New NY Giants and Jets coaches should aim to mimic Bills’ Sean McDermott’s success
As one New York team plays in the AFC Championship game this weekend, two other NY football teams, the NY Giants and Jets, watch from their homes.
First impressions are everything, and the same can be said for a new coach’s first press conference. Anyone who was confident after the introductions of NY coaches Ben McAdoo or Adam Gase were only fooling themselves.
The contrast is emphasized once a competent coach comes along.
Before the 2020 season, NY Giants fans had high hopes after Joe Judge’s first press conference. Fans of the NY Jets are similarly hopeful after the intro of their new head coach, Robert Saleh.
But both NY coaches face plenty of work, which is perhaps why Saleh’s mantra for his team is “all gas, no breaks.”
The Giants and the Jets both had awful offensive output during the 2020 season. The Giants were 31st in total offense, while the Jets were 32nd.
Those who fear that either team’s offense won’t improve by hiring Saleh, who was a defensive coordinator, or for that matter Judge, who was a special teams coordinator, don’t have to look very far to see examples of success.
Sean McDermott, head coach of the Buffalo Bills, who will play for the AFC Championship this weekend, has turned his team into an NFL powerhouse. The Bills strength is their offense. McDermott’s pedigree is a defensive coordinator.
When McDermott took over, the Bills were trending upward, but were not nearly the dynamic team that rocked the NFL in 2020.
In 2016, the Bills’ offense was No. 16 overall in the NFL while their defense was 19th overall. And when McDermott was handed the reins in 2017, the team’s offense dropped to 29th overall while the defense dropped to 26th.
Still, McDermott brought the scrappy Bills to the playoffs with a 9-7 record.
Then in 2018, the Bills drafted quarterback Josh Allen with the seventh overall pick of the draft. And while that selection improved the team’s offense to 18th in the league, the season marks the only losing record, 6-10, under McDermott’s tenure.
But McDermott, Allen, and the Bills believed in the team, and rightly so. In 2019, the Bills had the ninth overall offense, went 10-6, and went to the playoffs for the second time in three years. This season, the Bills offense was second overall, and the team went 13-3, and picked up their first two playoff wins under this regime.
In fact, the Bills offense was nearly twice as good as the Giants and the Jets. The Bills scored 501 points during the regular season, averaging 31.3 points per game. The Giants only scored 280 points, averaging 17.5 points per game. The Jets only scored 243 points, averaging 15.2 points per game. The Giants and Jets were the only two teams in the NFL that failed to eclipse 300 points all season.
A big reason for the Bills’ offensive improvement was their ability to surround their young quarterback with a stellar talent. The addition of Stefon Diggs in the offseason has worked wonders for the team; he led the NFL in reception yards during the regular season with 1,535, and leads the postseason in the same category with 234.
Cole Beasley, another offseason signing, has been a major help in the Bills’ offensive game. He racked up 967 yards receiving this season, which was 23rd overall. Only one player between the Giants and the Jets was in the top 50 in receiving yards: Darius Slayton, who hauled in 751 yards to put him at 46th.
Both the Giants and the Jets have similar situations to the Bills at the turn of their luck. A new coach who’s pedigree is not offense, a young quarterback the team is hoping will develop. Unproven, underperforming offenses. Tough, hard-hitting defenses that keep them in the game.
McDermott is the latest example of how a defensive-minded coach can improve a team’s offense. As the latest NY coaches, Joe Judge and Robert Saleh would be wise to take notes.