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Marcell Dareus makes Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars run defense better

The stats help tell the story.

NFL: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Marcell Dareus was a good player when he led Alabama’s defense to a National Championship in 2011. He was considered to be a very good player when he was a consensus top-5 pick and drafted third overall by the Buffalo Bills in the 2011 NFL Draft. He was pretty good when he was an All-Pro with 10 sacks in 2014.

Then Rex Ryan showed up and moved Dareus out of his natural 4-3 DT position. He continued to struggle with a lack of maturity evidenced in off-the-field issues. He battled injuries. And all of a sudden he became “lazy,” “overpaid,” and considered expendable by many fans and reporters who follow the team. Finally, he was considered expendable by those who run the team, and unceremoniously traded for a 6th round pick.

But Marcell Dareus has been and is still very good at football. Specifically, he’s very good at being big (319 pounds) and stopping the run. Interestingly, following his departure to Jacksonville, stopping the run has become an issue for the Bills. Who woulda thunk it?

With all of the numbers below, the main number to remember is that through nine games in 2017, teams with Marcell Dareus active on game day are about 2-3 yards per carry better at stopping the run than teams without him. That would have been nice for Buffalo on Sunday.

Now for the unmanipulated, unbiased numbers. Marcell Dareus was active as a Buffalo Bill for 5 games this year:

  • Week 1, New York Jets: 15 carries, 38 yards, 12 points against
  • Week 2, Carolina Panthers: 28 carries, 77 yards, 9 points against
  • Week 4, Atlanta Falcons: 29 carries, 147 yards, 17 points against (Dareus’ first game back from injury)
  • Week 5, Cincinnati Bengals: 27 carries, 65 yards, 20 points against
  • Week 7, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 25 carries, 69 yards, 27 points against

TOTALS: 5 games, 3.19 yards per carry, 17 points against

The Buffalo Bills have played 4 games without Marcell Dareus this year:

  • Week 3, Denver Broncos - 23 carries, 111 yards, 16 points against
  • Week 8, Oakland Raiders - 14 carries, 54 yards, 14 points against
  • Week 9, New York Jets - 41 carries, 194 yards, 34 points against
  • Week 10, New Orleans Saints - 48 carries, 298 yards, 47 points against

TOTALS: 4 games, 5.21 yards per carry, 27.75 points against

Now for Dareus’ new team, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Same exercise. He has been active for 2 games this season, admittedly a small sample size:

  • Week 9, Cincinnati Bengals: 17 carries, 29 yards, 7 points against
  • Week 10, Los Angeles Chargers: 30 carries, 87 yards, 17 points against

TOTALS: 2 games, 2.47 yards per carry, 12 points against

Here are the 7 games the Jaguars played without Marcell Dareus:

  • Week 1, Houston Texans: 23 carries, 93 yards, 7 points against
  • Week 2, Tennessee Titans: 36 carries, 179 yards, 37 points against
  • Week 3, Baltimore Ravens: 25 carries, 134 yards, 7 points against
  • Week 4, New York Jets: 32 carries, 256 yards, 23 points against
  • Week 5, Pittsburgh Steelers: 20 carries, 70 yards, 9 points against
  • Week 6, Los Angeles Rams: 32 carries, 142 yards, 17 points against
  • Week 8, Indianapolis Colts: 20 carries, 96 yards, 0 points against

TOTALS: 7 games, 5.16 yards per carry, 14.3 points against.

Hmm. Interesting. With Dareus in the lineup, Buffalo was more than two yards per carry lower. With Dareus in the lineup, Jacksonville has been more than 2.5 yards per carry lower. It might not be 100% correlational, but it’s a not just a coincidence.