Joseph, 44, is in his first year as defensive coordinator in Miami under rookie head coach Adam Gase. His coaching career started at his alma mater, Colorado, in 1999 as a graduate assistant. He bounced around the college ranks for a few years as a defensive backs coach before moving up to the NFL, where he spent 11 years coaching secondaries for the 49ers (2005-2010), Texans (2011-2013), and Bengals (2014-2015). As a defensive backs coach, he managed to coax Pro Bowl seasons out of players like Walt Harris, Jonathan Joseph, and Adam “Pacman” Jones. He also played in the NFL, appearing in 17 games (with six starts) as a cornerback for the Jets in 1995 and the Colts in 1996.
While he’s well-regarded as a coach and was a sought-after coordinator prior to last season, Miami’s defense struggled under him in 2016. The Dolphins finished 28th in yards allowed, giving up a team-record 6,122 yards this season. Despite losing star safety Reshad Jones early in the season, the Dolphins still had the services of Cameron Wake, Ndamukong Suh, and Kiko Alonso for the entire season (Alonso missed one game). Still, the Bills aren’t the only team looking to talk to him, so that must count for something.
McDermott, 42, did not play but has a much longer career as a defensive coordinator. He worked his way up the ladder under Andy Reid in Philadelphia, moving from the scouting department to “assistant to the head coach” and up through the coaching ranks until he was named defensive coordinator in 2009. After being fired from the Eagles after the 2010 season, he made his way to Carolina, where he’s been the defensive coordinator for the last six years.
McDermott’s defenses have a tendency to give up a relatively high amount of points for the amount of yards they allow. In his eight years as a coordinator, McDermott’s units have finished in the top 12 in yards allowed six times, including two seasons in the top six with Carolina (2013 and 2015). However, aside from those two seasons, his teams have never finished better than 18th in points allowed. The Panthers struggled on defense in 2016, especially against the pass (they finished 29th), but in his defense they were working with a weakened unit after letting star cornerback Josh Norman walk away in free agency.