What Bills fans need to know about new coach Sean McDermott

McDermott agrees to become new Bills head coach (1:40)

Dan Graziano reports on Sean McDermott agreeing to become the new Bills head coach and how he will fit in a Buffalo management structure that has been questioned since the firing of Rex Ryan. (1:40)

The Buffalo Bills hired former Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott as their 20th coach in franchise history Wednesday, ending a coaching search that started when Rex Ryan was fired Dec. 27.

Here are a few things to know about McDermott:

  • He runs a 4-3 defense: The Bills' defense has made annual changes in the past six years, transitioning from George Edwards' 3-4 scheme in 2011, to Dave Wannstedt's 4-3 in 2012, to Mike Pettine's 3-4 in 2013, to Jim Schwartz's 4-3 in 2014, to Rex Ryan's hybrid scheme in 2015, to Ryan's "fully pregnant" 3-4 system this past season. McDermott will bring yet another approach to Buffalo in 2017. He runs a 4-3 scheme that is derived from former Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson's blitz-heavy attack of the early 2000s. McDermott's defense in Carolina was not as blitz-centric, but required linebackers to have speed and range and for the secondary to handle zone-coverage responsibilities.

  • He has an "intense" personality: At the end of this past season, Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins called for a "culture change" around the Bills' organization, saying some players lacked discipline. In contrast with Rex Ryan's more laid-back style, McDermott could represent the change Watkins desired. "I think that most people who know me would say that I'm an intense individual and very driven to win and enjoy the competition aspect of the game," McDermott told Bleacher Report in 2010. McDermott had a reputation in Carolina for working long hours and said he slept in his office for most of the week during the regular season.

  • He is a Philadelphia-area native who got his start with the Eagles: McDermott grew up in the Philadelphia area and was an Eagles fan, interning for the team during his final two years of college at William & Mary. He joined the Eagles full time as a scouting administrative coordinator in 1998, shortly before coach Ray Rhodes was fired. New coach Andy Reid asked McDermott if he wanted to be his office assistant, mentioning that Jon Gruden got his start the same way. McDermott performed grunt work for Reid until he became a quality control coach in 2002 and assistant defensive backs coach in 2004. He took over as full-time defensive coordinator in 2009 after Johnson stepped down because of treatment for melanoma.

  • He was a champion high school wrestler: At La Salle College High School, McDermott completed a 61-0 record as a 171-pound wrestler and won consecutive national prep titles. He walked on to William & Mary's football team and became an all-conference safety in 1997, spending two years as a teammate of former William & Mary receiver and current Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.