There shouldn't be a Buffalo Bills fan alive who was caught by surprise with the news on Wednesday that head coach Sean McDermott had been given a contract extension. As bad as things are going with the Pegulas' hockey franchise, they must be thrilled with what McDermott and his cohort Brandon Beane have built in their first three years at One Bills Drive.
Even though McDermott had two years left on his original contract, there's no reason to believe this extension will blow up like the last time the Bills extended the contract of a head coach. That would have been Dick Jauron.
It is hard to separate McDermott and Beane in any discussion of the franchise's turnaround, henceforth the nickname of "McBeane" many Bills fans use, but McDermott was the first move that led to the Bills emerging from the league's basement.
While I'm not a huge believer in the culture angle, he has led the way in getting everyone in the organization to pull in the same direction. Players seem to love playing for him, and I think it's due, in part, to McDermott creating a feeling of family and inclusiveness. It isn't a typical boss/worker relationship. Players know they have a voice in matters concerning them. That open door policy goes a long way towards getting the most of out of players.
McDermott has a clear vision of how he thinks a roster in the National Football League should be constructed and how his team should play. He (and Beane) have the franchise headed in the right direction. During his three years on the job, you have also seen numerous examples of players coming to the Bills and either getting better or developing into successful professionals. Tre'Davious White, Matt Milano, Tremaine Edmunds and Jordan Phillips are just a few names that come to mind.
McDermott strikes me as a very organized, detail-oriented person who never allows anything to slip through the cracks. I think that absolutely trickles down to both his coaching staff and the players. My guess is an extension for Beane will be coming at some point. McDermott and Beane are the best coach/general manager combination the Bills have had since Marv Levy and Bill Polian.
Having said all of that, McDermott now faces his next challenge. He needs to take the Bills to the next level.
It is no longer good enough to just make the playoffs. First it was all about ending the drought. Then it was making sure that wasn't a fluke thing.
My partner, Jeremy White, made a great point on Thursday's show: He can't be Marvin Lewis with the Cincinnati Bengals. Lewis transformed the Bengals from a badly run franchise and cellar dweller to a regular in the playoffs, but his postseason record was 0-7.
McDermott needs to win playoff games, starting this season. He needs to get the Bills to where they are mentioned as AFC contenders on an annual basis.
Hopefully this season will be the first step.