Dareus on DL role: 'I'm only one piece of the whole puzzle'

The Bills' defensive tackle answered questions about snap count and usage

Sal Capaccio
September 13, 2017 - 3:09 pm

There’s been a lot of talk this week about Marcell Dareus’ limited playing time in the Bills’ 21-12 opening day win over the New York Jets.

Out of 58 total defensive snaps, Dareus played 34 of them, only 59-percent. When asked about those numbers this week on more than one occasion, head coach Sean McDermott has consistently said it’s due to the philosophy of his defense and how they rotate defensive linemen.  

It’s easy to jump to conclusions that Dareus, who has had his share of troubles off the field and was sent home from the team’s third preseason game in Baltimore last month, has been given a reduced role because the coaching staff feels they can’t rely on him. But a look at the official snap count for every player backs up McDermott’s reasoning.

The Bills played eight different defensive linemen. Of that entire group, every one of them played double-digit snaps - and none of them played more than 79-percent of the plays.  It’s something McDermott’s defense has done throughout his time as a defensive coordinator in the NFL. In fact, in last year’s opening game in that role with the Carolina Panthers, McDermott also used eight defensive linemen. All of them played between 33 - 69-percent of the snaps.

But Dareus is also feeling the heat from fans who saw he didn’t even appear in the box score. No tackles. No assists. No quarterback hurries.  

His head coach defended Dareus' play Monday saying the former third overall pick played well and within the team’s scheme, allowing for others to make plays.

“I’ll start off by saying I thought Marcell played a good game,” McDermott said. “Defensive tackle is probably the most unselfish, or one of the most unselfish positions on the football field. By nature of the position, usually you’re freeing someone else up to make a play. As you mentioned Ramon Humber earlier, so every time Ramon Humber is free to the ball, something is happening in front of him that’s allowing him to be free, and Marcell was doing some of that. After that, it’s really about rolling fresh defensive linemen. I really don’t know what went on in the past, I just know what our system calls for, and that’s for fresh bodies up front. That’s a healthy rotation of guys so that they’re fresh to rush the passer when we need it. I thought they did a good job of that.”

Some may feel the highest paid player on the team should be expected to make more of an impact and have a bigger individual role. McDermott squashed that notion.  

“When it comes to what it takes to win a football game, I don’t think about those things,” he said. “I think about what’s going to give us the best chance to win a football game. That’s keeping players fresh up front. That’s just philosophically, again, what we believe in. We don’t factor those other areas into it. I know some of this may be what people are used to seeing. We’re focused on what we do and how we win and getting better every week. Whatever is in that bucket of that, that’s what we’re focused on.”

For Dareus’ part, it’s also a role he has to accept and buy into. Wednesday, standing in front of his locker talking to reporters, Dareus was asked if he felt any “disappointment” that he’s not being used in a more effective manner given the scheme. His answer was interesting, once he got to it.

Dareus started with "hmmmm,” then a pause. Then “that's a good question.” After another short pause, he went on to say "It's a new regime. The way we're doing this, I'm only one piece of the whole puzzle. I'm going to play my role and do it to the best of my ability. It's not about me. I'm just going to do what I have to do, and for the best of the team." 

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