL referees don’t have an easy job. It seems like week after week fans are complaining about bad calls. Having smart, disciplined players on the roster helps avoid officials’ flags, and that’s a direct reflection of the head coach. This year, Buffalo is the eighth least penalized team, finishing six spots higher than KC. Throughout this rivalry, we’ve seen calls and no-calls impact the game.
Neither team can afford to take a bad penalty when the outcome of the game could come down to a razor-thin margin. Turnovers are game-changing plays, and to have one canceled due to a penalty is heartbreaking. Buffalo has the slight advantage so far this season being called for fewer penalties than KC. Kansas City will deploy rookie corners against receivers Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis. As such, we could see our fair share of holding or passing interference penalties in favor of bills.
With all eyes on this nationally televised game, McDermott will finally have the chance to avenge one of the worst losses this franchise has ever suffered. McDermott knows that to be successful in this league, you have to learn from your mistakes and put the losses behind you.
“You learn from things like that, and you move on and you’re not afraid to learn things and fix things and adjust and evolve. When you go through things like that, it doesn’t define you. , but it refines you if you manage it properly. It improves the things that we do, because you do a lot of research, you do a lot of introspection.
I expect the Bills to silence all criticism, follow their head coach’s lead in refining and building better, and ultimately earn a decisive victory on Sunday. Buffalo’s top-ranked defense will slow Kansas City enough for them to leave Arrowhead with a win, 33-21.