Not only did the Jacksonville Jaguars lock up Telvin Smith to a long-term contract during the bye week, but they also made a blockbuster trade, adding former Buffalo Bills All Pro defensive tackle Marcell Dareus to their defensive line.
The move was a bit of a surprise, as most thought if the Jaguars were going to make a move prior to the end of the NFL Trade Deadline that it would be for an offensive player. Instead, the Jaguars decided to go all in on their defense, trying to shore up the one weakness and improving the run defense.
“I was surprised, fairly much,” Dareus said on Monday when he met with the media for the first time when asked how surprised he was by the move. “When they said [Doug] Marrone was looking at me, knowing our relationship and we had a long conversation. I was fairly excited to be here. Happy for the opportunity.”
The big question many had immediately when the trade went down is where would Dareus play and who’s snaps would he absord? Does this mean that Malik Jackson is on notice, as his box score production has been down significantly compared to last season? Or is Dareus a replacement for Abry Jones at the nose position?
We’ll have to see for sure on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals, but from just knowing how Dareus was used when he excelled with the Bills, I would imagine he immediately comes in and takes snaps from Jones. Not that Jones has been poor, but his play hasn’t been up to the level the team wants in taking on blockers and slowing down the run game.
Dareus offers a significant upgrade there in that regard, but he also brings even more flexibility to the defensive line. In Buffalo, Dareus paired with Kyle Williams playing the nose while Williams was the three-technique, which is exactly how I imagine Dareus will play in Jacksonville with Jackson. Dareus isn’t only limited to playing the nose position however, as he can also work at the three spot and even play some defensive end on goal line and run downs if necessary.
These are things that Marrone knows, because he coached Dareus for a few seasons.
I believe the key in this deal for Dareus was the previous relationship with Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone, since he played for him during his time as the Bills head coach. Marrone knows the exact type of player that Dareus is and can be and how he can help a Jaguars defense who’s only weak spot is stopping the run. Some have mentioned that Dareus was one of the Bills that had choice words for Marrone when he opted out of his contract and left, but that appears to be water under the bridge.
“It was getting to know each other. New coaching staff. Gelling,” Dareus said about his relationship with Marrone. Trying to understand what he wants, what he needs for me to do my job the best way I possibly can. We got that understanding in the time he was there. We had pretty decent seasons there under him, and these guys are rolling right now under him. I understand what he’s looking for, and I’m going to do the best I possibly can to give him exactly what he’s looking for.”
The addition of Dareus is a calculated gamble on the Jaguars end, giving up at most a fifth-round pick for roughly a 25-game trial run of a supremely talented player. If Dareus is just mediocre, he ends up just being an expensive depth/fringe starter. If Dareus returns to his previous form however, the Jaguars got an All Pro level talent, signed long term, for next to nothing.