Through three games of the 2017 NFL season, the Buffalo Bills (2-1) boast the league’s stingiest scoring defense, allowing only 12.3 points per game. The Bills feature the sixth-best total defense (allowing 278.3 yards per game), and have allowed the seventh-fewest rushing yards per game (75.3 yards/game), and the 10th-fewest yards through the air (203 yards/game). All of this is remarkable, considering Leslie Frazier’s 4-3 defense is achieving these feats without the services of Marcell Dareus, Buffalo’s talented but often-troubled defensive tackle.
Dareus, the team’s highest-paid defensive player, has logged a grand total of ONE assisted tackle, with no sacks and no quarterback hurries. He is one of only two current Bills without a solo tackle along with Tanner Vallejo, Buffalo’s rookie linebacker.
After signing a six-year, $108 million extension with $60 million in guaranteed money in 2015, it’s safe to say first-year head coach Sean McDermott and the rest of the Bills’ brass were expecting more from their star defensive tackle.
McDermott took this view a step further during an interview with NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero, when he said he hasn’t seen a real sense of urgency from Dareus.
"At times [I feel he has urgency]. I'm going to be very honest about it -- at times. At other times, not really," McDermott told Pelissero. "This bus is moving and at the end of this year, we're going to have a pretty good feel for who's on the bus and who's not, and everyone knows that, I would hope. So, I would hope they've seen that from the moves we've made and the direction we're heading, the mindset we're embracing and the devoted mindset you need to have to win in this league. We're going in a certain direction for a certain reason, and we play and do things with a purpose. People that have that common purpose and want to share that common purpose, they'll be here."
Dareus’ disappointing start to the regular season can be attributed in part to an injury, as he has been battling an ankle injury since Week 2’s 9-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
Could McDermott’s comments represent a signal that Buffalo has grown tired of Dareus’ antics?
Dareus, the third-overall pick in the 2011 draft (behind Carolina Panthers’ QB Cam Newton and Denver Broncos LB Von Miller) has recorded 34 career sacks, but only 5.5 sacks in his last 25 games. This after Dareus broke through for 28.5 sacks over his first four seasons in Orchard Park.
Among his off-field issues, Dareus served a one-game suspension in 2015 and a four-game suspension in 2016 for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. He was also dismissed from the team prior to the Bills’ Week 3 preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens, reportedly for being so late that other members of the team were already on the field stretching.