Defensive Coordinator, Carolina Panthers
Sean McDermott enters his fourth season as the Panthers' defensive coordinator in 2014, after completing a record-setting 2013 season, in which the Panthers won the NFC South championship with a regular season record of 12-4, advanced to the Divisional round of the NFC Playoffs, and finished 2nd in the NFL in total defense (301.3 ypg) and scoring defense (15.1 ppg). McDermott was named Coordinator of the Year by the Sporting News after the 2013 season.
Facing stiff competition throughout the 2012 campaign with 11 of 16 games against opponents that finished in the top 15 in the NFL in total offense, including nine in the top 10, Carolina rated 10th in the league in total defense - an 18-spot improvement from 2011.
Despite ending the year with seven starters or significant contributors on injured reserve, the Panthers ranked in the top 10 in many defensive categories - including sacks, third-down conversion percentage, yards after catch, plays of 20-or-more yards allowed, and negative plays created. Carolina also tied a team record with three interception returns for touchdowns, the first time since 2007 that the team had multiple defensive scores in a season.
McDermott's unit played its best down the stretch, rising from 24th in total defense after four games to its final ranking of 10th. Over the season's final 13 weeks, the Panthers ranked sixth in total defense, eighth against the run and 11th against the pass, yielding 312.8 yards per game - 101.8 rushing and 211.0 passing.
An integral part of the defense's success was rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly, who earned Associated Press NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors after leading the league in tackles with a franchise record 205. Carolina also gathered 39 sacks, and defensive ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy led the charge as they became the first Panthers tandem to record double-digit sacks since 2002. Johnson ranked sixth in the NFL with a career-high 12.5 sacks and second with seven forced fumbles, while Hardy added a career-high 11 sacks.
In his first year with the Panthers in 2011, McDermott was faced with leading a unit that was plagued by injuries. It was the second half of the season before Carolina fielded the same defensive lineup in consecutive weeks, but McDermott's young and inexperienced group showed signs of potential as the season progressed, forcing key stops and turnovers that contributed to wins in four of the 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. In 2010, McDermott led one of the league's youngest defenses to a playoff appearance, finishing the year ranked in the top-10 in takeaways, sacks and negative play yardage.
During his first season overseeing the Eagles defense in 2009, McDermott overcame a rash of injuries to help lead the team to the playoffs and direct a unit that ranked third in the NFL with 38 takeaways and 44 sacks. Also, Philadelphia stood second in the league in third down defense and fifth in yards per play allowed.
Three of McDermott's players earned Pro Bowl honors: defensive end Trent Cole, cornerback Asante Samuel and safety Quintin Mikell. 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, who entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2003, captured second-team All-Pro accolades.
In 2007, McDermott took over the linebackers when Steve Spagnuolo left to become the New York Giants defensive coordinator. The young linebacking corps flourished under McDermott as Omar Gaither 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.
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 budget, collective bargaining agreement, salary cap and personnel matters until being promoted to assistant to the head coach in 1999.
PLAYING AND PERSONAL
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.
Safety: William & Mary 1994-97. College coach: William & Mary 1998. Pro coach: Philadelphia Eagles 1999-2010, Carolina Panthers 2011-Present.