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Dareus Review: Run-stopping prowess, need for a rebound as pass-rusher

Marcell Dareus may be the most polarizing Buffalo Bills player.

Tyrod Taylor can ignite some heated debates at the bar or in your living room, but Dareus' high-level play mixed with his repeated off-field, maturity and injury issues have made him quite the conundrum.

Throughout the season, we will examine Dareus, the player, the ultra-talented defensive tackle who, when on the field, has game-changing capabilities. We will break his play down by reviewing film and diving into advanced stats.

What do the advanced stats say?

Last year, among 73 qualifying defensive tackles, Dareus had Pro Football Focus' 16th-highest overall grade.

He was on the field for 205 run plays last year – for context, 34 defensive tackles were on the field for more in 2016 – but Dareus finished 15th in the the NFL at his position with 20 "stops."

What counts as a "stop"? A tackle on:

  • First down:  less than 40 percent of required yardage
  • Second down: less than 60 percent of required yardage
  • Third down: less than 100 percent of required yardage
  • Fourth down: less than 100 percent of required yardage

Clearly, PFF's "stops" help to show how much impact a defender's tackles have.

His "Run Stop Percentage" (stops divided by run play snaps) of 9.8 was the 12th-highest out of 74 defensive tackles.

Also, Dareus was one of seven players at his position who did not miss a tackle against the run last season.

As a pass-rusher, the top-five pick didn't have a spectacular campaign in 2016. In Rex Ryan's defense, he was asked to read, then react more often than simply attack up field, and he was the target of consistent double teams.

His PFF pass-rush grade was the 35th-best at the defensive tackle spot, and he registered just 13 total quarterback pressures, the 40th-most at his position.

PFF categorizes quarterback pressures as either a sack, hit, or hurry of a signal-caller. It helps to provide a better idea of how disruptive a defender is than simply looking at how many sacks he has at the end a game or a season.

The site uses "Pass Rush Productivity" to display how productive a defender was as a pass-rusher relative to the amount of pass-rush snaps he had. Sacks count slightly more than a hit or a hurry in PFF's equation.

Dareus had a Pass Rush Productivity of 5.7 in 2016, the 26th-highest figure among 68 defensive tackles who qualified. A season before that, his PRP was 5.1. Before 2015, Dareus posted a PRP above 6.0 in his first four years in the NFL.

Unsurprisingly, Dareus' highest Pro Football Focus grade came in the 2014 season with Jim Schwartz as his defensive coordinator. His overall grade trailed only Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy and Aaron Donald.

In Sean McDermott's one-gap scheme – meaning defensive linemen will only be responsible for one gap, not two – Dareus could be in the line to return to his pre-2015 form.

(Stats courtesy of Pro Football Focus.)

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