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Jim Schwartz: defensive tackles, not ends, have more value in modern NFL

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If Marcell Dareus' agent needed another argument to make in his client's bid for a nine-figure contract extension with the Bills, these words from Dareus' former defensive coordinator will do the trick.

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Marcell Dareus did not necessarily need a third party to make another case for him in his bid to land a massive contract extension from the Buffalo Bills, but one of his former defensive coordinators did just that - and in compelling fashion, too - in a recent interview.

Jim Schwartz made an appearance on Daniel Jeremiah's Move the Sticks Podcast this week, where he was asked to pick one defensive lineman, one linebacker, and one defensive back to build a defense around. It is a fairly innocuous, offseason-filler type of question, but rather than just blurting out "J.J. Watt!", Schwartz dove into some philosophy about defensive linemen in today's NFL.

"When you talk about up front, I think I’d have to go to defensive tackle as opposed to an end, because tackles are harder to take out of a game plan by an offensive coordinator," Schwartz opined. "You can chip a defensive end with a running back, (or) you can put a tight end to that side (and) make him redirect. But the defensive tackle is closer to the quarterback, and he’s harder to scheme. About the only way you can really scheme is slide the center his way, and most of them are good at dealing with that."

Schwartz focused his dialogue on three players: Watt, Ndamukong Suh, and Albert Haynesworth, the latter two being players he'd formerly coached. In his lone season playing for Schwartz, the 25-year-old Dareus was named a first team All-Pro.

"They’re the closest guy to the quarterback," Schwartz later continued. "That quarterback wants to set up in the pocket. They can be a factor in every single play. If the quarterback throws quick - he throws on three steps, or even some of the one-step stuff that guys do now - defensive ends can be rendered ineffective on a lot of that. It’s hard to speed rush, it’s hard to be able to affect the quarterback if he’s throwing the ball so quick. But defensive tackles are always in the fight."

In his first four seasons in the NFL, Dareus has accumulated 28.5 sacks - 10 of which came last season - while emerging as one of the league's best run-defending interior linemen. As Dareus enters the final year of his rookie deal, the Bills have publicly said that they're hopeful to have a new contract in place with him by the time training camp begins on July 31.

"Those guys can affect so much," Schwartz concluded. "Their ability to draw a double-team in the run game frees up linebackers (and) keeps coordinators from having to send an extra player into the box. Yeah, I think tackles are extremely valuable - particularly really good ones, guys that can still win versus double-teams."

Schwartz, who is not coaching in 2015 (he's consulting with NFL officials, instead), is no longer involved with the Bills' decision-making brain trust - but his philosophy is certainly interesting to mull as Buffalo considers a fourth enormous contract on a defensive line that also features Mario Williams (three years left on his deal with $44.6 million in earning potential), Jerry Hughes (five years, $45 million, $22 million guaranteed), and Kyle Williams (three years, $22.3 million, $9 million guaranteed left on his deal).