It will be known in Buffalo as the most exciting season in decades. For the Bills players it will be remembered as the year they finally got over the hump in the playoffs. And for Sean McDermott the 2020 season will be known as one of the best coaching seasons in franchise history.
McDermott finished in second place in the NFL's coach of the year voting for the 2020 season, finishing behind Cleveland's Kevin Stefanski. McDermott was a finalist for the award in 2019 finishing behind another AFC North coach Jim Harbaugh. The last Bills coach to win AP coach of the year award was Chuck Knox in 1980.
"Obviously we're encouraged by our season the success that we had, as an organization this year in particular in a COVID year," said McDermott in January. "I can't thank everyone enough inside the building. And for those Buffalo Bills employees in particular that are outside of our building every day doing the jobs that they're doing out there and then the fans, just a tremendous outpouring of support by our fan base, which is phenomenal for our team. And we look forward to continue with that momentum going forward."
In his fourth season as the Bills sideline boss, McDermott led Buffalo to its first AFC East title in 25 years as the team set franchise marks for regular season wins (13), points scored (501) and led the league in third down conversion percentage.
Bills general manager Brandon Beane called the 2020 campaign McDermott's "best year" coaching the club.
The Bills also won their first playoff game since 1995 winning their Wild Card matchup with Indianapolis, and then followed it up with a Divisional round victory over Baltimore to advance to the AFC Championship game. Those two playoff wins helped McDermott's Bills tie a franchise mark for most total wins in a season with 15.
McDermott took over a team that had not reached the postseason in 17 years and has qualified for the playoffs in three of the last four seasons. The team made its first appearance in a conference title game in 26 season, but he and his coaching staff are far from satisfied.
"There's a lot that we've improved in, in terms of what's gotten us to where we are, but we all have to, starting with me, continue to ask ourselves the hard questions," McDermott said. "The what ifs and the whys and the hows, and we as a staff have to get better and improve. We have to improve our roster. We have to improve our operation and what we do."