Following the 24-21 win, Buffalo’s coach revealed he was not calling the defensive plays in the game. Instead it was defensive backs coach John Butler.
Primarily a defensive assistant coach in his NFL career, Butler does have some experience as a defensive coordinator at the college level. That still begs the question–Why did McDermott want to pass that duty off?
According to the coach, because it was the preseason finale, he just wanted to focus on player evaluation.
“I just wanted to see them come out ready to play and see certain things,” McDermott said via video conference. “That’s part of the reason why I didn’t call the plays either on the defense. I wanted to be able to have my eyes available and see certain things from our team and for the most part.”
Since McDermott’s arrival in Buffalo as head coach in 2017, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier had called defensive plays. After Frazier stepped aside following the 2022 season, McDermott decided to take over calling plays for himself.
In addition, it’s probably just a good measure to take… just in case.
If McDermott can’t call plays during the regular season for whatever reason, even just once, Butler is now comfortable with doing it.
Earlier this offseason, Butler spoke about McDermott’s additional title as the defacto defensive coordinator with Frazier’s departure. It sounded like the two were on the same page pretty early on.
“It’s just been great to have his voice in (defense meetings),” Butler said in May. “Sean is asking that we are always giving as much as we can to the process. We’ve always been very vocal and informed and also a part of putting the game plan together, developing and evaluating our personnel. Really, what it comes down to is Leslie called the defenses on game day, but there is tons of input, whether it is myself or Bobby Babich through the years, Eric Washington as the primary position coaches, really, last year. We all have an input and a say, so that’s not changed.”