Defensive Coordinator, Carolina Panthers
During Sean McDermott's first season as Carolina's defensive coordinator in 2011, he was faced with the challenge of leading a unit that was plagued by injuries, including the losses of starting defensive tackle Ron Edwards and starting linebackers Jon Beason and Thomas Davis. His lineup changed week-to-week as the Panthers fielded 13 different defensive starting alignments. The young and inexperienced group held it together and showed signs of potential as the season progressed, forcing key stops and turnovers that contributed to the Panthers winning four of their final six games.
McDermott came to Carolina following 12 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, the last two as defensive coordinator, where he contributed to six division titles. He is reunited with head coach Ron Rivera, both joining the Eagles coaching staff in 1999 and working together for five seasons.
Aggressiveness and pressure characterize the play of McDermott's defenses, which forced 72 turnovers over his last two seasons in Philadelphia, tied for first in the NFL with Green Bay. Even with last year's instability, the Panthers tied for 16th in the NFL with 24 takeaways.
In 2010, McDermott led one of the league's youngest defenses to another playoff appearance and a top 10 finish in takeaways, sacks and negative play yardage.
In his first season overseeing the Eagles defense in 2009, McDermott overcame a rash of injuries to lead a unit that ranked third in the NFL with 38 takeaways, the most by the club since 2002, and 44 sacks. Also, Philadelphia stood second in the league in third down defense, limiting opponents to a 33.0 percent conversion rate, and fifth in yards per play allowed with an average of 5.0 yards per play.
Three of McDermott's players earned Pro Bowl honors: defensive end Trent Cole - who ranked third in the NFC with 12.5 sacks, cornerback Asante Samuel - who tied for first in the NFL with nine interceptions, and safety Quintin Mikell - who notched a team-leading 122 tackles. As a result of his efforts, McDermott was named the NFL's top defensive coordinator by Pro Football Weekly.
One of the few NFL assistants to successfully mentor two different position groups, McDermott coached the secondary and linebackers before becoming defensive coordinator, learning all phases of the defensive game plan from the late Jim Johnson, the Eagles' legendary defensive coordinator from 1999-2008.
Tutoring the defensive backs in 2008, McDermott helped the pass defense improve in nearly every statistical category from the previous year, ranking third in the NFL in pass defense and second in net yards per pass play. Two members of the secondary - free safety Brian Dawkins and Samuel - garnered Pro Bowl recognition, while Mikell captured second-team All-Pro accolades.
In 2007, McDermott took over the linebackers for one season when Steve Spagnuolo left to become the New York Giants defensive coordinator. The young linebacking corps flourished under McDermott as Omar Gaither, who compiled a team-high 170 tackles, and Chris Gocong progressed into full-time starters for the first time in their careers.
From 2004-06, McDermott served as the Eagles' secondary/safeties coach. In 2004, both starting safeties, Dawkins and strong safety Michael Lewis, went to the Pro Bowl. Under McDermott's guidance, Dawkins proceeded to make two more Pro Bowls after the 2005 and 2006 seasons. In addition, McDermott aided in the development of Mikell, an undrafted rookie free agent in 2003.
McDermott worked as the team's assistant defensive backs coach in 2003 and as the defensive assistant/quality control coach from 2001-02, assisting with linebackers. He originally joined the organization in 1998 as a scouting administrative coordinator and primarily handled collective bargaining agreement, salary cap and personnel matters until being promoted to assistant to the head coach in 1999.
An All-Atlantic 10 Conference choice at safety for William & Mary as a senior in 1997, McDermott graduated with a degree in finance and began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater in 1998. He and his wife, Jamie, have a daughter, Madeline, and a son, Gavin.